Friday, 21 March 2014

Reading: lots

Bex's Bookshelves is making another comeback.  Purely for my own benefit.  At various points in my life I have kept a record of what I read and I always appreciate it when I do.  I'm currently trying to set up a book club here in Beziers.  I've read some amazing books recently and I'd desperately love to discuss them.  In the absence of other readers, I'm going to discuss them with myself.  I'm not going to write long, insightful reviews. Ideally, I'd like to write the kind of short and pithy critiques to be found on Ju's Reviews.  Realistically, I shall just aim for short.

I have just finished As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, which was a gripping and profoundly moving experience.  A strange, opaque yet beautiful book that had me straining to understand its deeply flawed and fascinating characters.

Since the beginning of 2014 I have also read:

The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Garder
Fun, easy but thought-provoking Christmas/New Year holiday read.

The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey
Peter Carey is one of my favourite writers.  Meticulous, subtle, humorous and absorbing.  As always

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Weird and wonderful.  Although I was slightly irritated at first by the generous smattering of Spanish slang, the cultural and historical references and the lengthy footnotes, once I had discovered a very helpful website with translations and explanations I was well away.  And in the end, this added to the self-consciousness of the writing and story-telling, one of the things I loved about the book.  I laughed and I learned.

The First Book of Calamity Leek by Paula Lichtarowicz
I whizzed through this book.  A real page turner.  Well-written, original, macarbre and twisted, just how I like them.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
I read Things Fall Apart because I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and she often mentions Achebe as one of her inspirations.   I like to think I read quite widely.  But this book made me realize I don't read widely enough.  It was unlike anything else I've read, about a culture completely alien to me.  I think I need to adventure further beyond Anglophone and European writers in future.  Reading this book made me want to start a book club.

She Rises by Kate Worsley
This never quite came alive for me.  Though I did like the unexpected ending.

Ablutions by Patrick deWitt
Rarely have I had such a visceral reaction to a book.  Set in the drug and alcohol-addicted underbelly of Hollywood, reading this made me feel queasy and quite frankly miserable about the depths that humankind is capable of plummeting.  But it's oh so blackly funny and brilliantly written.  I think I liked it even more than The Sisters Brothers, which I read last year.

Current toilet book (everyone should have a toilet book): working through my collection of Calvin and Hobbes albums.

I appreciate Calvin and Hobbes in a whole new way now I'm parent.


  1. Thanks for sharing and the suggestions. I will check a few of those titles.

  2. Thanks for the plug :-) I told you you'd like Calamity Leek. I've not read any of the others (apart from Calvin & Hobbs...) so I must - at least, the ones you liked! Isn't the Oscar Wao one about the Dominican Republic? I especially ought to read that one cos my aunt and cousins are from there.

    1. Yes, Oscar Wao is indeed about the DR (as it's referred to in the book), that was the learning bit. It does take some work to get into but it's worth it. Bx


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