What we are Reading - The 2019 Edition

1246

Comments

  • ChoristerChorister Shipmate
    My normal practice is to have a fiction and a non-fiction on the go simultaneously
    My normal practice is to read a novel and then something non-fiction, alternately. Currently, I'm reading a book of several case studies, where each person has dementia. 'And still the music plays' by Graham Stokes. Each describes the onset of the illness, from 'do they / don't they?' until absolute certainty and, ultimately, death. A useful read for those following the 'Aging Relatives' thread as well as - sadly - those who have to face this issue much earlier on in their lives.

  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    My reading of the Maigret novels proceeds. A little while back, I finished "The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien," which I really liked! Outside of his jurisdiction, Maigret follows a suspicious man who carries a cheap suitcase. Maigret buys a similar suitcase, fills it with newspaper, and makes a switch, continuing to follow the man to see his reaction when he discovers the switch. The man, finding the newspapers, snaps his fingers, pulls out a gun, and commits suicide. Understandably, Maigret feels responsible, but he is even more confused when he opens the real suitcase and just finds a suit of clothes that the dead man clearly could not have worn. Some translations title this story "The Crime of Inspector Maigret"--which is fair enough.

    I followed that up with "A Man's Head"--in which Maigret believes that a convicted murder is innocent. So he arranges the man's escape. Things go downhill from there. This is definitely a classic from the early days of Georges Simenon.

    I have just started "The Yellow Dog. After two really good ones, I was prepared for a let down. It is still early yet, but I don't think this one is going to merit a further posting from me.
  • TwilightTwilight Shipmate
    I've recently discovered Andrew Sean Greer, first with his Pulitzer Prize winner Less and today with, The Story of a Marriage. There really aren't that many literary novels on the shelves these days, mystery series and science fiction being so popular. Nothing wrong with those, but it is a pleasure to read such beautiful writing. Greer is gay and his gay characters have a subtlety and full development not often found in literature.
  • NenyaNenya Shipmate
    Nenya wrote: »
    Has anyone read A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry? It's our next book club book after Pompeii - which we're discussing on Monday evening. Looking forward to that.

    We had a great evening discussing Pompeii but I could only skim-read A Fine Balance, I didn't care enough about anyone in it and some of it was just horrific.

    I am away for the weekend on a retreat (bliss...) and have brought some Mary Oliver poetry with me.
  • TwilightTwilight Shipmate
    Nenya wrote: »
    I could only skim-read A Fine Balance, I didn't care enough about anyone in it and some of it was just horrific.
    Ditto

  • NenyaNenya Shipmate
    Twilight wrote: »
    Nenya wrote: »
    I could only skim-read A Fine Balance, I didn't care enough about anyone in it and some of it was just horrific.
    Ditto

    Thank you - I'm so glad it's not just me.
  • TrudyTrudy Heaven Host
    I dimly recall A Fine Balance as being one of the most depressing books I've ever read.
  • NenyaNenya Shipmate
    Trudy wrote: »
    I dimly recall A Fine Balance as being one of the most depressing books I've ever read.

    That's a quote to be used at the book group later this month. :wink:
  • Graven ImageGraven Image Shipmate
    I am re-reading "The Foxfire Books," How mountain people lived in Eastern USA 100 years ago. The one I am reading now covers, hog dressing, log cabin building, planting by the signs, snake lore, faith healing, mountain crafts, food and making moon shine whiskey. Under food it was fun to see some of the things my grandmother would make, green tomato pickles being one.
  • This year's discovery has been Denise Mina. I enjoy crime fiction, but don't like gore. And I hate the sort of maverick cop type of crime fiction when it is clear that in real life half the evidence would be inadmissible in court, and a conviction impossible to obtain. Denise Mina's books are neither gory nor annoying.

    So far this year I've read all five Alex Morrow novels, and the first in the Garnethill trilogy. I've just finished her latest, stand-alone novel Conviction. It's fast paced and gripping.

    I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the Garnethill books.
  • Barnabas_AusBarnabas_Aus Shipmate
    I have just finished Cavalier by Lucy Worsley, the biography of William Cavendish, first Duke of Newcastle. It's been around for a few years but I picked my copy up in a remainder bookshop near here. I found it interesting for the insights into some of the social issues around the English Civil War, and his passion for horses and their display. Coincidentally, the TV series Treasures of the British Library has been screening here, and in the Fiona Bruce episode, there was displayed a first edition of Cavendish's treatise on the art of the manege.

    I've now started a memoir by the Australian-based composer and broadcaster Andrew Ford entitled The Memory of Music. Ford was born in Liverpool, moved to Kent as a young boy and eventually chose composition as a career, and has lived here for many years. I have just reached the end of his school days, and so far it's been an enjoyable read.
  • LothlorienLothlorien All Saints Host
    Hedgehog wrote: »
    A few months back I discovered that Penguin Books has been reprinting all the Georges Simenon Maigret books. (Apparently, they have been doing so since 2013--so, welcome to MY life; a 5-year delay in realizing something is what passes for normal).

    I have already finished Pietr the Latvian which was the first book published. I am just starting The Carter of 'La Providence', which Penguin Books is considering #4 in the series although other internet sources tell me was actually book #2.

    It doesn't really matter, because Simenon bounced back and forth through different periods in Maigret's career. Heck, Pietr the Latvian kills off a character who becomes a semi-regular in later books! But I like publication order.

    Thank you for this info. I will investigate.

  • venbedevenbede Shipmate
    Readin Colin Watson's Flaxborough novels and they are good. Just got to the first one where the wonderful Miss Teatime comes to Flaxborough. Watson makes every minor character individual and memorable and it is a delight.

    Also just finished Virginia Woolf's Between the Acts. It is about a village pageant and I suddenly noticed that Woolf and P G Wodehouse were almost exact contemporaries. Wodehouse is fond of village pageants and reviews (The Mating Season for example). Woolf (Mrs Woolf as we were taught to call her at school) has a sense of humour but it comes out a bit different from Wodehouse.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    edited July 5
    Wouldn’t you love to read the book where Wodehouse and Woolf are involved in the same village pageant? It is being organised by those bright young things, the Sitwells, with music by their quaint friend from Lancashire. G.K Chesterton turns up under the impression he is somewhere else.

    There is, of course, a murder. But fortunately a retired Belgian policeman is staying at the vicarage...
  • NenyaNenya Shipmate
    I'm now reading and enjoying H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.
  • TwilightTwilight Shipmate
    I am re-reading "The Foxfire Books," How mountain people lived in Eastern USA 100 years ago. The one I am reading now covers, hog dressing, log cabin building, planting by the signs, snake lore, faith healing, mountain crafts, food and making moon shine whiskey. Under food it was fun to see some of the things my grandmother would make, green tomato pickles being one.

    Thanks for reminding me. I just loved those books, they're true treasures. I built that log cabin in my head and loved every minute of it.
  • Tree BeeTree Bee Shipmate
    I’m reading Tombland by CJ Sansom, a chunky tome of a book. It’s manly set in Norwich in Tudor times, before and during Kett’s Rebellion.
    Really enjoying it, mainly because I know Norwich well. We used to drive up Kett’s hill by Mousehold Heath to visit my Nana in Sprowston.
  • DooneDoone Shipmate
    Tree Bee wrote: »
    I’m reading Tombland by CJ Sansom, a chunky tome of a book. It’s manly set in Norwich in Tudor times, before and during Kett’s Rebellion.
    Really enjoying it, mainly because I know Norwich well. We used to drive up Kett’s hill by Mousehold Heath to visit my Nana in Sprowston.

    Yes, I’ve really enjoyed the whole Sansom Tudor series with Shardlake. Gritty and realistic storytelling, with a good historic background.
  • NicoleMRNicoleMR Shipmate
    I just read The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in high Anglo Catholic worship who is also interested in Arthurian lore and the grail, and likes an endearing, sweet love story.
  • TrudyTrudy Heaven Host
    Doone wrote: »
    Tree Bee wrote: »
    I’m reading Tombland by CJ Sansom, a chunky tome of a book. It’s manly set in Norwich in Tudor times, before and during Kett’s Rebellion.
    Really enjoying it, mainly because I know Norwich well. We used to drive up Kett’s hill by Mousehold Heath to visit my Nana in Sprowston.

    Yes, I’ve really enjoyed the whole Sansom Tudor series with Shardlake. Gritty and realistic storytelling, with a good historic background.

    I'm not sure if I mentioned this in an earlier conversation about Shardlake, but I read this with great (and sad) interest knowing from interviews that C.J. Sansom has a rather nasty kind o f cancer and this might be his last Shardlake novel. I was interested to see if he would leave his characters in a place where it might feel OK to walk away from them. I would still wish for a little more personal happiness for poor old Shardlake; he never seems to catch many breaks in life! As with the rest of the books in the series, I enjoyed learning the history in this one. I hadn't known about Kett's Rebellion at all before reading this novel.
  • DooneDoone Shipmate
    Trudy wrote: »
    Doone wrote: »
    Tree Bee wrote: »
    I’m reading Tombland by CJ Sansom, a chunky tome of a book. It’s manly set in Norwich in Tudor times, before and during Kett’s Rebellion.
    Really enjoying it, mainly because I know Norwich well. We used to drive up Kett’s hill by Mousehold Heath to visit my Nana in Sprowston.

    Yes, I’ve really enjoyed the whole Sansom Tudor series with Shardlake. Gritty and realistic storytelling, with a good historic background.

    I'm not sure if I mentioned this in an earlier conversation about Shardlake, but I read this with great (and sad) interest knowing from interviews that C.J. Sansom has a rather nasty kind o f cancer and this might be his last Shardlake novel. I was interested to see if he would leave his characters in a place where it might feel OK to walk away from them. I would still wish for a little more personal happiness for poor old Shardlake; he never seems to catch many breaks in life! As with the rest of the books in the series, I enjoyed learning the history in this one. I hadn't known about Kett's Rebellion at all before reading this novel.

    Yes, I had heard that very sad news and that it would probably be the last book. I only knew the about bare bones of Kett’s Rebellion and part of what I love about Sansom is that he makes the history come alive, expertly weaving known facts into his fictional accounts. I do agree with you about poor , but I guess it all adds to the realism of what would probably have been his destiny, given his disability!
  • EigonEigon Shipmate
    I've just been reading The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. It's on the short list for the Hugos this year, and it's the best book I've read this year.
    She gets the atmosphere of the 1950s space race very well, though this is an alternate timeline in which a meteorite hit the Earth (and wiped out Washington DC and most of the US government). The climate change this causes means that, if the human race is to survive, they've got to get off the planet. The main character is a woman "computer" who was a WASP pilot during the Second World War, and becomes a public face of the space race as the Lady Astronaut.
    The film and book Hidden Figures show the reality of the space program at that period from the point of view of the "colored computers" - also highly recommended!
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Tukai wrote: »
    As one of the students remarks before dropping out, "I don't think Jesus Christ would pass the theology exams here, because he hasn't read Aquinas or studied Fr Costello's lecture notes".

    I learned a long time ago that success at school depends not on knowing what is right, but on knowing what the teacher thinks is right.

    I'm reading This Train Is Bound For Glory: The Story of America's Chapel Cars by Wilma Rugh Taylor and Norman Thomas Taylor. It's a chronicle of the late 19th/early 20th century phenomenon known as chapel cars: railroad cars equipped as traveling churches that brought the Gospel to unchurched frontier towns in the American West. I'll be doing a MW report soon on a church that was built around one of these chapel cars.
  • It is 31°C here today, still rising, and appropriately, the library copy of "Hell and Damnation - A sinner's guide to eternal torment", by Marq de Villiers, arrived this morning. It is actually a scholarly work - he's researched the topic exhaustively within the obvious limitations - and it's funny, too. One of the reviewers says, "A damned good book". I'm not far into it yet, but I think he's right. I heard the author interviewed on CBC Radio and put in a library request right away.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    Nenya wrote: »
    I'm now reading and enjoying H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.

    I've heard it's a wonderful read.

    Thank you to those who made mention of Georges Simenon; the library has several in its collection and I shall pick up one this week.

    I just read Goethe's The man of fifty (in English, I add) which was an entertaining read. I think I prefer Young Werther though. I am making my way through Tessa Hadley's Late in the day -- not sure if it is the mood I'm in, but I'm feeling things are a bit over described. It is wonderfully written, and I am engaged, but I do not seem as interested in the detail of the decor as Hadley wants me to be. But as I said I am enjoying it.
  • Currently rereading Robertson Davies, after a gap of several years. Started with the Cornish Trilogy, then the Salterton, and now halfway through Deptford. As well as the wonderful play of ideas, this time I'm struck by how well he draws characters. There are so many minor folk I end up getting drawn to.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    I’m reading Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King. I enjoy it and it’s my first Bellow read. I’m also reading John Berryman’s collected poetry, which I love because Berryman was quite brilliant, though his earlier work is quite tame compared to his middle and late poetry.
  • DooneDoone Shipmate
    I’ve really enjoyed Dear Diary Boy: An Exacting Mother, Her Free-Spirited Son, and Their Bittersweet Adventures in an Elite Japanese School by Kumihara Makihara. Interesting on many levels.
  • "Assassination Vacation," by Sarah Vowell. A funny but true look at American History with a bit of gossip included. I will never look at our Founding Fathers ( or Mothers ) the same away again.
  • NenyaNenya Shipmate
    Climacus wrote: »
    Nenya wrote: »
    I'm now reading and enjoying H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.

    I've heard it's a wonderful read.

    It is. I was sorry to finish it.

    I've just reread Ursula le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea and have just started the second book in the series, which I haven't read before. Our next book group book is Jamaica Inn (Daphne du Maurier) and I'll be leading the discussion in a few weeks' time.
  • ChoristerChorister Shipmate
    'Still Alice' by Lisa Genova. A very poignant novel (but based on realistic accounts) of a very intelligent Harvard professor who falls victim to Early-Onset Alzheimer's. The story is unusually told from the perspective of the sufferer. It gives great insight into the way someone's mind unravels over time, and is endorsed by the Alzheimer's Society.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    Thanks again to those who mentioned Simenon. Not even 19:30 on a cold, rainy winter's night and I'm tucked up in bed reading A crime in Holland and enjoying it very much.

    Not sure if I mentioned it before but I'm also dipping in and out of the very well-written The Penguin History of New Zealand, recommended by a colleague. Definitely giving me a good knowledge of the history of this land.
  • ChoristerChorister Shipmate
    Just started 'The man who mistook his wife for a hat' (Oliver Sachs), fascinating insights into what can happen when the brain, particularly the right side of the brain, isn't functioning normally, due to disease or injury. Each case is told as a story rather than a clinical case (although Sachs is fully qualified and practising on that level too), which gives dignity to the patients - who are treated very much as people, not medical experiments - and also makes the descriptions fascinating, interesting and easy to read.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    I just finished Have Spacesuit—Will Travel by Heinlein. I felt the book had some obvious storytelling flaws, but maybe that's a sign of its time, and storytelling has moved on since then. I liked the detailed description of the spacesuits, Heinlein was obviously nerding out a bit here.

    Was this book the start of the "small group of people represent humanity which is on trial for its barbarious acts" trope? I remember it from the Star Trek episode Encounter at Farpoint Station.
  • DooneDoone Shipmate
    Chorister wrote: »
    Just started 'The man who mistook his wife for a hat' (Oliver Sachs), fascinating insights into what can happen when the brain, particularly the right side of the brain, isn't functioning normally, due to disease or injury. Each case is told as a story rather than a clinical case (although Sachs is fully qualified and practising on that level too), which gives dignity to the patients - who are treated very much as people, not medical experiments - and also makes the descriptions fascinating, interesting and easy to read.

    Oh, yes, you’ve reminded me that I read this years ago and found it absolutely fascinating!
  • LeRoc wrote: »
    I just finished Have Spacesuit—Will Travel by Heinlein. I felt the book had some obvious storytelling flaws, but maybe that's a sign of its time, and storytelling has moved on since then. I liked the detailed description of the spacesuits, Heinlein was obviously nerding out a bit here.

    Was this book the start of the "small group of people represent humanity which is on trial for its barbarious acts" trope? I remember it from the Star Trek episode Encounter at Farpoint Station.

    As a teenager I loved that book, and reread it often. Heinlein's juvenile fiction stands up a lot better than many writers who dumbed down for kids. Asimov is a relevant case in point.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I have enjoyed Oliver Sacks books and found them fascinating. I liked the one where he talked about himself having prosopagnosia (face-blindness) and having no sense of direction, and how the two go together, because I have these too, and so it was interesting personally, and also good to hear it described personally rather than as something a patient experienced.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    adds Oliver Sacks to list of authors he needs to pick up from the library...they sound fascinating; thank you
  • HuiaHuia Shipmate
    I was saddened to read about C.J Sanson's declining health. Like Doone and Trudy I have read and enjoyed all the Shardlake books. In an interview I remember that was published in The Guardian I remember him being quoted as saying he hoped to write one set when Elizabeth was on the throne, which he was looking forward to writing as I was to reading.

    I have a couple of books about Thomas Cromwell on order from the library, inspired by Sanson's depiction of him.
  • LothlorienLothlorien All Saints Host
    Twilight wrote: »
    I am re-reading "The Foxfire Books," How mountain people lived in Eastern USA 100 years ago. The one I am reading now covers, hog dressing, log cabin building, planting by the signs, snake lore, faith healing, mountain crafts, food and making moon shine whiskey. Under food it was fun to see some of the things my grandmother would make, green tomato pickles being one.

    Thanks for reminding me. I just loved those books, they're true treasures. I built that log cabin in my head and loved every minute of it.
    We had the series when sons were small. Seven in series, I think. I have no idea what happened to them but they did not follow me. I loved them.I could have done without the references to eating possum heads, even knowing that possums down here are a different species. An insight into a totally different way of life to mine, different even too to pioneer life here.

  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    I’ve just finished the latest in the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch. Spanking read, but means I have to look around for another lightweight fantasy.
  • NicoleMRNicoleMR Shipmate
    Ooooh, the Rivers of London books are fantastic!
  • TwilightTwilight Shipmate
    Speaking of rivers I just finished, "Once Upon a River," by Diane Setterfield. The story begins in a pub along the western end of the Thames in 1887. Someone stumbles in carrying the apparently lifeless body of a small girl and the story takes off as four separate people claim the child as their own. Atmospheric, intriguing, interesting characters; I really enjoyed it.
  • HuiaHuia Shipmate
    edited July 21
    Thanks to Firenze's post I just discovered that there are 2 books in the Rivers ofLondon series that I haven't read. I have requested one, but I might wait a while for the other as I have a heap of unread books including two biographies of Thomas Cromwell, both the novels Hilary Mantel wrote about him, and a couple of murder mysteries to read. Also I'm away for a week in August and will only take ebooks with me.

    Happiness is having lots of books to read. :smiley:
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    You must be very happy indeed! :smiley:
  • caroline444caroline444 Shipmate
    Huia - I now tend to be 99% a non-fiction reader, but I used to love the Shardlake books. I really felt I was being transported back into Tudor times. CJ Sanson was wonderful at drumming up a sense of place and atmosphere. Very sorry to hear that he is unwell.
  • NicoleMRNicoleMR Shipmate
    I just finished the newest Lois McMaster Bujold novella, The Orphans of Raspay. It's the lates in her "Penric and Desdemona" fantasy series, and for now only available in e format. I do so love all of her work, fantasy and sci fi!
  • EigonEigon Shipmate
    I've just finished The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (as recommended by NicoleMR).
    I decided I wanted to live aboard the Wayfarer the moment Rosemary stepped into the Fishbowl for dinner. Cool ship, cool crew (even Corbin, in the end), and kind, humane discussions of the issues the various crew members are facing.

    Next I'm stepping into fantasy Jane Austen territory (apparently) with Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    Proving my one-track mind, re the mention of Georges Simenon above I'm waiting for the bus to town to borrow books six, seven and eight of his -- I greatly enjoyed the other 5.

    I did slip in After the Funeral by Agatha Christie between books 4 and 5 of Simenon.

    In the non-fiction department I am greatly enjoying David Spiegelhalter's The Art of Statistics. I've heard him on several radio programmes and he certainly has the skill in explaining how to understand, and not be misled by, statistics*; and this book continues that excellence looking at how we can use data to make decisions. He chooses, to me at least, interesting examples and has a very engaging writing style.


    * hardly surprising given he is Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory at the University of Cambridge
  • NicoleMRNicoleMR Shipmate
    Just read the new Rivers of London graphic novel, Water Weed. Not as good as some of the others, I didn't think, but still entertaining.
Sign In or Register to comment.