Re: Read 2017

I’m listening to early evening fireworks going off so it is definately that time of year… I’ve listened to reviews on the radio, looked at lists of reviews in the papers, so now its my turn… And you know, I can only do this because of one of my New Year’s resolutions from a couple of years ago has stuck – keeping a list of things I’ve read. No apologies for nerdyism, without it I forget. I absorb them and move on;  now I’m reminded what I’ve read and that reminder brings them back to life.

So, this is what stood out: The Outrun (Amy Liptrot) – I absorbed the cold, wind open landscapes of the Orkneys and also wanted to live in a remote cottage and listen to corncrakes; The Long Walk to Freedom (Nelson Mandela) – fascinating to read his perspective on those long hard years and life. I’ve visited classics in the form of Villette – the French took me by surprise and currently Hard Times – Dickens’ descriptions and characterisations are so good despite his mysogenist characterisations (realistic I guess). On a lighter note, the May Coffin Road and Lewis Trilogy took me to the islands again; Dawn French to NY; and Jackie Fleming’s The Trouble with Women made me laugh out loud and reminded me of those treasured cartoon books I collected in the 80’s.

And now, I feel a New Year’s snack and beverage coming on; …think I’ll  leave Hard Times for a few hours…

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Re: Read 2015

I’m useless at remembering book titles and authors, the same with films and music. But I’m good at remembering the feeling a book leaves me with. I started thinking about what I read in 2015, and then of course I realised I can’t remember that either, so I scoured the bookshelf and put together a list, more or less, and pondered what was good, what not so. Here, I share a bit of it with you…

Around the start of the year I read the Goldfinch (Tartt), I struggled to get into it but stuck with it and it paid off. The life stories of its characters are a bit bizarre, or maybe they just had a lot going on but it made me think; think about the what ifs of losing your place in society, slipping through the net, of hardships and about making your own way and independence and opportunity. Even when I’d finished it, I wasn’t sure about how much I’d enjoyed it but over time its percolated into me and as a result made it onto the enjoyed list.

In contrast, the Wolf Hall epics (Mantel), lacked the feeling of the Goldfinch and left me thinking I’d simply read the history of the wives and entourage of Henry VIII. It was interesting but I didn’t find the emotion in it. I guess, I just kept wondering what was true, what was history, what was the fiction/story; I think I need to know one or the other.

The non-fiction Kabul Beauty School (Rodriguez), in contrast, built upon the apparent reality of the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul and fed my curiosity of life in Afghanistan, especially for women; its light read augmenting my understanding from previous reads such as the great A Thousand Splendid Suns (Hosseini).

It seems to have been a year for story flipping – between characters in The Shoe Maker’s Wife, (Trigiani) and The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle (Wark), time periods in Elizabeth is Missing (Healey) and places in Us (Nicholls). Sometimes I just wished for a continuous story. Most of these were pretty sad, sometimes touching tales addressing dementia, loss and marriage breakdown leaving me feeling like I could do with a good journey to read about. I’d read Wark (I identified with her places) and Healey (her perspective on dementia helps you think about the experience of the sufferer) again; Nicholls tale didn’t live up to One Day, the characters felt overstated.

2015 was the year I was tempted by technology and became a Kindle user. So far I’ve tapped into the extensive library of free classics that I’ve previously not got around to. This feels like good value and so far I’ve read Bronte and Wilde, maybe after a couple more I’ll buy a Kindle book! But, I’ll certainly never give up the smell and touch of real books!

What about 2016? More classics, hopefully some Tove Jansson or Kathleen Jamie, some journeys and some modern classics. Oh, and I’ll make a list so I know what I’ve read.