Tuesday 8 October 2013

Books I've Been Reading: August & September

Back in the middle of August I resolved to try and read more books, and it's going quite well so far!

I've been taking books with me on my Nice Days Out and reading them on trains and in cafes which has been great. My plan to read during my lunch break hasn't really worked out - though I am taking a proper break away from the computer, I usually end up reading the paper or doing the crossword or an easy sudoku (I am very bad at sudokus). But wanting to know what happens next in the book I'm reading is proving to be a great antidote to one of my worst habits - staying up late looking up / reading interesting stuff online. Staying up late reading a book in bed is much more relaxing, I'm not staying up quite so late and I also think it's helping me sleep better. Hurrah!

I've been really pleased with how blogging about my day trips has helped me stick with them, so I've decided to blog about the books I've been reading each month in the hope that it'll help me keep up this new habit.

In August I read...

... Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, which is a rather fun tale of angels and demons and prophecies and slightly incompetent satanic nuns. I've heard so many people say how funny this book is, how it's one of their all time faves, etc, that to start with I was a bit disappointed that I wasn't totally bowled over by it, but it really grew on me. I love when you get to that point in a book where you start laughing out loud at the jokes - although this can be a bit embarrasing when you're reading it in a public place, I got to an especially funny bit of this book while standing in the queue in the Post Office!

... Freaky Deaky by Elmore Leonard. I'm a big fan of the TV show Justified which is based on / inspired by an Elmore Leonard short story. I kept reading reviewers saying stuff like "oh, this character/plotline/bit of dialogue is classic Elmore Leonard!" and thinking that I must give his books a try sometime. I did enjoy this book - the snappy dialogue is great - but some of the dated attitudes made for uncomfortable reading. I definitely want to read a couple more of his books sometime, but I'm not going to be rushing to read another one in the same way as I look forward to a new episode of Justified. Ah, admitting I like a TV show more than I liked reading a book makes me feel so lowbrow, haha :)

... and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling. I love the Harry Potter movies but had never read the books - they came out after my teenage sci-fi and fantasy phase was over, and I thought myself much too "grown up" to read "kids books about wizards". But actually now I'm in my 30s I cannot get enough of kids books about wizards and have been gradually working my way through the Harry Potter books when they've been available in my local library. I know I could reserve the next one in the series each time and get hold of them sooner, but the thought of making some kid return a book he or she hasn't finished yet makes me feel so guilty! I'm rather enjoying reading the books after watching the films - there's none of that "oh, that's not how I imagined that character!" you get from seeing the film of a beloved book, and it's a lot of fun discovering all the "extra" characters and scenes that never made it into the films.

Then in September I read...

... Hide My Eyes by Margery Allingham. I got this out of the library last year along with a couple of her other books, and while I enjoyed those I couldn't get into this one and returned it unread. But this time round I was hooked straight away and read the whole book in a great rush over a couple of days, quite gripped by it. You find out who the murder is very early on, and spend the whole book feeling quite anxious for the people who encounter him and feeling quite certain that he's going to bump any/all of them off at any moment should they say the wrong thing or stumble onto the truth of what he's up to.

...Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy L Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh. On finding this book in the library I thought  "Ooh, a Dorothy L Sayers book I haven't read! Oh, it's a "new" one written by another author based on an unfinished manuscript. Ah well, might be worth a try I suppose?" ... and, well, it wasn't really. It took an awful long time to get going and there's a lot of time taken up with depictions of Lord & Lady Wimsey's newly-married life together, people coming to call, problems with servants, etc. A bit like Downton Abbey (with all its period characters saying things that characters from that period would never say to each other) but with a murder in the middle. I also read Striding Folly which is a small collection of wafer-thin Peter Wimsey stories. Like Thrones, Dominations this made me just want to re-read the novels! So, the next book I read was...

... Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers. I did enjoy this but if you've never read any of the Wimsey novels this isn't the best introduction to Sayers' gentleman detective. The mystery of whodunnit and how-they-dunnit is super easy to solve before the characters do and the characters are much better developed in the later books - I remember reading something about how Dorothy L Sayers realised she was stuck with Peter Wimsey as a character when the early books became popular so she worked hard to give his character more depth and make him less of a silly-ass! My mum has all the Peter Wimsey novels and I'm really looking forward to working my way through all of them over the next few months.

... Call for the Dead and A Murder of Quality by John Le Carré. The recent film adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was on TV a few weeks ago and it reminded me just how much I love Le Carré, so I'm working my way through all his Smiley novels. These first two books are slim, quick reads. Call for the Dead is a cross between a spy story / thriller and a whodunnit - a civil servant is accused of being a spy, is investigated and cleared and then kills himself. George Smiley, who had conducted the investigation, plays detective. Then A Murder of Quality is just an enjoyable little murder mystery, no spy stuff whatsoever, as Smiley gets involved with solving a murder at a public school.

... and finally I read The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. I do love a traditional ghost story (M.R. James = the best!) but I have to admit to feeling slightly underwhelmed by this one! There were a couple of spooky moments (helped out by the fact that I was reading it late at night in a quiet, dark house) but otherwise I found it a bit dull, and the ending was terribly predictable. Ah well.

Hmm, that turned into quite a long blog post, didn't it? Apologies if you just come here for crafty bits and pieces - normal service will be resumed tomorrow, with a new tutorial :)

Disclaimer: the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.


KathyH said...

I also love to read and am always on the lookout for recommendations. I'll be checking on some of these at my local library. Thanks! (And your lines at the post office must be even worse than ours if you have time to read!!)

Saraccino said...

Actually I am losing a lot of sleep due to reading late ^^If there is a lot of stress at work and even more deadlines hanging above my head, I forbid myself to buy new books. I can say no to chocolate but I can't stop reading if a book caught me! ;)

Moois van mie said...

i love terry pratcett and harry potter!

unmitigated me said...

I made my husband read the last two Harry Potter stories before he saw the movies because I wanted to talk about them! And I loved Tinker Tailor's latest incarnation. All my favorite actors...Gary Oldman, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and Benedict Cumberbatch. How can you miss?

Bugs and Fishes said...

Kathy - usually my local Post Office isn't too bad but on busy days the lines can be very slow! I hope you'll enjoy some of these books :)

Saraccino - oh yes a good book is very hard to resist! Sorry to hear you're losing sleep though xx

M(i)e - Terry Pratchett is the best! I reread the whole Discworld series every couple of years from start to finish, such enjoyable books.

unmitigated me - there are sooo many great actors in that film, aren't there? I have to admit that my heart belongs to the Alec Guiness version though, I have seen it so many times over the years.

Claire said...

You have done well - that's a lot of books in two months. Thought about joining a book club? I've read some of my best books through other peoples recommendations. Enjoy :)

Claire xx

Bugs and Fishes said...

A big part of the reason I've been getting through them quickly because I've been choosing slim volumes that will fit easily in my bag when I go out for the day! :)

I LOVE the idea of a book club that's just people meeting up to chat about books, I've only ever seen ones where everyone reads the same book that week.