Saturday, 10 September 2016

Summer reads as promised

My summer reading, with sketchy, brief, thoughtless reviews, now available on my reading page.

How was yours? Give me your TOP READ in the comments. I am on the lookout for good stuff since there are still 12 days until the new Tana French is out and woman cannot live on true crime podcasts alone.


ganching said...

I know I have suggested this before but you must read something/anything by Elizabeth Taylor. I think you would really like her. She is frequently included on lists of the most underrated English writers of the 20C. I re-read them every few years and they never fail to delight.

Sarah Duff said...

Han Kang's 'The Vegetarian' is extraordinary. Everyone must read it.

I am mildly obsessed with Iceland/Greenland, so I enjoyed (although 'enjoy' in the broadest meaning of the word) 'The Prophets of Eternal Fjord' by Kim Leine. It is very long and it's quite bleak and often rather revolting, but if morally dubious eighteenth-century Norwegian/Danish missionaries in Greenland appeals, then I highly recommend it.

Anonymous said...

Amy Liptrot's memoir The Outrun is one of the best books I've read in a long time:

Loretta a/k/a Mrs. Pom said...

Top read: Slade House. Creepy, amusing, bizarre. Perfect summertime read.

Taxmom said...

Well, one of my top summer reads has to be "We'll always have Paris" by a certain E. Beddington. Seriously, I am asking my 20 y.o. son which gal pals of his he wants to fob a copy off on (many of them dreamed of Paris while they sat in High School French) before I place my next order.

Also read, thanks to the wonderful Powells Bookstores in Portland Oregon:

A Manual for Cleaning Women, by Lydia Davis (bitter short stories)

From Moscow to the Black See by Teffi (I found the tone a little offputting. The way she tells it, she keeps getting stuck in confined spaces with these annoying people. Oh yeah, and then most of those ended up being shot. Oh well, they were annoying.)

Nancy Mitford's bio of Frederick the Great. Enjoyed this a lot

And thanks to our extremely well-curated Little Free Library around the corner, a historical novel called "Hild" by Nicola Griffith about St. Hilda. It's growing on me. I keep confusing the Angilscs and the Bryneichs and the Caledaucs and who has the seax and who is whose sister-son etc etc. But it does evoke a feeling of what the air and light and sounds of the 7th century must have been like.

Oh, and I read "Love Nina" by Nina Stibbe back at the beginning of the summer, put onto it by Ganching. I lived in Camden Town for 8 months as a young teenager in the mid 70s and I could imagine the rooms in which the conversations took place.

I must go and check out Slade House, The Outrun, and The Vegetarian.

Taxmom said...

I second Elizabeth Taylor.
Also Elizabeth von Arnim - the pastor's wife is very good. Enchanted April is relatively weak.
Also Sybille Bedford but you old world sophisticates must have read all of her books already. I was blown away when I discovered her about ten years ago.

Flora Fauna Dinner said...

Charles Foster's Being A Beast is absolutely barking. In the best way.

cruella said...

I've been backpacking in China for five weeks which means a) no room for books and b) very slow internet if any at all. Relied on e-books and rediscovered Ursula LeGuin. I envy everyone who has not read her most famous oevre, The Wizard from Earthsea (several books) but her early sci-fi is brilliant. The Left Hand of Darkness had me spellbound.

I also revisited our grand grumpy old man August Strindberg, novelist and playwright - free downloads;)

Anonymous said...

As well as The Outrun, I also read My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, which was enjoyable in an understated kind of way. I loved the miniseries Olive Kitteridge so I got that book as well and will be reading it soon.
Have you ever read anything by Nuala O'Faoilean? Her memoir Are You Somebody? is an all-time favourite of mine. I've ordered Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett and am also about to order The Lonely City by Olivia Laing.
Have you read any of Robert MacFarlane's books? I really like his writing and this summer I picked up a very small book by him (an essay) called The Gifts of Reading, which is excellent. Short and sweet and very inspiring, including a list of books he recommends to readers, such as The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd, which is also on my bedside table waiting to be read.
If only there were more hours in the day and if only so many of them didn't have to be devoted to mindless drudgery and housework!
Changing the subject: I've decided to prioritise exercise this year and have managed to go to a dance class almost every day for the last 3 weeks - not at that horrible snotty dance school where the receptionist looked me up and down and turned up her nose when she said I might not be able to keep up with the level of their classes, but at a nice, friendly gym where people are kind and I always end up laughing. I've started to lose weight but much more importantly, I'm feeling generally more upbeat and lighthearted. It's been a very tough year and it's helping a lot to lighten my load in every way. I'm hoping to be able to keep it up through the autumn and winter and heartily recommend it to everyone out there.

Anonymous said...

On second thoughts, I might run away to Oregon and do goat yoga:

emmyloucarey said...

Everyone is making very high-falutin' suggestions, but I am currently working my way through a n undemanding series of crime books about a forensic archaeologist / amateur sleuth in Norfolk called Ruth Galloway, by Elly Griffiths. Cheesy / formulaic as hell, but I am very much enjoying them...

cruella said...

Anon, I am delighted to hear this, so great! Of the past five years two, not consecutive thank god, have been relatively horrible in different ways so I know at least how important it is to find some outlets or refuges. All the best! I admire you and everyone (including me;) for refusing to give up. Not that it's a choice really, but you know what I mean.

Waffle said...

Anon - First I agree with Cruella and am lost in admiration at your excellence in kicking the past year's crapness in the shins. Secondly GOAT YOGA GOAT YOGA GOAT YOGA.

Anonymous said...

Cruella and Waffle, you are both exceedingly kind! Cruella, I know exactly what you mean by refusing to give up and yes, finding an outlet is indeed crucial. Somehow it's very hard to worry about things while dancing, I have to channel all my efforts into getting the steps right and it gives me a great energy boost as well. Thank you both for your kind words!

Anonymous said...

I have bookmarked this to read at some point, probably in a burst of procrastination at the worst possible moment or else when a more sensible version of myself would be fast asleep in the small hours ;)

MJ said...

I would say that my two best reads this summer were H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald (I know...late to the party; everyone has read it.) and This is not my life by Diane Schoemperlen. Both memoirs which I rarely read but I thoroughly enjoyed both of them even though I've zero interest in training a hawk or dating an incarcerated murderer.

Anonymous said...

Unless I got the recommendation from you in the first place what about Roger Deakin or Robert Macfarlane? Simon Armitage? All Diana Wynne Jones? I have the new Tana French, Ben Aaronovitch and Jonathan Stroud pre-ordered, I am very, very excited about this! I'd meant to keep the latest Elly Griffiths as a treat for when the kids went back to school but I read it in a gulp.

Patience_Crabstick said...

I think my top read this summer was Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. You've probably already read it. I thought she did a really good job of making the Tudors seem very real and human. I particularly enjoyed her portrayal of Thomas Howard the duke of Norfolk. She also set my world upside down a bit. Having been raised Catholic and educated in Catholic schools, I've always been taught to regard Thomas Moore as a saint (he was canonized) but in Wolf Hall he's a villain.

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