What Library Staff are Reading – February 2013

lady dog and horseI have been reading, for forever it seems, 600+ densely typed pages of Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman. I’m at around p450 and at this stage I’m not sure anymore if I’m enjoying it. I want to move on (Frankenstein for book group beckons) and I now know more about stock trading and points of law than I thought I’d ever need, but I’m far enough in that I need to know what happens so will battle on.

In the middle of that, back came Fishing Fleet : Husband-hunting in the Raj by Anne de Courcy. Several weeks ago I’d got to p208 before I’d had to hand it back because someone else wanted to borrow it. It’s a lively recounting of the typical and not-so-typical experiences of the thousands of women who travelled to India where they were a scarce commodity and could all but guarantee to find a husband.

I also read A Deadly Business by Lenny Bartulin. Lenny and PM Newton are scheduled to do an author talk at Springwood Library on 3 April so I wanted to read something by him (PMN was last month). This was a comic detective/mystery romp in contemporary Sydney. Very enjoyable.

And I enjoyed The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller. This is the story of the fall of Troy and the story of Achilles told from the point of view of Achilles’ friend/lover Patroclus. This book attracted much positive critique and I concur; it was a beautiful story.

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner – Sally and Larry meet Sid and Charity when just embarking on their married lives, and the friendship lasts right through to older age. This is a quiet, beautifully modulated novel of relationships set in Wisconsin and the New England area of USA. I’ll look for more by this American writer.

Epilogue: a memoir by Anne Roiphe – the writer’s much-loved husband died, so she kept a journal over the following 16 months. Honest, pulling no punches around the difficult subject of grief in all its manifestations.

Dear Life by Alice Munro – short stories by this master (mistress?) of the art. She’s so good.

Like a House on Fire by Cate Kennedy – and so is she – more short stories by this highly-regarded Tasmanian writer, whose work I will continue to read into the future. There’s a lot of quiet intensity here.

The Dinner by Herman Koch – a fantastic novel: tight plotting, memorable characterisation, a bit reminiscent for me of Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap. I found it compulsive.

Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James – I know, I know, I know – I said it with Fifty Shades of Grey too.  But I have to say, this had a much better storyline than the first book and I did less flicking through.  Still a pretty poor role model for young women.  

Her Fathers Daughter by Alice Pung – It tells the story of Alice and her father, a survivor of Cambodia’s killing fields. Set in Melbourne, China and Cambodia, it is a memoir of memories, of leaving home, of love and worry, of history and how it echoes down the years no matter where you live. http://alicepung.com/blog/

One City – Short stories by Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin, Irvine Welsh with an introduction by J.K. Rowling.  Three stories with Edinburgh as the background.  Really easy read and great snapshots of people.  I love that writers have to establish rapport with the reader really quickly in short stories.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – I loved the HBO television series – now tackling the book…..

A week in winter by Maeve Binchy – Lovely.  Having enjoyed this one, I think I shall have to try some of her others.

Currently reading Anna Funda’s All that I am which is beautifully written so far.

Have just finished Year of wonders by Geraldine Brooks which I enjoyed. I found it well written and its historical context , the plague in England during the 17th Century, interesting and informative.

My heart wanders by Pia Jane Bijkerk – a beautiful book to browse or read. Lovely photography.

How to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you by Matthew Inman – very amusing. And the verdict is – yes, he’s trying to kill me (but I didn’t need this book to tell me that).

The Twelve by Justin Cronin – I’ve been hanging out for this one, and it was well worth it. Just as good as The Passage.

Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears – I was put off reading this one earlier by someone who warned me it was very ‘horsey’. I shouldn’t have been – in a way, this book is not really about horses at all. So beautiful and very well done, it deserves the accolades it has received.

The Conversation by David Brooks – my favourite book in a long time. So interesting and thought provoking. I really savoured this one.

De Luxe by Lenny Bartulin – even though I’m not a huge fan of crime/mystery, I decided to give this one a go because Lenny Bartulin is coming to Springwood in April, and it was a fun, easy read.

Your Vigor for Life Appalls me: Robert Crumb Letters 1958 – 1977 –  Robert Crumb is an American comic book writer and artist who is most famous for his prominence in the underground comics scene, especially in the 60s and 70s. What I liked best about this read (apart from the great title!) was how Crumb’s obsessive enthusiasm for comic book art and writing comes through his letters to friends. He is definitely one of those artists who lives and breathes art.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial by Simon Singh  

Sorry Please Thank You: Stories by Charles Yu – When I saw on the back of this book the author was compared to Philip K Dick, Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams, three authors whose near complete works I have read, I had to give it a go. Big mistake. Some interesting parts but mostly it just dragged on. Some of it was like experimental prose, I know nothing about poetry and prose but I know enough to know that it does not interest me. I ended up skipping at least 1 or two complete stories. The one memorable story that I did enjoy was about a band of characters on a quest in a WOW style video game, it was told from the perspective of the main hero who had very low self esteem.

Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson – This was a re-read and still as enjoyable as when I first read it. RAW has a great way of looking at things and I will try to re read more of his books this year. He died in 2007 and I am yet to find another author that can combine as many different influences.

Graphic Novels :

  • Deadenders by Ed Brubaker 
  • Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman 
  • Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan 
  • Victorian Undead: Sherlock Holmes Vs Zombies by Ian Edginton 
  • Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness by John Layman

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. This is a very moving novel of a man’s journey across Britain. I enjoyed this although it took me a few chapters to get into it.

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