What Library Staff are Reading – October 2013

  • I have just finished reading And the mountains echoed by Khaled Hosseini. Again he has written of sad, tragic and beautiful events and times, again he has written in such seamless prose that I didn’t notice that I was reading, I thought that I was there. I’m not sure how he does this as I just get so sucked in to the people, their lives, their relationships and their environments. This book is spread over many years, people and relationships in and from Afghanistan, it gives insights in to lives and times in this battered country. A beautiful book and definitely worth reading, had me crying with that sorrowful joy, or joyful sorrow, more than once.
  • I also read Margaret Attwood’s Maddaddam, the final book of the Oryx and Crake trilogy. She also transports me, but  to the horrifying near future that she invisages for us, though in this book of the trilogy I noticed the artifice as I hadn’t in the previous two books. It is however a satisfying finale to the story. David Suzuki’s book Legacy was an appropriate follow up read to this, though I’m afraid that it didn’t make me feel any better about the future of the world until the final chapters.
  • For lighter relief I read the new Phryne Fisher mystery Murder and Mendelssohn, lots about singing and music which suited me,  and the fabulous Phryne in 1920’s Melbourne. The undercurrents were the effects of WW1 on those who were involved, the new methods of detection becoming popular with the Sherlock Holmes stories, and the underground lives of homosexuals in these times.
  • Unnatural Habits by Kerry Greenwood – a book group read. We agreed it was light and breezy reading but some serious topics were covered – feminism and death and dying.
  • Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan – another book group read. Intruiging.
  • Silent Witnesses by Nigel McCrery – McCrery created the Silent Witness TV series. In this book he gives the history of various forensic techniques used by modern crime investigators. This was a fascinating book with some quite complex science explained clearly all backed up with plenty of gruesome examples of crime including, to my delight, one I’d heard of in childhood. That was a thrill.
  • Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant – the first in a series of historical fiction books on the Borgias. There are few more complicated families in history.
  •  Schottenfreude: German words for the human condition by Ben Schott – new to the Library. It was so much fun I had to blog about it – https://readersinthemist.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/schottenfreude-by-ben-schott/
  •  And now I am reading Perfect by Rachel Joyce who also wrote the utterly charming The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Not quite grabbing me like Harold did but I shall perservere.
  • Tucked In: For everyone having a doona day by Meredith Gaston. Gaston is a local artist/author (spends her time between her homes in Blackheath and Berlin), and this is a beautiful and cosy art book to snuggle up with. Gaston was also the artist for the cookbook She’s Leaving Home by Monica Trapaga. What I love best about her art style is its childlike simplicity and playfulness.
  •  Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black by Cookie Mueller. Cookie’s feverish account of her ‘hippy vagabond days’. Mueller was an actress as well as writer, and starred in a number of underground films by John Waters.
  • Role Models by John Waters. Reading this as a compliment to Cookie Mueller’s book, and I love it. John Waters reveals his own role models in creativity and in life. He has a wicked sense of humour, and such an intense and nostalgic love of film and music. This book makes me want to go watch Pink Flamingoes.
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Great, easy to read and laugh out loud funny!)
  • The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend (Supposed to be funny, but I actually found it a little depressing.)
  • Lexicon by Max Barry (Fantastic plot, lots of action, loved it.)
  • Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge (Great futuristic tale where books are being shredded in the name of preservation and Google Glass is old-school technology).
  • Questions of Travel by Michelle De Krester (Enjoyed it.)
  • Do Butlers Burgle Banks by P. G. Wodehouse (Classic, loved the dry humour.)
  • And currently reading Destination Cambodia by Walter Mason, who is speaking at Katoomba Library on Saturday 16 November, 2013.
  • American Rust by Philipp Meyer (Adult Fiction novel)  – loved it and can’t wait to read his next one The Son. A gripping and poignant tale of life in small town modern America – very relevant in light of current politics.
  •  Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Theresa Anne Fowler (Adult Fiction novel)  – I loved this book which is a fictionalised account of the tragic but amazing life of the wife of 1920s author F Scott Fitzgerald. Even if you don’t like his writing this book is a wonderful read, I couldn’t put it down.
  • Schroder by Amity Gaige (Adult Fiction novel) – a good read but emotionally tough on the issues of separation and raising a child.
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Young Adult novel) – just started it but can’t put it down. A very popular author with the YAs so thought I had better try and branch out!
  • Swords and Crowns and Rings’ by Ruth Park – beautifully written.
  • The Book Thief’ by Marcus Zusak
  • How to train your dragon’ by Cressida Cowell (junior fiction) – this is a fantastic series; way better than the movie!
  • Clover Twig and the Perilous Path’ and ‘Clover Twig and the incredible flying cottage’ (junior fiction) by Kaye Umansky – these books are wonderful. I love all her books.
  • The Man who mistook his wife for a hat’ by Oliver Sachs – a very interesting book about some strange neuropsychological conditions.
  • The Tender Moments of Saffron Silk and Nell’s Festival of Crisp Winter Glories by Glenda Millard – the last two books in the “Kingdom of Silk” series.  Absolutely wonderful stories that foster a sense of family and love.  Highly recommended for your primary aged children.
  •  Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – I tried reading this when it first came out and got about half way.  Now I am listening to it on Talking Book – a much better way to “read” it.  I am loving the intrigue and characters of the court brought to life by the reader.  Plus it was a great companion on my recent dash to Canberra.
  • Chronicles of Old Paris – Exploring the Historic City of Light by John Baxter – Discover one of the world s most fascinating and beautiful cities through 29 dramatic true stories spanning the rich history of Paris. From the headless walk of Saint Denis to the seances of the Surrealists, experience 2,000 years of history as John Baxter leads 8 walking tours following in the footsteps of Marie Antoinette, Napoleon, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Ernest Hemingway and many other innovators, artists and expats who found inspiration in the City of Light. Step back in time and experience the city s living history captured in such films as Woody Allen s Midnight in Paris.  It was a great format – a short account followed by the sights to go and see…I might have to go back to Paris now I have found all these hidden historical treasures!
  • Absolute Friends, by John le Carre. This is a book club title, of which I have only read 100-odd pages. He uses words well, there’s an acerbic edge to his prose that is both skilful and, to me, unattractive: international spying, revolution and intrigue is not a subject I usually read novels about, but of course I will read on.
  • Cairo, by John Womersley. Having read his earlier title, Bereft, I was keen to try his next. This one takes place in Melbourne “among the demimonde” says the book’s back cover, “a novel about growing up, the perils of first love, and finding one’s true place in the world.” Womersley’s writing remains poised but I missed the intensity of the earlier novel. I think Womersley is at his best in a tight, poetic space where reality and fantasy elide, and the emotional stakes are ratcheted up.
  • Learning to Talk, by Hilary Mantel. I’m listening to this set of short stories on Talking Book, by the masterful Mantel – she has a unique and witty perspective, with a very dark substructure. The stories grow out of her childhood in England’s north-west. I recommend listening to these stories rather than reading them, you’ll hear accents and cadences your imagination may not supply.

Posted on October 28, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on What Library Staff are Reading – October 2013.

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