What Library Staff are Reading – March 2014

book rain

Well, there were some good rainy days to keep you indoors and nothing to do but read!  So what have your Library staff had their noses in?

  • A Death in the Family: My Struggle  by Karl Ove Knausgard
  • The Last Kestrel by Jill McGivering
  • And I’m dreaming of replacing my shabby kitchen with a new one so flicking through Kitchens by Encorna Castillo
  • I finished the superb Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker with The eye in the door and The ghost road
  • Also finished The railwayman’s wife by Ashley Hall – a beautiful story set in post WWII  Thirroul
  • The Boleyns by David Loade was a bit dense and expected some prior knowledge by the reader I think so if you’re not familiar with Tudor history I’d read up on it first. Also, taking each of the Boleyns by turns (Thomas, Ann, Mary, George and Henry Carey) chronology goes by the wayside.
  • How Many Camels are There in Holland?: Dementia, Ma and Me is a lovely, poignant memoir by actor Phyllida Law about caring for her ailing mother, Mego, which is by turns funny and sad.
  • Now I’m re-reading Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed for book group.
  • And for my other book group we’ve been reading Why Australia hates asylum seekers by Christos Tsiolkas, an article in The Monthly last September. Should generate an interesting discussion.
  • I  read some enjoyable escapist fiction : The winter sea by Di Morrissey ; Fugitive blue by Claire Thomas and The Pagoda tree by Claire Scobie which was a really good read set in India and very insightful in regard to the role of women in Indian culture.
  • And I revisited Venice in non fiction : Venetian dreaming by Paula Weideger and John Berendt’s City of falling angels as I’m planning a return visit in May.
  • Red Land, Black Land – Daily life in Ancient Egypt by Barbara Mertz – (also writes as Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels) This author actually earned a doctorate in Egyptology from Chicago’s Oriental Institute.  This was first published in 1966 but has had several revisions.  Mertz has kept the subject lively with scattered personal musing and opinions.  She has a lovely dry sense of humour.  She touches on daily routines, mystical rituals and stirring stories, but she also gives plenty of extremely detailed explanations of the more standard Egyptian subjects: mummification, hieroglyphics, pyramid building, as well as gods and goddesses.  This is an excellent guide for those who wish an overview of Egyptology that is a step up from most books written for a general audience but is not so minute in its discourse as to lose the sense of the human story.  http://www.mpmbooks.com/nonfiction.html
  • Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella – I can’t believe it!  I have discovered another wonderful author that concentrates on characters and friendships…(Kinsella is better known for her Shopaholic series which I have never read!).  This is a wonderful story about a girl who has an accident in 2004, but wakes up in 2007.  No, she hasn’t been in a coma all that time, she has lost her memory and 3 whole years of her life are missing!  She wakes up to a gorgeous husband, her teeth are straight, she is a boss at work and her home is a loft style apartment that feels more like a show home….is this the perfect life or what?  You will have to read it to find out.  I loved it and was sorry to finish the book.  It was like losing a friend.  http://www.sophiekinsella.co.uk/books/stand-alone-novels/remember-me/
  • The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood – it had all the elements that I like – set in France – supposedly Versailles!  Lots of gripping food recipes, a sumptuous read I was promised!  It even had on the cover, recommended by Megalong Books staff!  All I can say is that it is a great book for a man to read.  Set in 18th Century France, based upon the life of an orphan.  Versailles is mentioned in a couple of chapters and the main character, Jean-Marie, looks after the sick animals from the Versailles zoo.  If they die, or they prove problematic, he eats them.  There is much eating of exotic animals with their recipes throughout the book.  I found the story very masculine.  I loved the ending – it made up for the rest of the book.  http://www.jonathangrimwood.com/
  • Dust by Hugh Howey- the final in the Wool trilogy, where in the near future the air is poisonous and people live underground. The least enjoyable of the books for me, although still well worth the read. A few unexplained (and unexplainable) plot points emerge as things wrap up.
  • Children of Men by PD James- Continuing with the Dystopian Future theme, this book suggests we may go out with a whimper rather than a bang, as the human race suddenly becomes infertile, and the population slowly starts to dwindle across the globe. So many exciting doomed futures for us to contemplate!
  • The Love and Death of Caterina, by Andrew NicollNicoll’s other novel was The Good Mayor. He’s a fine writer, who creates rounded characters whom you care about. On the other hand, this novel proceeds in an ironic vein so that all characters are seen through that distancing device. Poor Caterina is a fly caught in the web of the ‘famous writer’, Luciano Valdez, much revered in his country (what country is it? Feels like Argentina, but it’s never stated). As the novel opens, Valdez has a case of writer’s block so entrenched that when asked “How’s your latest novel going?” he has to lie, and does so convincingly. In general he is a nasty piece of work whose nastiness the idealist Caterina is determined not to see. Such an absorbing, well-crafted novel, this one.
  • Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson – Courtroom dramas aren’t my favourite thing; but Guterson gives us the whole intricate life of the people of San Piedro Island through the lens of a court case. This island (fictional?) sits in the cold waters east of Vancouver Island, and is home to expert salmon fishermen, and strawberry growers. The fierce weather is an important character in the novel, conditioning how the people live and work. The year is 1954. Kabuo Miyamoto is accused of the murder of fellow fisherman Carl Heine. The novel unpicks the lives of the many people affected by this death. The detail is extraordinary, compelling, never dull. And important philosophical concerns underpin it all.
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi.
  • The Eyrie by Tim Winton – Loved it, my favourite Winton. The ending was fairly ambiguous though…
  • Neil Gaiman’s ‘make good art’ speech: fantastic mistakes by Neil Gaiman – Fantastic. What an inspiring guy.
  • Coal Creek by Alex Miller – Fabulous.
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – Fantastic plot, interesting characters, great read.
  • Cairo by Chris Womersly – Great imagery. Love the storyline and art theme.
  • The Full Ridiculous by Mark Lamprell – Lovely, humorous, easy to read story, with a good-feel message.
  • This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett – This memoir is a great read, exploring her life as a writer and as a wife (and dog lover). Really lovely.
  • Currently reading (and enjoying) Paul Auster’s Brooklyn Follies, Besieged: Life under fire on a Sarajevo street by Barbara Demick, and On Kindness by Adam Phillips.
  • Knitting, by Anne Bartlett (audiobook) – This book about loss, unlikely friendships and long-held secrets was longlisted for the 2006 Miles Franklin Award. It’s been an enjoyable listen.
  • Au Revoir, by Mary Moody – Mary ran away from home at fifty to find herself, in beautiful provincial France. I liked travelling vicariously through her story, having a wonderful armchair holiday.
  • Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C, O’Brien – I really enjoyed this book once I got into it, especially the history of the rats of NIMH and their plans for the future.
  • Wonder by R.J. Palaciao
  • Food Cures: breakthrough nutritional prescriptions for everything from colds to cancer by the Readers Digest Association (Australia).

And what have you been reading?

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