31 May 2013

Friday book list # 7: Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey

Books mentioned in Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey.

The Books of Knowledge. (Encyclopedias)
'Short Account of the Life and Works of Jai Jeewan Lal Bahadur, Late Honorary Magistrate, Delhi,with Extracts from his Diary Relating to the Time of Mutiny, 1857' (family history, not clear whether it was printed or a private book)

1066 and All That (full title: 1066 and All That: A Memorable History of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 Good Things, 5 Bad Kings and 2 Genuine Dates, by W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman).
'The Biography of Emperor Akbar' by Abul Fazl (real book but I couldn't find the official title)
Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management
Our Viceregal Life in India by Lady Dufferin 

Folk tales, fairy tales and religious texts:
Grimm's Fairy Tales

The Ramayana (the Tulsidas version, properly called the Ramcharitmanas)

Godan by Munshi Premchand

Hamlet (by William Shakespeare) 
The Importance of Being Earnest (by Oscar Wilde)

A Midsummer Night's Dream (by William Shakespeare)
The Pied Piper of Hamelin. No author mentioned.

Robin Hood and His Merry Men

Madhushala (The Tavern/The House of Wine) by Harivansh Rai Bachchan

28 May 2013

Top Ten Tuesdays: Books about or taking place in India that I recommend for one reason or another, written by outsiders

Top ten Tuesdays is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Visit the hosting blog to read more lists. Today is freebie day, so you can never know what to expect until you click on a link to visit a particular blog.

I am an indophile and will probably continue to visit India for the rest of my life. My only regret is that it would take several lifetimes to explore it as thoroughly as I would like. Naturally, I read a lot of books about India. These are some that I liked for one reason or another.

 Ten recommended books about India by outsiders:

  1. City of Djinns by William Dalrymple. The author traces the history of the city and tells the story of his own stay there. I didn’t explore the city much on my first visit to India, indeed I found it to be rather overwhelming, dirty, noisy and crowded, but after reading this I decided to give it a chance when I went there again, and have found it quite endearing ever since, albeit only in small doses.
  2. Holy Cow! An Indian Adventure by Sarah Macdonald. This is no masterpiece, but it is an honest and occasionally funny portrayal of modern India, seen through the eyes of an expat. I made the mistake of lending it to my mother shortly before I left for a 5-week trip to India, and she said it made her worried and afraid for me the whole time I was away.
  3. Kevin and I in India by Frank Kusy. I picked up this book, which seems to be out of print, in a second-hand bookshop in Kathmandu (Nepal) many years ago, and have read it a number of times over the years. It is – or seems to be – a transcript of Kusy’s travel journal while visiting India, and describes the India experienced by budget travellers very well. It also happens to be very, very funny.
  4. Simon Winchester’s Calcutta. Winchester wrote an essay about Calcutta for the book and chose passages from fiction, non-fiction and poetry that he believes reflect the character of the city. I have never been here, but may go there on my next India trip.
  5. An Area of Darkness by V.S. Naipaul. Written by a man of Indian descent who was visiting his ancestral land. He gives lovely descriptions of people and places – especially Kashmir – but the book is also full of the sense of alienation and disappointment he felt when he finally came to India for the first time as an adult.
  6. Children of Kali by Kevin Rushby. Don’t read it for the examination of the thuggee cult or that of modern criminal castes in India, both of which are inconclusive (but interesting), but for Rusby’s experiences as a visitor to places few foreigners ever visit, and for his open-minded interactions with the locals.
  7. The Raj at Table: A Culinary History of the British in India, by David Burton. This is a delightful look at food and the Raj and how Indian cuisine influenced British cuisine.
  8. Plain Tales from the Raj: Images of British India in the Twentieth Century, edited by Charles Allen. A look at the varied experienced of the British in India during the Raj.
  9. Travels on my Elephant by Mark Shand. The tale of Shand’s journey around northern India with Tara the elephant. Delightful descriptions of life in India and the problems associated with travel by elephant.
  10. No Full Stops in India by Mark Tully. A collection of articles about a variety of social issues in modern India.
  1. The Age of Kali by William Dalrymple. 
Warning: The last two books make somewhat dreary reading, but will give a decidedly not romantic overview of some of the issues and problems of modern India.

My Brontë project

I have gotten a bit ahead of myself by posting some reading journal entries for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall before posting an introduction to my little Brontë project.

For one reason or another, the Brontë sisters have been on my mind lately. First I got into an enjoyable discussion about Jane Eyre and then I had two occasions, within a short interval, to mention my horrid experience of reading Wuthering Heights. Then I reread Stella Gibbons' gem of a novel, Cold Comfort Farm, in which one of the characters, Mr. Mybug, is writing a life of Branwell Brontë, who he claims wrote all the novels attributed to his sisters. This naturally brought up the titles of some books by the Brontës, including Shirley and Villette, and it occurred to me that I really should read them. This led to a decision to read all of them, because Why Not?
JE and WH may be the most popular of the sisters' oeuvre, but the others wouldn't be mentioned so frequently in other books and literary discussions if their only merit was the connection with those two.

A reading of all the books would of course include a second chance for WH and a reread of JE, which I remember liking but somehow feel like I haven't read because all I remember of it is the stuff everyone knows about it because of the film adaptations and frequent mentions in other literature and popular culture, like Mr. Rochester's mad wife, the fire and "Reader, I married him". I look forward to revisiting it. I will, however, have to be in the right mood to read WH if I am to have any chance of enjoying it.

I have always given somewhat superficial reasons for my dislike of Wuthering Heights: set reading, horrible characters, expected a love story and got a tale of madness and obsession instead, etc. - basically all the usual reasons. I have, however, come to realise that there were deeper underlying reasons which made WH extra horrid for me. One is that I simply was emotionally unprepared for it. It packs a considerable emotional wallop, nearly all of it negative, and I was a) not mature enough to handle it, and b) I was depressed without realising it and all the negativity made it worse. I am in a better place emotionally right now, I recognise the signs of depression in myself and know how to handle them, and I am (I think) better prepared to enjoy this book now than I was 20 years ago.

As for the rest, I look forward to reading them and discovering the differences between the sisters' styles and storytelling methods and to hopefully discovering some new favourites among them. I suspect my current read may turn out to be just that. 

I could make this a challenge and commit to writing about it regularly and finish it within a given time, but I don't plan to. The books are on the TBR list and in my Kindle, and it is enough for now that I have decided to read them. If I feel like it, I will write about them and post reading journal entries, notes, favourite passages and possibly reviews and/or comparisons, but it remains to be seen when I finish them.

27 May 2013

Reading journal for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, part 3

Since I'm on my coffee break at work I decided it was a good time to write down more of the thoughts I am having about this book.

I like the story so far. I am a little further on into Helen's narrative than I was last time, and things are progressing. Her narrative is diary entries, whereas Gilbert's opening narrative is letters to his brother-in-law, but this is no "dear diary" kind of thing. She is clearly writing for an audience (the reader), but since she of course doesn't know she is a character in a book one must assume the audience is, who? Herself? Or was Anne just being clumsy when she wrote it?

The man who I assume will turn out to be the cause of all her troubles and the father of her son is the charming but obviously somewhat rakish (to the reader and certain of the characters, although not Helen who seems to think he is just a lovable rascal) Mr. Huntingdon, which brings me to the names of the characters.

Gilbert's surname is Markham, which is a farmer's name (mark = boundary and ham = homestead), and he is a farmer.
The name of Mr. Boarham, one of Helen's suitors, seems to be onomatopoeic: bore 'em, but could also refer to his age and general condition (boar = adult male pig and ham = porky, fat).
As for Mr. Huntingdon, he is, where I am at in the book, clearly hunting or stalking Helen (or, in the chapter where I stopped reading, increasing her attraction by feigning disinterest), having, as it were, scented her attraction to him. The "hunt" in his name is therefore apt, and it is also a distinguished sounding name, which suggests he is a gentleman.

Helen's name is suggestive of Helen of Troy, over whom a great war was fought. I wonder if that will be the case?

I am reading this book very slowly, a chapter or two at a time. This is typical for me when I find a book I enjoy. I either devour it in one or two long reading sessions, or I draw out the reading for as long as I can. Sometimes I do both for the same book - I read the exposition and early parts of the narrative slowly, so as to get to know the characters and important background information, and then shift into a faster gear when the narrative starts to move faster and I urgently want to see how it ends.I wonder if this will become one of those books?

25 May 2013

Reading journal for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, part 2

Remember the scene where Gilbert tries to give Helen the book?  Love it. It's so lovely, with the lovesick swain trying to win his lady's favour with a gift, and his mortification when she insists on paying him for it. I think it may also be a pivot point, the place where she begins to regard him in the light of more than a friend, even though she acts as if friendship is the only way for them:
     But, while I gazed, I thought upon the book, and wondered how it was to be presented.  My heart failed me; but I determined not to be such a fool as to come away without having made the attempt.  It was useless waiting for an opportunity, and useless trying to concoct a speech for the occasion.  The more plainly and naturally the thing was done, the better, I thought; so I just looked out of the window to screw up my courage, and then pulled out the book, turned round, and put it into her hand, with this short explanation:
     ‘You were wishing to see ‘Marmion,’ Mrs. Graham; and here it is, if you will be so kind as to take it.’
     A momentary blush suffused her face—perhaps, a blush of sympathetic shame for such an awkward style of presentation: she gravely examined the volume on both sides; then silently turned over the leaves, knitting her brows the while, in serious cogitation; then closed the book, and turning from it to me, quietly asked the price of it—I felt the hot blood rush to my face.
     ‘I’m sorry to offend you, Mr. Markham,’ said she, ‘but unless I pay for the book, I cannot take it.’  And she laid it on the table.
     ‘Why cannot you?’
     ‘Because,’—she paused, and looked at the carpet.
     ‘Why cannot you?’ I repeated, with a degree of irascibility that roused her to lift her eyes and look me steadily in the face.
     ‘Because I don’t like to put myself under obligations that I can never repay—I am obliged to you already for your kindness to my son; but his grateful affection and your own good feelings must reward you for that.’
     ‘Nonsense!’ ejaculated I.
     She turned her eyes on me again, with a look of quiet, grave surprise, that had the effect of a rebuke, whether intended for such or not.
     ‘Then you won’t take the book?’ I asked, more mildly than I had yet spoken.
      ‘I will gladly take it, if you will let me pay for it.’  I told her the exact price, and the cost of the carriage besides, in as calm a tone as I could command—for, in fact, I was ready to weep with disappointment and vexation.
     She produced her purse, and coolly counted out the money, but hesitated to put it into my hand.  Attentively regarding me, in a tone of soothing softness, she observed,—‘You think yourself insulted, Mr Markham—I wish I could make you understand that—that I—’
     ‘I do understand you, perfectly,’ I said.  ‘You think that if you were to accept that trifle from me now, I should presume upon it hereafter; but you are mistaken:—if you will only oblige me by taking it, believe me, I shall build no hopes upon it, and consider this no precedent for future favours:—and it is nonsense to talk about putting yourself under obligations to me when you must know that in such a case the obligation is entirely on my side,—the favour on yours.’
     ‘Well, then, I’ll take you at your word,’ she answered, with a most angelic smile, returning the odious money to her purse—‘but remember!’
     ‘I will remember—what I have said;—but do not you punish my presumption by withdrawing your friendship entirely from me,—or expect me to atone for it by being more distant than before,’ said I, extending my hand to take leave, for I was too much excited to remain.
     ‘Well, then! let us be as we were,’ replied she, frankly placing her hand in mine; and while I held it there, I had much difficulty to refrain from pressing it to my lips;—but that would be suicidal madness: I had been bold enough already, and this premature offering had well-nigh given the death-blow to my hopes.
     It was with an agitated, burning heart and brain that I hurried homewards, regardless of that scorching noonday sun—forgetful of everything but her I had just left—regretting nothing but her impenetrability, and my own precipitancy and want of tact—fearing nothing but her hateful resolution, and my inability to overcome it—hoping nothing—but halt,—I will not bore you with my conflicting hopes and fears—my serious cogitations and resolves.

24 May 2013

Friday book lists # 6: Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

Here is a special one for the books-in-books registry: A book in which all the books and other published materials mentioned are imaginary, because the book itself takes place in an imaginary world.

Oi! To his Deaf Mistress, by Robert Scandal

The Times (newspaper)
Bu-Bubble (fashion magazine)
Satblatt (dwarf newspaper)
Bows & Ammo
The Inquirer
The Tanty Bugle
Back Street Pins
Stanley Howler's Stamp Monthly
Giggles, Girls and Garters
Golem Spotter Weekly
Fretwork Today

A couple of doubly imaginary ones, i.e. titles mentioned that may only exist in L-space as observed from the Discworld:
Pride & Buns
Great Spoons of the World

Non-fiction and reference:
Compendium of Odours by Brakefast (in 22 volumes)
Trumpet of Equestrianism by Sprout
The Speech of Trolls by Postalume
Five Hours and Sixteen Minutes Among the Goblins of Far Uberwald by J.P. Bunderbell
Discomforting Misusage by Birdcatcher
Die Wesentlichen Ungewisseiten Zugehörig der Offenkundingen Männlichkeit by Ofleberger
The Tau of Cabbage
The Obedience of Disobedience by Schnouzentintle
The Effluence of Reality by Von Sliss
Das Meer von Unvermeidlichkeit by Doctor Maspinder
The Doors of Deception
Boddry's Occult Companion
Fletcher's Avian Nausea Index 
In Search of the Whole by Trousenblert (trans. W.E.G. Goodnight)
Ritual Aggression in Pubescent Rats by Dr Vonmausberger

Fiction (I think):
Mr Cauliflower's Big Adventure (presumably a children's novel, but with Pratchett, you never know)
Starcrossed by Hwel the Playwright (a play)

Booking through Thursday (a day late): Reading habits

Today's question on Booking Through Thursday is about changing reading habits:

Have your reading habits changed since you were a child? (I mean, I’m assuming you have less time to read now, but …) Did you devour and absorb books when you were 10 and only just lightly read them now? Did you re-read frequently as a child but now only read new books? How about types of books? Do you find yourself still attracted to the kinds of books you read when you were a kid?

My reading habits haven't really changed that much, except I am possibly more choosy about the books I read, and I read more. As a kid, I would devour any and all books that came my way, regardless of the quality. Quantity was the main thing. These days I think more about what I am reading and not just any book will do, but since I also read faster, I go through more books.

Back then, I would become so absolutely absorbed in what I was reading that I would forget about hunger, pain and discomfort and not be aware at all of what was going on around me. Proof in point: I got to spend a month with my grandmother one summer when I was around twelve, and she took me to a specialist to have my hearing tested because if I was reading, I didn't just not answer her when called, but actually didn't hear her. This is no longer the case, except when I am reading, the low but persistent traffic noise I live with 24/7 fades away into nothing and if the book is very absorbing, I may experience the weather, sounds, smells and colours inside the book rather than what is around be. However, it now takes a very special book to create this kind of experience for me, whereas before, I completely walked into any story I was reading.

I didn't learn to read my first year in elementary school - not because I couldn't grasp it, but because it was boring. My mother taught me to read in less than a month during the following summer by using a different method and by interesting me in books with real stories in them. As it happens, those were detective stories and adventure tales (mostly Enid Blyton and Dr. Dolittle) and folk tales, three genres that have followed me through life as firm favourites.To these I added travelogues when I was a teenager, and popular science books and romances as an adult, and my interest in folk tales and mythology evolved into an interest in fantasy.

These days, I reread less than I used to, but every now and then I pick up an old favourite and settle down to read it with a fond smile on my face. How about you?

23 May 2013

Reading journal, entry no. 1, for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – full of potential spoilers so beware. May also contain bad grammar and egregious typing errors because I want to get back to the book and read more.

I‘m reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë and really feel I need to write something about it at this point. For those who have read it, I am at the point where Gilbert‘s narrative has ended and Helen‘s narrative has just started. I deliberately didn't read about the story before I started reading it and just about the only thing I knew about it before commencing is that it's probably a romance.

Such a storm of emotions already, falling occasionally over the verge into highly enjoyable melodrama: Gilbert falling violently in love with Helen (quite believably, I think, people being prone to fall for those they see as unavailable), H repelling him but eventually showing signs of loving him back (not quite as realistic as his feelings for her as it isn't explained why she would love him), and G assaulting the man he believes H is having an affair with, possibly in the belief that the victim has seduced her and is using her, or possibly because G is, when it comes down to it, a jealous boor with an anger-management problem. So far this looks like the beginning of a juicy big mis plot. Add to this that once G and H have a chance to clear everything up, they skirt the issue so adroitly that I'm sure this is going to be one whopper of a big mis.

I mean, really: what rational man attacks another over a suspicion and a slightly jeering comment? Ok, a lot of men probably would, but G has represented himself as quite sane, civilised and stable up to that point and then he suddenly lashes out? Not quite believable in my opinion, unless he has problems with anger management or a mental problem. However, this being melodrama and (I think) romance, he's probably just supposed to be violently jealous to the point of irrationality). Going back to check on his victim and actually worrying for his own safety should the victim press charges (or whatever they called it back in Victorian times) is, however, a nice touch and establishes him as a somewhat caring and realistic person, even if somewhat lacking in empathy for others as he makes little of the other man's injuries afterwards. This makes it practically certain that he is meant to be a sympathetic hero.

I can‘t really comment on Helen yet, as I have only seen her from Gilbert‘s perspective, but I am looking forward to seeing her from the inside. From G's perspective she seems like someone who has had a hard time prior to the beginning of the narrative and to be trying to make the best of things and avoid complications which, however, G and the maliciously gossiping neighbours are making it hard for her to do. She also clearly has a secret, and what little I have read of her narrative so far and between the lines in G's narrative, it seems connected to a man.

Is she an unwed mother, (that most dreadful and pitiable of creatures in those times), a widow with a bad marriage and bad debts behind her, or an abused wife or mistress on the run? Whatever it is, it must be connected with alcohol abuse, as she seems to have succeeded in purposely making her son quite disgusted by wine.

I just hope this doesn't turn into a horrid bleak read like sister Emily's famous novel. Come on, Anne, I need this to have a happy ending so I can use it as a springboard for rereading Wuthering Heights.

Gosh, I'd forgotten how much I used to love Victorian novels!

17 May 2013

Friday book list # 5: Narrow Dog to Carcasonne by Terry Darlington

Books mentioned in Narrow Dog to Carcasonne by Terry Darlington.
This book actually has a list of references at the back, which was a tremendous help to me because I clean forgot to start jotting things down until I was on chapter ten. This list, however, is not copied straight from that list, as some of the references are not to titles but rather quotations or allusions, and I did find one or two titles that were mentioned in the text but not in the list of references. And of course the fictional books are not included in the list.

As before I have only included anything when an actual title was mentioned. For many of the poems they are not given in the main text of the book but only in the reference list.


The Guardian
Guide Navicarte (probably a partial title)

Le Monde 
Le Sénonais libéré

Whippet Breed  Standard by the Kennel Club


Le Charretier de la Providence (by Georges Simenon). The link goes to my review of this book.
Jack the Disemboweller - this is a funny back-translation of the title of Patricia Cornwell's book Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper—Case Closed
The Volcano Lover by Susan Sontag (Mentioned in a fake interview at the end, which I think must have been added in the paperback edition)
The War of the Worlds (by H.G. Wells, although he reference might just as well have been to one of the movies)

Poems: (links to both French originals and English translations, and author links to Wikipedia articles)
The Drunken Boat (Le Bateau Ivre) by Arthur Rimbaud
The Albatross (L'Albatros) by Charles Baudelaire
A Prayer to Go to Heaven with the Donkeys (Prière pour aller au paradis avec les ânes) by Francis Jammes
Cemetery by the Sea (Le Cimetière Marin) by Paul Valéry. This link goes to a side-by-side of the French original and an English translation.

Short story:
The Birds (by Daphne du Maurier). I did find the full story on the Web, but as I think it's still under copyright I decided not to link to it. The Wikipedia link has a summary for those who wish to know what it's about.

The Oxford History of England
The Book of Common Prayer

Fictional titles:
Your Dog Will Get You in the End. I quite like to read this one, having known one or two dogs so inclined.
How to Stop Your Dog Behaving Like a Bloody Animal.
Boating for Fun magazine. I could find no such publication, so I'm putting it on the fictional list.

Probably fictional, possibly not:

Your Dog is Watching You. There is an actual book by that title, written by one Jim Heath, but considering Darlington's the sense of humour he might just as well have invented this title. I am inclined to believe the latter, because that book and this were published in the same year.

10 May 2013

Friday book list # 4: Gaudy Night, by Dorothy L. Sayers

(?) after the title means I'm not sure if it's a real publication/book.

Literature mentioned in Gaudy Night, by Dorothy L. Sayers.

There were so many authors mentioned in this book that I didn't jot them down and have only included actual titles. I listened to an audio version of the book and the titles were gleaned after the fact from my print copy by scanning for italicised phrases. Therefore I may have missed some and this is by no means a definitive list.

The Aeneid (by Virgil)
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Anatomy of Melancholy (by Robert Burton
The Bible
Brave New World (by Aldous Huxley)
"A Chaucer Folio"
"Kai Lung" (by Ernest Bramah) - no particular title is mentioned
"Three Kelmscott Morrises"
The Man of Property (volume 1 of The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy)
Religio Medici (The Religion of a Doctor) by Sir Thomas Browne
 The Search by C.P. Snow
 "A Shakespeare First Quarto"

The Times
The Telegraph
The Daily Trumpet (?)
The Daily Headline (?)
The Morning Star
Flashlight (?)

There were so many imaginary books mentioned that I couldn't help including them. 
I owe my thanks to The Invisible Library for most of this list:

By Harriet Vane: 
Death 'twixt Wind and Water (work in progress)

Sands of Crime
A Study of Sheridan Le Fanu (proposed work)

By others:

Ariadne Adams by unknown
Dusk and Shiver by unknown
Modern Verse-Forms by Mr. Elkbottom (this was not in in the Invisible Library list, but I couldn‘t find any proof of its existence, so on the list it went)
Gas-Filled Bulbs by Jacqueline Squills
History of Prosody by Mrs. Lydgate (work in progress)
Jocund Day by unknown
Mock-Turtle by Tasker Hepplewater
Passion-Flower Pie by Mrs. Snell-Wilmington
The Position of Women in the Modern State by Mrs. Barton
Primrose Dalliance by unknown
Serpent's Fang by unknown
The Squeezed Lemon by unknown

07 May 2013

Top Ten Tuesdays: Top Ten Books When You Need Something Light & Fun

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme run by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we post the top 10 books we go to when we need something light and fun. My list is below, and you can find more here.

I like visual humour, so it is really no surprise that more than half my choices are picture books of some kind. The rest are reliable light and humorous novels. In no particular order:

  • Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie. He's 30. She's 40. She has a funny dog. It's a match made in heaven.
  • Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett. Golden age Hollywood in a fantasy setting with horrible monsters from another dimension, blazing egos and talking dogs? Yes please.
  • Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. English humour at its finest.
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. Takes me back to what it was like being six years old.
  • The Hitch-hiker‘s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. A classic.
  • One of my Lucky Luke comic books.
  • One of my Calvin & Hobbes collections.
  • One of my Mad Magazine books (e.g. spy vs. spy or Sergio Aragones).
  • Angels on Horseback by Norman Thelwell (or A Leg at Each Corner or Thelwell's Riding Academy). There is endless fun to be had out of little girls on horseback, and Thelwell explored the subject thoroughly.
  • The Terror of St Trinian's by Ronald Searle (this is borderline, as some of the drawings are quite brutal and most of them have dark undercurrents. For the same reason I didn‘t mention the work of Edward Gorey, as it is anything but light even if it is funny as hell).

03 May 2013

Friday book list # 3: Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers

(?) after a title means I'm not sure its a real book/publication.

Literature mentioned in Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers.

The Morning Star and The Evening Banner (?). I know the Star exists, but am not sure about the Banner. It may have at the time of publication (1933).

Non-fiction and reference:
The Directory of Directors
Bartlett's Familiar Quotations
The Globe edition of the Works of William Shakespeare
The Children's Encyclopaedia
The Times Atlas
Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (as Brewer)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (mentioned as Alice in Wonderland) (by Lewis Carroll)

In addition, P.G. Wodehouse and Edgar Wallace are mentioned, but none of their books.

02 May 2013

Reading report for April 2013

I read 20 books in April, all but one of which I started and ended within the month. The exception was Tim Moore‘s Nul Points, which I was reading last year but set aside as I found it somewhat bleak. I picked it up again and finally finished it, discovering that either I wasn‘t in the right mood when I first began reading it, or the last three chapters were more upbeat than the previous ones. I even got some laughs out of it. It's not as good as some of his other efforts, but as always very informative. This time around he was digging into the history of the Eurovision Song contest and going around interviewing the people who came last in the contest with zero points.

Of the 20 books, 8 were TBR books, which puts me at 31 TBR books read this year, which is not bad at all. It looks like I may reach the goal of 50 before the end of the summer, and since I am currently reading more of them than I am buying, the purpose of the TBR challenge has been achieved.

I have been spring cleaning and rearranging my living room and got a number of unabridged audio editions of Dorothy L. Sayers‘ Lord Peter Wimsey novels to listen to, since it's impossible to read while dragging around furniture and mopping floors. Three of those were re“reads“ (Whose Body?, Strong Poison and Have his Carcase) and the remaining two were new to me. All were read by actor Ian Carmichael, who did it very well. I am now considering buying (if they are available) the DVDs of the TV series in which he starred as Lord Peter.

The month‘s stand-outs were Can Any Mother Help Me? and Let's Not Go to the Dogs Tonight. The former gives an insight in the the lives of British women in the 20th century, and the latter a by turns horrific and fascinating look at the lives of a family of white farmers in Africa during the 1970s and 80s in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. I also enjoyed The Fantastic Art of Boris Vallejo, although I wish they had included more of his fantastic romance novel covers in the collection.

As a modern retelling of a beloved Jane Austen novel, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star was a nice effort, but would have been better if there had been less sex in it. I know there is supposed to be lots of sex in rock star romances, but it's not good when the sex begins to take away from the romance.

The Books:
Jenna Bailey: Can Any Mother Help Me?. Women‘s history.
Alexandra Fuller: Let's Not Go to the Dogs Tonight. Memoir.
Paul Gallico: Mrs. Harris Goes to Moscow. Humorous novel.
Rachel Gibson: I'm in No Mood for Love, Crazy on You and Rescue Me. Romance, contemporary.
Chris Mattison: Snake. Ophiology.
Tim Moore: Nul Points. Music history.
Heather Lynn Rigaud: Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star. Romance, contemporary; Pride and Prejudice retelling (and bonkfest)
Nora Roberts: The Next Always, The Last Boyfriend and The Perfect Hope . Romance, contemporary.
Dorothy L. Sayers: Strong Poison, Whose Body? and Have His Carcase . Murder mysteries. Rereads.
Dorothy L. Sayers :Unnatural Death and Murder Must Advertise . Murder mysteries.
Arthur Upfield: Wings Above the Diamantina. Mystery.
Boris Vallejo & Lester del Rey: The Fantastic Art of Boris Vallejo. Art. Book covers.
Patricia Wentworth: The Watersplash. Murder mystery.