01 January 2014

Reading Report for December 2013

I finished 18 books in December. Of those, 5 were rereads and the rest were the usual mixed bag: some romances, a literary novel, a book of heraldry, photograph books, and folk tales old and new.

Five books had a Christmas theme and I am rather sorry I read two of them. I should have followed my instincts and stopped reading them when it became evident that I was in for unrelenting tweeness.

Some years ago I read an enjoyable Christmas novella by Debbie Macomber. It had just the right amount of sentimentality one expects from a good Christmas story, without being actually saccharine. Then I discovered that the lead characters in that story, the angels Shirley, Goodness and Mercy, were featured in full-length books. I got hold of two of those books and read both this December and I can safely say that I have had enough of Shirley, Goodness and Mercy. The stories were pure glurge: hyper-sentimental, saccharine tear-jerkers.

A third Christmas book was a volume of two novellas of the paranormal genre, both of which feature vampires and humans falling in love. They were nothing extraordinary, except the purpleness of the prose in one of them made me giggle a couple of times (I may post about that later).

The standouts, apart from Dickens‘ Christmas Carol, which doesn’t count because it’s a reread, were Vestal Fire, Reimleikar í Reykjavík, and the two photography books, The Book of London and North Dakota 24/7.

Vestal Fire is a juicy tale of scandal within a community of expats on a romantic Italian island in the years immediately before, during and immediately after World War One. It is full of wonderfully drawn eccentric characters and nuanced descriptions of a tight-knit community that begins to unravel when a stranger lands in their midst and becomes an apple of discord.

Reimleikar í Reykjavík is a collection of ghost stories from my home city, Reykjavík, set down by an accomplished writer who knows how to turn up the chill factor. It is available in English.

Both photography books are fascinating records of a particular place at a particular time. The Book of London is full of charming, mostly black-and white, photographs of London life and landmarks in the late 1960s, for the most part by one photographer, while North Dakota 24/7 is a portrait of a week in that US state in the mid-2000s, recorded with digital photographs by many, many photographers, both amateurs and professionals.

I am writing down some thoughts about the past year in reading and my plans for the new year, and if I have time and inclination I may post some statistics, although they will not be as detailed as they have sometimes been. It has, however, come to my attention that I now have reading journal entries covering a whole decade. I might do something with that, maybe take a look at how my reading has developed genre-wise and see how many books and pages I have finished in that time.

The Books:
  • Rosemary A. Chorzempa: Design Your Own Coat of Arms: An Introduction to Heraldry. Heraldry.
  • Jennifer Crusie : Faking It. Romance. Reread.
  • Jennifer Crusie; Anne Stuart; Lani Diane Rich: Dogs and Goddesses. Romance. Reread.
  • Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol. Christmas story. Reread.
  • Georgette Heyer: The Quiet Gentleman. Historical romance. Reread.
  • Compton Mackenzie: Vestal Fire. Novel.
  • Debbie Macomber: A Season of Angels and Touched by Angels . Inspirational Christmas romances.
  • Maureen Child; Caridad Piñero: Holiday with a Vampire. Two paranormal Christmas romance novellas: Christmas Cravings (Child); Fate Calls (Piñero).
  • Iain Mcmillan (photos); Roger Baker (text): The Book of London. Photograph book.
  • Jeanette Murray: No Mistletoe Required. Christmas romance, novella.
  • Morag Neil: Curious Cats. Picture book.
  • Ólafur Davíðsson: Íslenzkar þjóðsögur III. Folk tales.
  • Terry Pratchett: Moving Pictures. Fantasy. Reread.
  • Nora Roberts: Hidden Star and Captive Star. Romantic suspense.
  • Steinar Bragi: Reimleikar í Reykjavík. Ghost stories.
  • Various: North Dakota 24/7. Photograph book.



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