11 October 2014

Reading report for September 2014

I went through reading slump in September. For me, this usually does not mean I read fewer books in a given month, but that I read a larger proportion of books I have read before. I finished a total of 16 books – which is actually above my monthly average – but 10 of them were re-reads (of which three were audio books I listened to for the first time). Out of the remaining six, two were books I had started reading long before and then put aside for some reason.

For more than half the month I kept picking up never-before read books, opening them, reading a chapter or two, losing interest and grabbing a familiar book to read instead.



This coincided with the beginning of my yearly struggle with the winter blues. As I have mentioned before, I suffer from depression. It is usually mild these days and comes in fairly predictable waves throughout the year, but the downswings are always deeper during the winter and the first signs are usually an increased need for sleep and everything around me starting to feel uninteresting. At such times I feel the need to surround myself with things that are cosy and familiar, including books I have enjoyed many times before. The key to fighting this is novelty, and reading new-to-me books is one of the way in which I find novelty.

The book that finally helped me break the re-reading pattern was Gene Simmons‘ autobiography, Kiss and Make-Up. I used to be a Kiss fan when I was a teenager, and I still enjoy listening to their music. Not that the book is terribly remarkable, except possibly in the fact that he (or his ghost-writer) mostly actually writes about himself and doesn't spend half the book recounting juicy gossip about others, which has been the case with a number of celebrity autobiographies I have read. It was interesting, however, and so I kept reading and read it pretty much in two long sessions.

There were two stand-outs. The first was Katie Hickman‘s Daughters of Britannia, which examined various aspects of the lives of the spouses of British diplomats (mostly women). It gives an insight into the world of diplomats that shows that it used to be hard work being married into the diplomatic corps and it isn‘t all glittering parties and fun, and indeed the parties are only glittering and fun if you are on the outside looking in at them. The other stand-out was, predictably, the Gary Larson collection The Far Side Gallery II.

The low point of the month was a Mills & Boon romance: In Love With the Man by Marjorie Lewty. It is one of those books one finds one day in one's book collection without having any recollection of ever having bought or otherwise acquired it. I don't have any particular gripe with Mills & Boon per se, but this was one of those "innocent young woman falls for experienced older man" stories with a side order of industrial espionage, exotic foreign location (Tokyo) and a spiteful competitor for the hero's affections. The heroine is a wide-eyed innocent and the hero's behaviour towards her borders on the creepy at times and falls under my definition of sexual harassment. I think I read it from cover to cover only because it was short and I was feeling too lazy to stand up and get another book.

The Books:
  • Mike Ashley, ed.:The Mammoth Book of Historical Detectives. Short detective stories, historical.
  • Jennifer Crusie:The Cinderella Deal. Romance. Reread.
  • Georgette Heyer:The Reluctant Widow and Masqueraders. Historical romance. Rereads.
  • Katie Hickman:Daughters of Britannia. History.
  • Gary Larson:The Far Side Gallery II. Humour, cartoons.
  • Marjorie Lewty:In Love With the Man. Romance. Reread.
  • Ólafur Davíðsson:Ég læt allt fjúka. Collected letters and diary.
  • Terry Pratchett:Truckers, Diggers, Wings. Children’s fantasy. Reread. Audio books, read by Tony Robinson.
  • J.D. Robb:Naked in Death. Futuristic police procedural. Reread.
  • Oliver Sacks:The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Neurology. Reread.
  • DorothyL. Sayers:Strong Poison. Mystery.
  • Gene Simmons:Kiss and Make-Up. Autobiography.
  • Winifred Watson:Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Novel, humorous. Reread.



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