Skip to main content

Reading report for May 2013

I finished 11 books in May, 6 of them rereads. Two others I had started reading some months previously but then stalled. It was nice to reduce my stack of partially read books, even if just a little. Another 2 were audio books, both Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, one a re"read" and the other a first time "read". I generally prefer to read books rather than listen to them the first time I encounter them, as I feel that I absorb them better off the page, but with all the audio books I have listened to in the past 2 months I feel I am regaining my ability, acquired during my childhood and teens when I listened avidly to plays and book readings on the radio, to perfectly follow and enjoy books aurally.

The relatively low number of books read, as well as both the rereading and the audio books, may be "blamed" on other activities: I have been quite busy with some of my other hobbies, especially painting and sewing, and with tidying up and attempting to de-clutter my apartment. When this is the case, I prefer to read books I know well and can put down at a moment‘s notice without losing the enjoyment of their reading, or to listen to audio books while I attend to things like tidying or simple painting that do not require much concentration.

This month's stand-out among my first-time reads was Narrow Dog to Carcasonne by Terry Darlington. At first I found his style a bit unusual and slightly difficult, but I got used to it and highly enjoyed reading about the Darlingtons' adventures in their canal-boat. I also enjoyed Climbing the Mango Trees, part one of TV cook, cookbook author and actress Madhur Jaffrey‘s autobiography. As for the rest, see the notes after the titles in the list.

All the rereads are among my perennial comfort reads, but I must especially mention Le Nid des Marsupilamis (The Marsupilamis' Nest), which never fails to enchant me. This mocumentary piece of natural history was published in Icelandic (as Gormahreiðrið) when I was 10, and I was lucky enough to receive a copy which has held up remarkably well considering I and others have probably read it hundreds of times. I would quite like to get my hands on a copy in the original French, as I really need to practice reading in that language.

The Books:
  • Benjamin Daniels: Confessions of a GP. Memoir. Reads like a blog brought to book form, with each chapter a complete unit in itself. This is not necessarily bad, but does make it a bit disjointed.
  • Terry Darlington: Narrow Dog to Carcasonne. Travelogue.
  • Franquin: Le Nid des Marsupilamis. Comic book. Reread.
  • Stella Gibbons: Cold Comfort Farm. Comic novel. Reread.
  • Goscinny & Tabarry: Le Tapis Magique. Comic book. Reread.
  • Madhur Jaffrey: Climbing the Mango Trees. Autobiography.
  • Terry Pratchett: Unseen Academicals. Fantasy. Reread.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers: Gaudy Night. Murder mystery, romantic. Reread. Audio book.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers: Busman's Honeymoon. Murder mystery, romantic. Audio book. I didn't care much for the mystery in this one, but enjoyed reading about the further development of Harriet and Peter's relationship.
  • Sir Walter Scott: The Talisman. Historical novel. Reread.
  • Peter Stanford: The Devil: A Biography. History. An informative and sometimes terrifying journey through the history of Old Nick.


Popular posts from this blog

Book 40: The Martian by Andy Weir, audiobook read by Wil Wheaton

Note : This will be a general scattershot discussion about my thoughts on the book and the movie, and not a cohesive review. When movies are based on books I am interested in reading but haven't yet read, I generally wait to read the book until I have seen the movie, but when a movie is made based on a book I have already read, I try to abstain from rereading the book until I have seen the movie. The reason is simple: I am one of those people who can be reduced to near-incoherent rage when a movie severely alters the perfectly good story line of a beloved book, changes the ending beyond recognition or adds unnecessarily to the story ( The Hobbit , anyone?) without any apparent reason. I don't mind omissions of unnecessary parts so much (I did not, for example, become enraged to find Tom Bombadil missing from The Lord of the Rings ), because one expects that - movies based on books would be TV-series long if they tried to include everything, so the material must be pared down

List love: 10 recommended stories with cross-dressing characters

This trope is almost as old as literature, what with Achilles, Hercules and Athena all cross-dressing in the Greek myths, Thor and Odin disguising themselves as women in the Norse myths, and Arjuna doing the same in the Mahabaratha. In modern times it is most common in romance novels, especially historicals in which a heroine often spends part of the book disguised as a boy, the hero sometimes falling for her while thinking she is a boy. Occasionally a hero will cross-dress, using a female disguise to avoid recognition or to gain access to someplace where he would never be able to go as a man. However, the trope isn’t just found in romances, as may be seen in the list below, in which I recommend stories with a variety of cross-dressing characters. Unfortunately I was only able to dredge up from the depths of my memory two book-length stories I had read in which men cross-dress, so this is mostly a list of women dressed as men. Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb. One of the interwove

First book of 2020: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach (reading notes)

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I loathe movie tie-in book covers because I feel they are (often) trying to tell me how I should see the characters in the book. The edition of Deborah Moggach's These Foolish Things that I read takes it one step further and changes the title of the book into the title of the film version as well as having photos of the ensemble cast on the cover. Fortunately it has been a long while since I watched the movie, so I couldn't even remember who played whom in the film, and I think it's perfectly understandable to try to cash in on the movie's success by rebranding the book. Even with a few years between watching the film and reading the book, I could see that the story had been altered, e.g. by having the Marigold Hotel's owner/manager be single and having a romance, instead being of unhappily married to an (understandably, I thought) shrewish wife. It also conflates Sonny, the wheeler dealer behind the retireme