Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Catching up on my reading

I have not posted about books in a long while. My reading has been sporadic so far this year and I go through periods of feeling overwhelmed by how many books I want to read. I have hope, though, that I will add more reading to my nightly routine in our new flat, as it is without a television. (It will be my first time ever without a tv, although I have lived with one so small and with so few channels it hardly counts!) So, perhaps in the near future I 'll be blogging more and more about the books I have enjoyed.

Here is a little post about a few that have recently kept me company. As I have said before, several times before actually, I dislike writing book reviews. I find it a boring task and I am pretty lousy at it. I usually say too much about a book, ruining it for potential readers, or I say too little and my review is cryptic and frustrating. So, I have resolved not to review books at all. Instead, each title is a link to a Goodreads page, where the books are summarized and reviewed by people who know what they are doing (for the most part). Follow those links if you want to know more about the books below apart from the little bits shared by me.

Books I read a while back: 
I found In the Suicide Mountains at The Last Bookstore before they moved to their new location in LA. They were selling books at lowered prices to have less to pack up, and I nabbed a bunch of folktales and mixed mythologies. I was expecting this book to be like the others, short stories and tales, but it was a novel. A short novel.... actually, it is somewhere between a novel and a YA chapter book. Regardless, it was a strange and charming story that I am happy to have found. I am surprised actually, that I didn't come across it as a young reader- it has a sensibility to it that was very popular in the age and area in which I was raised. I can't properly describe what I mean, but I can see this book having a fan following, full of the same folks who love the movie, The Last Unicorn. 

The Children's Book is a hearty meal of a book. It is long, wordy and follows a group of writers, artists, politicians, and other VIP in Europe (mostly England) from the 1890s to about 1920. Some times, I couldn't help but feel totally ignorant while reading this book- Byatt mentions several people,places and events as if they are common knowledge. I am sure some of them are, and I just don't have a clue about them, but I'm equally sure she throws in some obscurities for good measure. And even though at times I felt like I just had to get through certain passages, there were moments of magic- the German puppeteers, the parties at Todefright, the opening night of Peter Pan in London... It's the kind of book you can hold in your hand, glance at the back cover  (and the page length) and determine on the spot if its something you want to undertake.

On the other hand,  Fearless Girl, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World is a book for everyone. Truly. I couldn't see one person not enjoying this collection. It is a book of stories that feature women in non-traditional roles (i.e.: not the damsel in distress or the princess looking to get married). These are not stories written simply to counter-balance the norm, these are the stories that have been told along side the ones we are so much more familiar with. They are old stories, from all different cultures, that have not enjoyed the same kind of popularity as has Cinderella et al. Its well written, well explained and entertaining. 

Just finished: 
The Meaning of Night took me 4 months to read. Not that it was a slow story, or that it was particularly long, I was just only getting through one page at time during the months leading up to our move. I enjoyed the story, but more than that, I liked the Victorian writing style. Author Michael Cox is a scholar and a bibliophile, much like his main character, and that clearly comes out in his writing. He must have spent ages researching the specific books that appear in this one. The story starts with an incredible opening sentence. It doesn't always live up to the excitement of a "thriller", as there are sections that lag, but it is written as a confession, one that leaves behind no detail, big or small!  The Glass of Time is a continuation of The Meaning of Night.  It has a few more twists and turns than the first, but they are pretty easy to predict. The main fun is seeing how the other character's find out each other's secrets. Fans of Victorian writers, especially mysteries or thrillers, a la Lady Audley's Secret, would probably fancy these two tomes.

Currently reading:
I am only about 50 pages in to Neil Gailman's American Gods and there has already been a leprechaun bar fight and a death by vagina... so, I'm pretty much hooked... 

Next on my reading list:


Anyone read either of these? They continue to be recommended to me by my avid reader friends, so I think I'll have to finally go get copies for myself!


  1. Yay, The Night Circus - one of my very favorites!! I am definitely going to order Fearless Girls... for the library (thanks for the recommendation!) and American Gods is high on my list, I just haven't gotten to it yet. So many good books, so little time!

    1. So true! Even if I read as much as I'd like to, there still wouldn't be enough time to get through my book list!

  2. I just discovered your blog and I love it! I'm a fellow Californian living in the UK, and I look forward to reading more of your posts (and some of your book recommendations, too!).

    1. Hi Julie- Glad you enjoy D&HT! Always cool to run into another expat, even if it is on the web!

  3. I am always looking for books to add to my list! Great blog! I think we are inspired by similar things. Katie :) x


    1. Thanks Katie. I checked out your blog as well, it's great!