Friday, December 21, 2012

Reading Part 2

Born to Run, Christopher McDougall
I read this while I was learning to run last year, before I wimped out because that pesky plantar fasciitis turned my heels into spurs of fire. Unfortunately the man it is about has died (while out on a run) since I read it.

You and I know how good running feels because we’ve made a habit of it. But lose the habit, and the loudest voice in your ear is your ancient survival instinct urging you to relax.
Silver: Return to Treasure Island, Andrew Motion
A follow-up to Treasure Island starring Jim Hawkins' daughter. Not bad. My favourite line:
I found a low-ceilinged, smoke-filled den where everything was brown as a kipper: chairs, tables, floorboards, hands and faces.
The Stranger in the Mirror, Jane Shilling
This is a book about realising that you are middle-aged. Did I tell you that I turned 50 this year? Traumatic doesn't cover it.
Unlike successful pregnancies which, in their neatly contained drama of three trimesters, essentially resemble one another, the narratives of menopause are diffuse and hard to categorise. Each middle-aged woman is menopausal in her own way.
The Professor and Other Writings, Terry Castle
I loved this book. The essays are full of quotable lines but I'll limit myself to these two on this somewhat familiar realisation:
I am chastened, subdued. Despite fifty years of walking and talking on my own, I realize I’m already starting to devolve, to morph back, as if inexorably, into that hungry, unkempt, much-loathed thing: My Mother’s Daughter.
And during a shopping trip to museum shops in Santa Fe with the aforementioned mother, the realisation that they share: 
the lower-middle-class family mania—seemingly inbred in both of us—for talking endlessly and anxiously about what things are “nice” or “not nice.
The Missing Shade Of Blue, Jennie Erdal
A friend recommended this book, and it turns out that he has a cameo part in it. It's another one set in Edinburgh and the story intertwines the themes of translation, Scottish academia, David Hume, buddhism and failing relationships. What's not to like?

Sightlines, Kathleen Jamie
This is a book about nature and landscapes. It is wonderful.
For days after I felt different, looser of limb, thrilled because the world had thrown me a gift and said, ‘Catch!
The Lost Child, an Mother's Story
Julie Myerson. A real Guardian reader's book. You may remember hearing about the middle-class parents who threw their 17-year-old son out of the house because of his unacceptable behaviour (and all the while his mum was writing a book about it).  I don't think I've ever read anything else that made me think "this is only one half of the story" more often. There's a historical side story too but it's skippable.

Almost French: Love and a New Life in ParisSarah Turnbull. 
I'm a sucker for all of these "new life in France" books and this one is better than most.

Working the Room, Geoff Dyer
Geoff Dyer can do no wrong, this is a fabulous book of essays (although he is a bit boasty about his beautiful wife.)

The Out of Office Girl, Nicola Doherty. 
Not being young, to put it bluntly, I'm pretty sure that I am not part of the target demographic for this novel, but I enjoyed it all the same. Who wouldn't  enjoy a good love story set in Italy? (Thank you Nicola for sending it to me and by the way, I think it would make a great film.)

On Writing, Stephen King. 
Really more about Stephen King and his modest beginnings than writing, and all the more enjoyable for it.

How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing, Paul J. Silvia. 
I can sum this book up in one sentence for you and save you the money: write for two solid hours every single day.

Treasure Island!!!, Sara Levine. 
This is a first novel about a young woman who becomes obsessed with the Treasure Island, notably adopting a parrot. She is very difficult to like but there are some very funny passages. 

La cit√© des jarres, Arnaldur Indridason. 
P. is a big fan of Icelandic crime fiction. Me not so much.

Imperial Bedrooms, Bret Easton Ellis. 
Unpleasant people in unpleasant surroundings.

To be continued.


materfamilias said...

This is fun! Looking forward to more, recognizing a few I enjoyed as well, noting some I liked that you didn't so much (Jack Reacher -- and can you believe Tom Cruise in that role?). Your succinct takes on these are hilarious!
And I'm taking notes of a few I should add to my ToBeRead list, 'cause, you know, that's not very long. . .

Lesley said...

@materfamilias Yes, Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher will take some suspension of disbelief! My one-line dismissals are the opposite of your thoughtful and much longer appraisals, and very often I don't do the book justice, I know.