Friday, December 21, 2012

What I've been reading

Picking up my reading list where I left off a year and a half ago.




Waiting for Sunrise, William Boyd
You always get good value for money from William Boyd: a good story and a new theme every time. I think I'd have got more out of this one if I'd known a bit more about the history of psychoanalysis.

The Lantern Bearers, Ronald Frame. 
This is a novel based around the essay of the same title by Robert Louis Stevenson.  I found it difficult to get into the skin of the teenage boy protagonist, but enjoyed the evocation of 1960s South-West Scotland. 

The Distant Echo, Val McDermid. 
I had never read anything by Val McDermid and this was a good introduction. Small town Scotland at its best and worst.

Lonely Planet By the Seat of My Pants (Anthology), Don George (ed)
Stories of travel mishaps; sometimes a bit like being submitted to someone's holiday slideshow with "witty" titles.

The Testament of Gideon Mack, James Robertson.

An ambitious and enjoyable book.
'But I do like Scotland. I like the miserable weather. I like the miserable people, the fatalism, the negativity, the violence that’s always just below the surface. And I like the way you deal with religion. One century you’re up to your lugs in it, the next you’re trading the whole apparatus in for Sunday superstores. Praise the Lord and thrash the bairns. Ask and ye shall have the door shut in your face. Blessed are they that shop on the Sabbath, for they shall get the best bargains. Oh, yes, this is a very fine country.’
La carte de Guido : Un pélerinage européen, Kenneth White. Essays of travel with companions living and literary. White gets less and less challenging as he gets older and that may be a good thing.

Starter for Ten, Dave Nicholls. Laugh out loud funny. I liked this passage:
Why is it that the posher people are, the colder their house? And it's not just the cold, it's the dirt too: the dog hair, the dusty books, the muddy boots, the fridges that reek of sour milk and putrescent cheese and decaying kitchen-garden vegetables.
The Confession, John Grisham. I'm not a big Grisham fan and this book-length plea against the death penalty didn't convert me (to Grisham, obviously, anti-death-penaltyism already had me).

Killing Floor and Worth Dying For,  Lee Child. Both Jack Reacher novels. By the time I got to the end of the second one I thought that Jack was just far too pleased with himself and his mad military skills.

Dragon Bones: Two Years Beneath the Skin of a Himalayan Kingdom, Murray Gunn. A badly written book about Bhutan and how being a house-husband in a foreign land can make you a little whiny.

One Day, David Nicholls. You've all read this one right? Mushy.

And the Land Lay Still, James Robertson. A fabulous book -  large cast of characters reflecting many facets of Scottish life (and nationalism) over the past fifty years or so.

At Home: A short history of private life, Bill Bryson. 
How does Bryson produce these encyclopaedic books? Does he have a bright idea for a framing concept then appoint an army of researchers who present him with amusing nuggets that he then weaves together? And why do I forget all of those fascinating facts as soon as I put the book down?

Mary Ann in Autumn, Armistead Maupin. 
I loved the Tales of the City novels when I first read them  - now the characters are much older, and so am I. Perhaps we're a little bored with each other.

To be continued ...

2 comments:

deborah said...

Everything except the dog hair! but if I did have a dog ...

Must come up with a paragraph for the non-U which starts off with overheated houses and finishes with, well, clean fridges and fresh vegetables!

This is my second laugh of the day, first was a card from a friend which said beneath picture of woman on her hands and knees cleaning 'Une maison propre est la preuve d'une vie gaspilléé'
She does actually look rather posh!

Lesley said...

@Deborah - ha! So we aspiring middle classes live in houses that are heated just right, and our fridges are neither mouldy nor sparkling.