Wednesday, 15 August 2012

What I've been reading...

I've read some lovely things recently. Before I went off to my week's teaching for Arvon, I spent a weekend reading Ngaio Marsh, Alan Garner and Paula Danziger in the Beach House, lying on the bed settee with Fester asleep on my chest. A curious mix of writers - and i knew that, in doing lots of travelling by train, I wanted to be reading an old favourite. I chose Jonathan Carroll's magnificent 'The Land of Laughs' - a dark phantasmagoria about a reclusive Maurice Sendak / Edward Gorey-type children's writer. I've read this book maybe ten times in the twenty years that I've owned it, and it's one that never dries up or ceases to reveal surprises.

I also read two books by Mitch Albom - his novel, 'The five people you meet in heaven' and 'Tuesdays with Morrie.' I think i had consciously avoided them in the past, since they had the look and feel of self-help books - multi-million selling sentimental stuff that I wasn't at all drawn to. However, somehow, I fell into reading both of these and loving them. 'Morrie' especially, is a terrific book about teaching and having a teacher, and then losing them.

What else..? Oh, in the Kindle summer sale I happened upon a novel I hadn't been aware of, 'The J.M Barrie's Ladies' Swimming Society' by Barbara Zitwer. It's light and romantic - and so perfect for reading during spare moments in a busy week teaching. It's also skilfully done, I think - though the Barrie connection isn't quite followed through enough. The lead female characters are well-drawn - and, inevitably, the reader can't help picturing them as Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Pauline Collins, Eileen Atkins, etc etc. I imagine all those ladies will have their agents ringing to ask how proficient they are in the water.

It's a charming book - though too short in the end - cutting to a finish just as the real tensions between characters are starting to show. The chiming-in with the (wonderful) 'Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel  Pie Society' feels just a mite cynically done, too.

So - next..? I'm rereading (yet again) Anne Tyler's 'Saint Maybe'. Then I'm onto Susannah Clapp's 'A Card for Angela Carter', which has just arrived as a present in the post. That's a book I've been very keen to get my hands on. And then I've got early copies of the new Carole Matthews and the new Jane Sanderson. And I've got Jenny Colgan's Doctor Who novel waiting, which i've been reading wonderful things about.

I hope you're all reading good stuff, too..?


  1. Paul! It is midnight Wisconsin time and its absurdly cold here. Not sure why you need to know that, but couldn't think of a better intro. With that out of the way, I'll move on.
    One. What did you think of Bridge to Terabithia?
    Second item, my Summer reading (if this can be called Summer, see above) included Conjugal Rites. Fantastic, of course. Your depiction of Hell was inspired. I'd rave further, but this comment box is much smaller on the inside...
    and I have to get to item Three: Delta and the Bannermen! Yes, some 9 months later I am bringing up the Doctor Who convo we had at Teslacon that you've long since forgotten - but there they are: Green Army Men. The straw that broke it all for me (for McCoy).
    ok, catharsis for me at least...
    Now, on to Hell's Belles.
    More Pending,

  2. Didn't i say about Terabithea? I loved that book. I saw the film first and then had to go back and find the novel. I think it's going to be a favourite.

    Poor Delta and the Bannermen!

    Glad you're enjoying Brenda and Effie!