Thursday, 2 October 2014
Reading round-up: September
85. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell - 5/10. Read my full review / Buy the ebook
86. Dear Thief by Samantha Harvey - 9/10. Read my full review / Buy the ebook
87. Jackaby by William Ritter - 6/10. Read my full review / Buy the book
88. The Children Act by Ian McEwan - 7/10. Read my full review / Buy the ebook
89. Ghostly Tales Vol. 1 by J.S. le Fanu - 5/10. Read my full review / Get the ebook (free for Kindle)
90. I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir - 7/10. Read my full review / Buy the ebook
91. Little Egypt by Lesley Glaister - 6/10. Read my full review / Buy the ebook
92. The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn - 7/10. Read my full review / Buy the ebook
93. Dante's Divine Comedy by Seymour Chwast - 6/10. Buy the book
94. The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse - 5/10. Read my full review / Buy the ebook
95. The Horla by Guy de Maupassant - 6/10. Read my full review / Buy the ebook
September was a weird, mixed-up month in which I could never quite decide what I wanted to read (and probably made some pretty bad choices). As well as a handful of recent releases, I read a graphic novel version of The Divine Comedy, a YA paranormal mystery, an Icelandic mystery/ghost story, a couple of classic ghost/horror stories, and a fun and trashy historical novel, with varying levels of success/satisfaction.
My favourite book of the month, by a long way, was Samantha Harvey's Dear Thief. I knew I would probably love it from the moment I read the plot synopsis - it is made up of a woman's letter to an old friend, or perhaps an enemy, a letter the unnamed narrator begins on a winter's night and writes over the course of six months. It flips back and forth between the past and present, between situations real and imagined, and it is not just a portrait of a damaged, obsessive friendship, but a meditation on memory and truth in the stories we tell about our own lives. It's a really beautiful book.
Also good were I Remember You, a supremely spooky, in fact genuinely scary, ghost story/thriller set in a remote part of Iceland; The Children Act, a quietly tense legal novel which was the best thing I've read by McEwan; and The Serpent and the Pearl, aka the aforementioned trashy historical novel, which was lots of fun. Most of the other books I read in September had something good about them, but weren't quite right for me: Jackaby I would only recommend to much younger readers, Little Egypt was mostly good but unforgivably implausible in numerous ways, while the le Fanu and de Maupassant tales were enjoyable but very brief, and not the masterful examples of the genre I might have expected. However, The Bone Clocks and The Taxidermist's Daughter were both disappointments - particularly the former, since I had been looking forward to it so much. The hyperbolic praise of it from various quarters continues to mystify me.
I feel a bit burnt out at the moment - I'm not sure what I want to read or what I 'should' be reading, and I think a few recent disappointments have knocked my confidence in new fiction. My reading plan for October is uncertain - I've actually started four books in the past couple of weeks and have intermittently been reading bits of them without really committing to anything, and apart from The Horla, all the books listed above feel as if I read them ages ago. In fact, I've been writing a huge blog post about this subject for about three weeks and am just trying to cut down some of the rambling before I post it here! To be continued...
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