May seems to have sped by like a runaway train, and I can’t believe that I’m already doing another monthly reading summary. This month seems to have been all about what is somewhat annoyingly described as ‘self-care’, which brings to mind a candle-lit bath and a warm cocoon of a towel. In my case, however, it means reading books in which I can lose myself, preferably without crying.
A rather productive reading month, 15 books read (one of them a re-read), only one turkey, and quite a few winners. 9 books by women writers, 6 by men, 5 in translation.
Funny, humane, instantly recognisable and imaginative. Reminded me in parts of The Man Who Fell to Earth, except it shows more love for humans in spite of all of our flaws. Some moments had me laughing out loud, while others are almost in danger of descending into sentimentality. But, as the author says,
‘Sentimentality is another human flaw. A distortion. Another twisted by-product of love, serving no rational purpose. And yet, there was a force behind it as authentic as any other.’ Perfect mood-boosting book for all who have felt a little out of step with life and the others.
Muriel Spark: A Far Cry from Kensington
Rereading this zany look into the world of publishing, with all of Spark’s trademark humour, precise wording, wit, and just a tinge of cruelty.
Vivienne Tufnell: Away with the Fairies
Pantheistic approach to nature, life, creation and love.
Jane Gardam: The Stories
Elegant, witty yet very empathetic account of marginalised, ignored, insignificant little people. Some may be annoying, some inspire pity or sadness, but all are presented with a lot of heart.
Elizabeth Jane Howard: The Light Years
Searched for this at the library after reading Sarah Perry’s loving tribute to the Cazalet series in the Foxed Quarterly. I knew I had read one or two of the books, out of order, but couldn’t remember which ones or much else, so I started at the beginning. Perfect comfort reading for these turbulent times, although it actually depicts a Britain with odd similarities to the present-day, just before WW2, considerable uncertainty and fear, conflicting attitudes towards war and Hitler. All the little details of life are here, with recognisable concerns and characters, even though the main characters are all rich and privileged, have servants and seemingly endless baths and meals.
Andrée Michaud: Boundary
Susie Steiner: Persons Unknown
Tina Seskis: The Honeymoon
Matt Wesolowski: Six Stories
Perfectly captures the chilly beauty and sinister quality of the Finnish winter. This book pushes the boundaries of a conventional thriller – yes, we have a hitman and quite a few murders along the way, we have a conspiracy about a mining project which has gone wrong, but it is really about family, having principles and values, feeling conflicted between finding out the truth and protecting your loved ones. Fully realised characters and an unobtrusive, limpid, muscular storytelling style (without ever being garishly macho, like in most action thrillers).
Clever Observation in Prime Location
Delia Ephron: Siracusa
All the pretentiousness of rich Americans and Brooklynites abroad mercilessly exposed in this tale of marital break-down, selfish adults and abundant self-delusions. Review to appear shortly on Shiny New Books.
Sarah Stovell: Exquisite
Not so much a psychological thriller, as a carefully orchestrated duet and a welcome respite from the relentless insistence on implausible twists for the sake of twists in recent books. From my review on Crime Fiction Lover:
‘The fun of the book lies in the inevitable downward spiral into obsession, jealousy and revenge. You might be tempted to read Exquisite quickly, breathlessly, but I would advise you to take your time and savour the journey. The author is completely in control of pace and characters, like a fine piano tuner able to make the most minute adjustments to the tension in each string, each chapter, each interaction. Allow yourself to be played. Enjoy the music.’
Andrzej Stasiuk: On the Road to Babadag
Wolfgang Herrndorf: Sand
When I heard that this was about a serial killer targeting criminals of gypsy origins in Romania, I expected it to be a police procedural with some political echoes. In fact, it is an unusual political thriller which examines how inflammatory rhetoric, extremist discourse and racial hatred are peddled by politicians for their own purposes and the devastating consequences it can have. Highly relevant for our times, not just in Romania.
28 thoughts on “Reading Summary for May 2017”
Great reading month. Light years is on my TBR too and everyone seems to love it.
At times it does seem a little anachronistic but they were different times and they are still very human, rounded characters.
Siracusa sounds right up my alley. I hope June provides as many satisfying bookish distractions as May did for you.
We share our view on self-care 🙂
I am hoping to read The Mine soon, and I adored Exquisite and how it played with my mind and with words.
I wish you a great bookish June
Always manage to get in an Orenda book, nearly every month… Thanks for your wishes, and hope you have a good month too.
Glad you had such a good reading month, Marina Sofia. And some of these really sound tempting to me *looks again at Spada*…
I’m really hoping it will get translated into English, Margot. I’ll let you know. It is a document of our times…
An interesting selection of books this month! And I know what you mean about hiding in them – I alternative with shouting at co-workers to try and bully them into not voting for That Woman with hiding inside the cover of a book and trying not to get upset about it….
I work from home (or else run training courses, when I’m not allowed to rant), so the only people who get to hear my hot political views are my sons and … Twitter. I’ll probably lose all my followers. Plus I feel like Trump… heaven forbid!
A good reading month! I am definitely feeling like getting lost in books lately. Things make more sense there even if they are falling to pieces.
I’ve got that tune ‘It’s end of the world as we know it’ stuck in my head and it’s making me insanely cheerful. Must be losing my marbles!
LOL there are worse songs to have stuck in your head at the end of the world 😉
I’ve never really worked out how candles are supposed to be theraputic – the price of some of them alone is enough to get me stressed out.
I also read recently that, together with smoking, they are the biggest source of air pollution in the home. As are air fresheners.
Really – what are they emitting that is polluting the air?
I think it’s particularly when you blow them out…
I will hve to investigate this. I’m suspicious of a lot of this sort of stuff
A good mixed reading month from the sound of it – even grim and dark books can feel like a nice little break from reality these days! I think my pick of these would be either The Mine or Six Stories…
They are both rather good, so go for it! And yes, we need all the breaks from reality that we can get.
I come here to read and learn and what happens? More books on the impossible TBR lists. Several books sound good to me, especially Spada. And you answered my question about whether it’s in English translation. I’ll hope and wait for it.
Glad you had a good reading month. I wish I could read with a lovely cat at my feet.
So sorry to do that to you. If it’s any consolation, all of my book recommendations now come from other blogs as well…
Siracusa made my best of year-list.
A really interesting month! I’ve not read any Elizabeth Jane Howard, you’ve reminded me I really must take a look at the Cazalet novels.