This was a month of two halves: a rather humdrum, exhausting first half despite many cultural events, and a relaxing second half spent on holiday. Sadly, neither of the two halves did wonders for my reading: I was either too tired (first part) or too busy sightseeing and talking to people (second part) to read as much as I had planned.
I read no more than eight books, of which three were what one might call compulosry, i.e. for review for Crime Fiction Lover. Only two of them were in translation, and only two of them were by male authors.
Here are the books that I did manage to finish this October:
Sarah Moss: The Tidal Zone Planning to write a longer blog post on the writing and themes of Sarah Moss, so this will be an ongoing project over the next couple of months, to either read or reread each of her books.
Penelope Mortimer: The Pumpkin Eater – as part of the NYRB Fortnight and to fuel my ongoing fascination with mental health
Margaret Millar: Vanish in an Instant – she is a consistently good author of psychological thrillers, always a pleasure to read and reread her
Alex Beer: The Second Rider – translated by Tim Mohr. A convoluted crime novel set in the poverty-stricken, decaying Vienna following the First World War, tremendously atmospheric. Review to follow on CFL.
Helen Jukes: A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings I’ve always been obsessed with beekeeping, ever since my great-uncle used to take me as a child to see his hives. This book is more of a personal memoir and enquiry into historical traditions and the folklore of beekeeping. It is also a description of how a human heart can be opened and become receptive to love more generally through the love of bees. Well-written and very enjoyable if you are at all interested in bees.
Murakami Haruki: Killing Commendatore A whopper of a novel, which I read in just one weekend. I had a bit of a nostalgic fit about Murakami, whom I used to enjoy reading when I was younger, but who has impressed me less in recent years. While this was not entirely a return to form (far too long and repetitive, could have done with judicious editing), it was fun to read, or else I may be influenced by the Don Giovanni and many other cultural references.
Lisa Gabriele: The Winters The book started well enough as an ingenious retelling of Du Maurier’s Rebecca, with the Mrs Danvers character transformed into a sulky and vicious teenager. Sadly, I felt it became a bit too predictable at the end, with not that much to distinguish it from the current crop of domestic thrillers. Full review to follow on CFL.
JS Fletcher: The Middle Temple Murder An early crime novel to while away the evenings on holiday. It does show its age a little, but is nevertheless an enjoyable study of journalistic flair, fraud and courtroom shenanigans.
I’ve got stuck in a few books while on holiday, browsing through my parents’ bookshelves. And bought far too many, causing my children to exclaim: ‘Can you never enter a bookshop and come out empty-handed?’ (I will do a separate post on new acquisitions, as I’d also ordered a fair few, which all arrived while I was away). Predictable consequence: I had to pay for the few additional kilograms of luggage (not just books, but also honey, jam, wine and quinces – the usual stuff that people bring back from home, right?)
Plans for November include of course German Literature Month. I’ve got 5 books ready and waiting on my bedside table, so all I can do is hope that I will get round to reading as many of those as possible.