Thursday, 6 November 2014

The year in books 2014 - November

Welcome new readers! It is good to see you here. I don't know if anybody noticed, I have started to reply to comments directly by email. I can only do that if you are not a no-reply blogger. I don't actually know what that is, or if I am one... or if this is something that can be changed by the user. I don't always have much to say and I don't always reply but I do really love to hear from you, and try to visit everybody to say hello.

I am linking up with Laura over at Circle of Pines. On her blog Laura hosts The Year of Books 2014 where bloggers share their reads. I have found some great reading suggestions there and I am sure there is a book waiting for you, too.  


Let me be honest with you, I have only read one book in October. It was Iain Banks posthumously published novel "The Quarry". I have loved Iain Banks ever since I was introduced to his novels by my then boyfriend now husband during a visit in Portland, Oregon, where he lived at the time. He had to work and I had time to read. I was practicing my English. My first Iain Banks experience was "The Bridge". Although at the time I barely understood the Scots vernacular scattered throughout the book, I was hooked. But I was writing about The Quarry. This book introduces Kit and his father Guy who is dying of cancer. He (Guy) is also a thoroughly unpleasant person. I have been trying to be forgiving because terminal illness does affect people in different ways. But Guy was already unpleasant before he got ill, so much is clear. Self centred and stuck in "his good old times". He is a completely unsuitable father to Kit, who has Aspergers Syndrome, that much is clear also. The entire book describes a weekend during which Guy's old university friends meet up at their house, which is condemned due to its proximity to a expanding quarry. The demolition is imminent and things need to be done before that date. On the surface it appears to be the last of annual meetings, but the real intention of this weekend is to unearth an old video with explicit sexual content that was recorded by the group of friends during their university time and that could, if published jeopardise everybody's life. That's all I am giving away today, you have to read the book yourself to find out more :-) I didn't care much for Guy, or most of his friends but I really took to Kit, who is a vulnerable young man. I enjoyed the writing, I enjoyed the descriptions and dialogues but I am not sure if I liked the plot much. In summary, "The Quarry" probably isn't my favourite Banks read.

I am currently listening to "The Bridge" by Iain Banks, for nostalgic reasons really, and because I like the narrator, Peter Kenny, very much.

All the other fiction I enjoyed this month was read to me. I had plenty of waiting time at airports and flying time and also a few restless nights. 
I listened to no less than three of Christopher Brookmyre's  crimes novels, the Jasmine Sharp series: "Where the Bodies Are Buried", "When the Devil Drives" and "Flesh Wounds". Normally titles like this would put me off but I have known and loved Christopher Brookmyre's writing for almost as long as I have known Iain Banks'. This series is set in Glasgow. The lead characters are Jasmine Sharp as an accidental fledgling private investigator and Katherine McLeod, a detective with Strathclyde Police. Their cases converge in all three books. Another lead character is Glen Fallan, a former Glasgow thug who takes an interest in helping Jasmine with her investigations. In the first novel, Jasmine investigates the disappearance of her uncle Jim who owns the detective agency Jasmine works for (she starts of in this first book as an unemployed trained actress, earning some money at her uncle's agency whilst waiting for an acting job). Two of the novels deal with Glasgow gangs and drug lords, the other one is more centred around the theatre. I think the novels need to be read in order to make sense and to understand the developing characters and their relationships. I am looking forward to the next instalment, should there be one. I loved the books because I know my way around Glasgow (so does Brookmyre!) and because Brookmyre is an excellent story teller.

I also listened to "The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August" by Claire North. I think I picked it up because it reminded my of Kate Atkinson's "Life After Life": Harry August lives his life again and again and again. He is always born under exactly the same circumstances. Unlike Ursula in Atkinson's book, Harry gains awareness of his previous life in early childhood of his second life (and promplty kills himself). He does get used to his predicament and amasses loads of knowledge and experience. As you would if you lived your life again and again and again. Harry also has perfect memory, which is good and bad. He learns of other people like him, too. There are quite a few! In his 11th life, on his death bed in hospital, a small girl (on of his kind) passes down a message from the future: the world is ending. But it would be too complicated to tell it all, have a read for yourself, it is well worth it.

I am not sure if I have much time to read a book in November due to my final dissertation deadline. I'll try to read "Empire Antarctica. Ice, Silence and Emperor Penguins" by Gavin Francis. It is the book we chose for our terrestrial book group.

What you have you been reading recently? Any recommendations?

Have a great day! Cx

15 comments:

  1. My big read for October was the first volume of William Manchester's biography of Winston Churchill, it was almost 900 pages and SO good. Will read some shorter stuff before I get into the next volume.
    I loved Kate Atkinson's Life After Life so I'll probably go looking for The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would love to be able to read for a while after I go to bed but I have to always use eye ointment for my dry eyes so I can't see well enough to read.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I haven't had any free time to read, but plan to hunker down this winter and get a few good books read. Thanks for the recommendations.

    ReplyDelete
  4. There is nothing like a good book and some crochet during the winter months sat in front of the stove.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have never read any Iain Banks, or Christopher Brookmyre, though I am aware of both authors. It's always good to revisit much lived books, you will surely enjoy your re-read of 'The Bridge' x

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've added your book for November to my wish list. I was in Antarctica at the beginning of the year and the experience has had a big impact (though Emperors were the only penguins I didn't get to mingle with). Recent reads for me have included The Snow Child, Stoner and Lady's Maid, all of which I'd recommend. Good luck with the dissertation writing, btw.

    ReplyDelete
  7. hi Christina, you come through as a no-reply on my blog, to change it you need to go to your blogger profile (top right corner on homepage) click on blogger profile, then edit profile, then change it so that "show my email address" is ticked. you can assign here which email you want it to show, most people pick one that they just use for blogging. click save changes and you're all done x

    ReplyDelete
  8. I loved Life after Life so I am intrigued by the Claire North book. I haven't read any IaIn Banks books in years I find him a little depressing which is maybe why I have steered clear. Hope you get you dissertation finished despite the displacement activity!

    ReplyDelete
  9. The books sound great. I just finished listening to The All Girls Filling Station Reunio by Fanny Flagg, a great southern fiction novel and The Mockingbird Next Door, a book about Harper Lee the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, it was really wonderful.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hey, wow you got through a lot last month. Iain Banks & Iain M Banks books do intrigue me and I certainly intend to read some.
    I have the first fifteen lives on my list to read also and from what you have said sounds fab! Oh how my list is getting longer everyday!
    Good look with your dissertation. Not an easy or pleasant task usually.

    ReplyDelete
  11. October was certainly a busy literary month for you in one way or another! I hope that you get time in November to read your book, it sounds very interesting and I will be interested to see what you think of it. xx

    ReplyDelete
  12. The Harry August books sounds good, I've added it to my wish list. Good luck with your dissertation deadline, Christina I hope all goes smoothly for you. xx

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've never read any Iain Banks but I think I will look out for this one Christina. I'm always interested in books with characters with Aspergers having a son with Aspergers myself. I always like replies via email too!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Christina - what a pity 'The Quarry' was disappointing though I will give it a try in homage to Banks. The Clare North book sounds more to my taste - thanks for the recommendation. I still haven't sorted out audio books - must unearth that old ipod today and start downloading. I love books and plays on Radio 4 so reckon I should like being read to.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love Iain Banks but haven't read The Quarry...yet. I also love Christopher Brookmyre too. so many books so little time!!!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx