holiday reading

Reading by the sea without the sand

Mr Liz and I had an enjoyable short break in Bridlington over the last weekend. I took a pile of books and my Kindle – and once again, didn’t touch the Kindle: I do read things on it at home but I do wonder about just having it tag along unless there’s something I particularly want to read on it.

I took four books with me to read, one of which I’d started already, and ended up finishing three of them and starting the fourth, so I’m pretty happy with that. Also, almost half-way through July (and so through the project), I note that I’ve completed 9 books of my #20BooksOfSummer and am reading Books 10, 11 and 20 (I know I’ll finish that Icelandic children’s book last). However, I have got some big ones coming up, plus I’m in the middle of a couple of review books at the moment.

Ranulph Fiennes – “Cold”

(bought 22 August 2015)

The veteran explorer’s book about his own polar exploration and mountaineering challenges, interspersed with the history (usually bloody and miserable) of such endeavours. Lovely to read all about the Transglobe Expedition, which I remember very clearly from my youth and which was probably the thing that got me into my interest in reading about exploration in the first place.

He’s extremely laconic about danger and physical unpleasantnesses, which can end up being quite amusing to read, and is basically the hardest man alive: this isn’t a book to read at mealtimes or even just before sleeping, although my tolerance for such ickiness is higher than in novels and other books. It’s very up to date, having been published in 2013. I think there’s a “Heat” book that goes with it that I now want to read.

This book was Book Number 7 in my #20BooksOfSummer project

This book would suit … people who enjoy reading about danger and the horrors of expeditions, plus the history of polar and mountain exploration

Julia Strachey – “Cheerful Weather for the Wedding” and “An Integrated Man”

(given to me by blogger Jane from Beyond Eden Rock, 11 September 2015)

The only two novels Strachey wrote, almost 20 years apart. Both are what I would term cubist or modernist, describing life in terms of a set of shifting viewpoints and sudden sensations, inner lives and quite startling metaphors.

“Cheerful Weather” tells the story of a country wedding in Dorset. With a rueful bride swigging rum, brothers arguing about socks, strange aunts and an ex-suitor paralysed into not doing anything, it’s both a specific wedding and every wedding. Mother is worse than useless, annoying everyone and only caring about the view, and everything is full of portent and worry. The actual wedding happens off-stage, which seems typical and fitting in this odd but entertaining novella.

“An Integrated Man”, the longer book, opens with Ned Moon musing smugly on his bed about how organised his life is as he plans to set up a school with his best friend and has overcome any messy emotions and character flaws. Of course, this bubble is crying out to be burst, and burst it is: by the end, insufferable children have shrieked, housemaids have smashed china in fear at being lectured about Art by Ned’s well-meaning hostess, Gwen, and Ned himself has fallen violently and unsuitably in love.

I spent half of this book worrying that the animals with which it is full were metaphorical portents with horrors about to befall them (they might have been metaphors, but no actual horrors befell them), and there were some pretty strong erotic metaphors which gave the whole thing a rather over-heated feel, a bit like “The Go Between”. I’m not sure if it’s a roman a clef and people were busy being cross about it, but it was an interesting and of course very well-written read.

This book was Book Number 8 in my #20BooksOfSummer project

This book would suit … Bloomsburyites and the first novella is published by Persephone, which tells you most of what you need to know about it.

Nilanjan P. Choudhury – “The Case of the Secretive Sister”

(Acquired via BookCrossing 28 September 2015)

Removed from the shelves of a cafe that was closing for a refurb, I did fancy reading this and it was a light read, done with in an hour or so. A slim and quite silly Indian detective story, published by a publishing company in India and somehow finding itself in Birmingham. Mr Chatterjee has set himself up as a private detective but his agency isn’t really going anywhere, so he has to accept the job of getting a 4 year old with pushy parents into a posh school. Funny enough and the plot works, but not really long and complex enough to be absorbing.

This book was Book Number 9 in my #20BooksOfSummer project

I started reading George Eliot’s “The Mill on the Floss” and am finding that most absorbing, in contrast!

July 2016 2Not too many acquisitions, especially as I left all three that I finished in the hotel. These three came from the YMCA in Bridlington – Mr Liz and I want to read the Kingsolver soon, I am ‘allowed’ to buy George Eliots as I see them (only “Felix Holt” to go now, I think!) and the one about working as a checkout lady looked fun. I did also buy Earlene Fowler’s “Tumbling Blocks” in Whitby and came home to a copy of Tove Jansson’s “The True Deceiver” from the lovely Karen at Kaggsysbookishramblings (thank you!) so numbers are up but the TBR isn’t looking tooooooo bad still.

What have you been up to while I’ve been away? Read more than you acquired? Got on with your challenges? I will be reading other people’s blogs in time, but have some work to catch up with first!