Tuesday, March 25, 2008

First Quarter Reading, 2008. Part 1: Fiction

So, it’s been three months, time to clear out my “Recent Reading” list. But I don’t want to delete it all together, just put it on course to land in the blog archives. Here are some of the things I read in the first quarter of 2008, with links and commentary. First the fiction. I’ll write about the nonfiction in a separate post.

  • The Singing Sands, by Josephine Tey. I love to read most anything well written, and had forgotten what a wonderful writer Tey is. I picked up this book – the last the author wrote before her death in 1952, when I needed a slim, satisfying volume to take on the plane somewhere. Satisfying it was. Set in Scotland (one of my chief virtual destinations this quarter) and full of place-y details and great character development. Think Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, etc.
  • The Sunday Philosophy Club; Friends, Lovers, Chocolate; The Right Attitude to Rain; and The Careful Use of Compliments, by Alexander McCall Smith. I enjoyed the introduction to the city of Edinburgh and other parts of Scotland provided by this series, and the relationships, observations, and reflections of the main character, a philosopher. The plots are on the slow side – as in all of his works, it’s more about the characters. The only real complaint I had, though, was one character’s too-graceful transition into single motherhood. (It can’t be that easy, Sandy…)
  • Sweet Revenge, by Diane Mott Davidson. Yes, another by one of Colorado’s most popular authors – in the mysteries-and-food genre. Goldy is a caterer. This volume is partially set in the local public library, which added a fun element. Not her best, but worth picking up in the library or reading at the bookstore.
  • Summer Island, and On Mystic Lake, by Kristin Hannah. Not great literature but good reads of the hard-to-put-down variety. The first is set in the San Juan Islands and deals well with parent/child relationships, the second on the Olympic Peninsula (and had too much sex in it, I thought). Think of Debbie Macomber, particular her more thoughtful stuff (like Changing Habits).
  • Charlie Bone and the Time Twister, by Jenny Nimmo. I was hoping for a multiple-volume series of fantasy books for kids or young adults that would be well-written, engaging, and keep my mind occupied with something outside this world but wholesome (vs. books that are too hard, over too fast, not relaxing, or not the kind of thing I should be filling my head with). But Charlie Bone (sometimes compared to Harry Potter) hasn’t grabbed me. Any suggestions?
  • Persuasion, by Jane Austen. This is the Austen book I’m least familiar with. Though I’ve probably read it, I’d forgotten it. Got the book on tape from the library and loaded it on my MP3 player, but this one, at least at the slow pace of an audio book, is a yawner. I’d do better with a Dover paperback so I could skip ahead or look back. Roommate and I watched the new-ish movie Becoming Jane recently, though, and I would recommend that.
  • Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne. Jules Verne is a lot of fun – well-written but fairly light, and quite action-packed for its time. There are at least a couple of film versions of this one, aren’t there. Anyone seen them?
  • The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I read his stories on and off throughout the winter. Good stuff. Mystery short-stories tend to trade in murder and deceit, so I try not to read a bunch at once, but otherwise these were a good mental diet. Like doing puzzles, in moderation.
Up Next:

Among the fiction books I plan to pick up are...

- Something by Colorado science-fiction author Connie Willis, recommended by my friend Barb
- The Shack, by William Young, at the recommendation of my friends Shane and Ann

I could use some additional alternatives to the murder mysteries (dark or not so dark), "relationship" focused books that take my mind where it needn't go, and books that model value systems I don't want to be overly influenced by. (Sadly, too many 'Christian' books do the same, so that may not be the answer.)

Don't get me wrong, I am not against reading things that move my emotions or challenge my thinking, and some of the nonfiction I've read has been great. But I could use some more wholesome fiction of various genres to read when I'm relaxing.

Any suggestions?

1 comment:

Megan Noel said...

i suggested the hungry city chronicles to you. i guess there is some violence and stuff but i still love them. phillip reeve. and he wrote one called larkslight that is a bit... lighter! also try Howard Whitehouse's 2 kid's fantasy novels. and try the OTHER nimmo series, the magician series. i liked it better. lots of welsh mythology.

i just read the city of dreaming books, that was a lot of fun. also for connie willis try : to say nothing of the dog (inspired by jerome k. jerome) and passages.

and reread prince caspian, the movie will be out soon!