What Library Staff are Reading Uncovered
- The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson – very interesting read if you are interested in how the brain functions or what makes people tick. I like his gonzo style of journalism, and while I didn’t find this as fascinating as The men who stare at goats it was full of interviews with intriguing people. There is also a history of psychiatry and some case studies that are very relevant to current issues such as children being over diagnosed with disorders such as ADD.
- Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness by Jon Ronson – having no other book ready to read at lunchtime after I quickly finished The Psychopath Test, I grabbed another of his books that was in. 50% was the story about the story, doing research for various articles and documentaries that he was working on at the time, interesting people and topics like his later books. The other 50% were random musings on the upbringing of his son which I found incredibly boring.
- Hyperion by Dan Simmons – an epic story about humans that have expanded throughout the universe. The whole book was leading up to an important event that doesn’t happen. I liked it but am glad that I am reading it in an omnibus otherwise I would have been really annoyed at not being able to continue the story. A good comparison would be if you were reading the Wizard of Oz and found out the tin man wants a heart, the lion wants courage, the scarecrow wants a brain and they start down the yellow brick road and it ends. That said I have started The Fall of Hyperion and the story continues just fine.
- After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell. I couldn’t put this beautifully moving and romantic novel down.
- Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer – I believe this could be an almost perfect book; being only a third of the way in, I’ll hold off judgment in case it turns sour, but, so far so good! Putting aside minor disagreements with his ghastly suggestions for alternative meats (Dog casserole, anyone?) I love everything he has to say. This book is not a case for vegetarianism, as Foer explicitly points out, but there are elements of a defensive argument in favour of less extremist vego’s.
- The Somnambulist by Essie Fox – I’ve just started this and I’m not sure it’s my cup of tea. I will persevere a few more chapters and see how I go…
- Last month I’d been reading Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson. In it he referenced Paul Theroux’s The Kingdom by the Sea – very similar to Bryson’s in that it’s by an American saying a fond farewell to Britain after a period of living there. Not as funny as Bryson, but I’m enjoying going from town to town with him using Google Maps.
- Had a bit of a wet weekend binge lately and have raced through Martin Westley Takes a Walk by Andrew Humphreys, Doctor Sally by PG Wodehouse and In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.
- When Colts Ran by Roger McDonald – for book group. Beautifully written, I had the sense the whole way through that I was missing something. To my relief that was the general reaction of my book group. Would love to know if that’s because the book is ‘blokey’ – any males able to enlighten me?
- People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks – what an interesting read! I loved learning about book conservation and their techniques and learning little snippets of the history of this particular historical book. The modern story was quite engaging as well. Well researched and very easy to read. Good holiday book with a bit more meat!
- Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanna Harris – Set in a small village near Angers on the Loire, it deals with the fortunes of a widow and her three children, Cassis, Reine-Claude and Framboise, against the background of the German Occupation. While the story was compelling, and the food descriptions scrumptious, I am not sure I liked the characters. They were quite dark and downright nasty to each other.
- Razor: Tilly Devine, Kate Leigh and the Razor Gangs by Larry Writer – I have loved all the Underbelly mini-series. Yes, I know, they are all out of proportion and quite fictionalised . . . so that is why I am reading the book this series in based on. While there are some licenses taken with the story and some minor stories in the book blown up into a whole episode, I am enjoying the fact that I know the characters better – some of the background stories. My fascination with this series, I am sure, has everything to do with the family suspicion my grandfather was in a Razor Gang and lived to tell the tale . . .
- The Child Thief by Brom – a dark version of the Peter Pan myth aimed at Young Adults. Brom is well known in Graphic Novel circles and also consults with Tim Burton on his films. I enjoyed this darker, more sinister Peter and the story is quite captivating. I also liked that it did not have a happy ending.
- Au Revior by Mary Moody – I know, I should have read this 10 years ago when everyone was raving about it. A good yarn, and I enjoyed Mary’s personality. Too many stories about missing the grandchildren for my liking but the descriptions of the socialising, the dinners, the meals, the wines and the French countryside made the read bearable – aimed at the Baby Boomer demographic (not me).
- Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – Based around the Manor house, Maderley, the owner Max de Winter and a new young wife in the shadow of Rebecca. An oldie but a goodie.
- I’ve been reading fiction set in India recently. Have reread A Passage to India by E M Forster which I previously read for my HSC, quite a while ago.
- Now I’m half way through A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth – this is a monster – over 1700 pages, but I’m really enjoying it and hope to complete it. Both these books are very informative in regard to Colonial times and the very classist life that existed in India at that time. Also very interesting is the subject of arranged marriage, matching suitable men and women. Our book group had a very lively meeting discussion about this subject.
- Hannah’s List by Debbie Macomber – a nice story.
- Shooting the Fox by Marion Halligan. Now in her early seventies, Canberra-based Halligan has been writing fiction for decades. Her writing is quiet, watchful, luminous. Her books get better and better. Shooting the Fox is a collection of short stories in which the writer’s unflinching sensibility tackles some dodgy corners of human psychology. She tells the truth, and she finds it all amusing.
- The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and of his Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O’Hagan – Maf is short for Mafia; the dog is a present from Frank Sinatra to Marilyn. All of the animals in this novel are intelligent, well-read philosophers, who when they get together share pithy opinions about the human species and, of course, high culture. I particularly enjoyed an exchange between Maf and a troupe of bedbugs. The humour here is satirical, delightful; and there is pathos too, as Marilyn’s life begins to unravel, and she shuts down. I loved this book.
- Homage to Barcelona by Colm Toibin. This is a bit of a love story to Barcelona, opinions accumulated over the decades during which Toibin stayed in that city. He shows the Catalunyans to be proud, entrepreneurial, high-achievers who frankly and loudly proclaim their desire to secede from Spain. He gives a chapter to the remarkable architecture in Barcelona, and the unique works of Antoni Gaudi. I really enjoyed reading bits of the book and walking the streets of the town, remembering his comments. Read this if you’reheading to Spain anytime soon.