What Library Staff are Reading Uncovered
The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker – I think this might be a new favourite author – with an amazingly sharp wit, transformative moments of stream-of-consciousness and insight into the human condition. This book is narrated by a hapless poet with writer’s block, and explores the poetic beauty (and comedy) he finds in his everyday experiences. Like a great poem, this work’s meter and splendour occasionally shoots straight through to the unconscious mind, giving me the shivers (the good kind).
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters – A beautifully-written and mysterious historical saga. Beginning in 1947 England in the aftermath of World War II, it follows the lives of interesting characters with remarkable pasts. A skilful exploration of gender identification, sexuality, family ties and secret lives.
- Monster and The Girl in the Cellar by Allan Hall – Both books have an abundance of information about these two horrific, strange and parallel ‘girl in cellar’ cases. However each book tends to be a bit repetitive, as though the writer is thinking of ways to fill space – a few key statements and trivia are basically just phrased in a new way, a number of times (very annoying).
- The Girl in the Cellar was also attacked by the victim’s lawyers, with them stating that it was premature, and based mainly on hearsay and speculation. Despite this, I do like how the writer explores the possible societal and historical influences of these cruel and bizarre Austrian crimes.
- Letters to Ebay: Antics of a Virtual Prankster by Art Farkas.
- Stephen Fry’s Making History – modern day science tries to wipe out Hitler only to discover that things can always get worse! Slow to start – part 1 was a very long & ordinary scene setting exercise, but part 2 was worth waiting for.
- Jennifer Rowe’s newest title Love, Honour & O’Brien – set in the mountains (can’t say I recognised her description of Springwood as the place I work though), but completely different to her Verity Birdwood mysteries and her Tessa Vance Crime series – much lighter, funnier, but still had me turning the pages quickly to see how it would turn out.
- Embarking on Phillipa Gregory’s The White Queen – only just started but so far quite readable – my favourite way to brush up on my history…
- Tried Julian Fellowes’ Snobs but had to give it away – can’t stand a book where all the characters are so completely unlikeable!
- Finally gave in a read Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency – pleasant and easy, but I prefer my mysteries a little more compelling (did love the TV series though – perfect relaxing and undemanding Sunday night viewing).
- I’m sure I’ve read something else recently, some light fluffy thing involving a guardian angel and a disappearing nephew, but like all good customers I can’t recall the title or author!
- The way of shadows by Brent Weeks – This was recommended at a Reader’s Advisory seminar on Fantasy Fiction. I ;enjoyed it but it isn’t one of my favourites, bit too dark.
- Votive by Karen Brooks – Second in The Curse of the bond riders. It’s even better than the first book (Tallow)
- Tree of man by Patrick White for my book group. I still haven’t finished it, it seems to go nowhere with an awful lot of writing.
- Eragon by Christopher Paolini – This is my second reading of this and I enjoyed it just as much.
- I’ve just startedStormlord’s Exile which is the third in the Watergivers trilogy. Just as good as the first two. I need the fantasy fiction to restore my faith in reading after Tree of Man.
- Freakonomics – A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner – So who made the connection to lowering crime rates and legal abortion? This is just one of the scenarios explored in this thought-provoking read. For a snapshot of modern society with interesting theories as to how and why certain things happen, backed up by statistical analysis, worth the read just to stretch the braincells.
- Last Chance Café by Liz Byrski – Took me a few chapters to get into this novel but once I did, the characters endeared themselves to me. Lots of intricate twists and turns with a few surprises along the way. Good chicklit, or chewing gum for the eyes.
- The Red Wind by Isobelle Carmody – This is a delightful Young Adult story – more of a fable really . . . based on the brothers Zluty and Bily and the humble life they have created for themselves around their cottage, living off the land and in harmony with all around them. That is until the Arosh (Red Wind) comes through and changes everything . . . Apparently the first in a new series so I will be interested to see what happens next.
- Fabulous Things by Kelly Braffet – Probably more of a Young Adult novel full of angst and unresolved issues. A little like Flowers in the Attic which is also referred to in the story, in that the close relationship between brother and sister borders on obsession. But an interesting read, full of colourful characters which ends up in New York, a place I am always happy to read about.
- When Colts Ran by Roger McDonald – a book group read. A fan of McDonald’s The Ballad of Desmond Kale, I enjoyed the beautiful writing but I wondered all the way through what the something was that I wasn’t quite getting.
- The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin – Complaints detective Malcolm Fox in a typical Rankin page-turner.
- At the Loch of the Green Corrie by Andrew Greig – winner of the Scottish Saltire prize, this is a beautiful homage to one Scottish poet to another (Greig to Norman McCaig) with a fishing trip to the Loch of the Green Corrie in Assynt.
- The Tree of Man by Patrick White – read for my other book group. I downloaded this one as an ebook from Yarra Plenty’s Overdrive site (something you’ll all have a go at). A lot of words and not much happening, I took three weeks to read 341 out of 441 pages (depending on what font size I chose) before my loan expired and it suddenly, mid-sentence, expired. I did try to get it back out again immediately but there must be a statute of limitations and I haven’t had the will to try too hard again.
- Elsie and Mairi Go to War by Diane Atkinson – the true story of two extraordinary women who set up first aid stations on the front line in Belgium in the Great War. Decorated for their courage by both the Belgian and British kings and the only women allowed to nurse on the front line the mystery is how they have not remained as wildly famous as they were during the war.
- Started Gillespie and I by Jane Harris – set in Glasgow in the 1880s and London in the 1930s I haven’t yet made up my mind about this one.
- This month I have been reading the energy output from my household appliances, using the library’s Save Power Kit. It was an interesting read, however it held no great surprises or plot twists. It wasn’t a life changing experience, as we had already changed our energy lifestyle a couple of years ago, and in fact I was a little disappointed to discover that many of the appliances that we leave unplugged actually use very little on standby. Still, it was a fun exercise, and a reminder that pretty much everything that is plugged in but not running still uses power. Who would have thought that the washing machine was guzzling power just sitting there?
- My lover’s lover by Maggie O’Farrell – not my favourite novel by this author. I found it hard to get into. A love story about breaking up with thrilling twists.
- The Year we seized the day by Elizabeth Best – an offbeat travelogue of a couple walking the Camino trail in Northern Spain, quite an achievement for this couple who were not walkers but were determined to finish the entire 800kms pilgrimage.
- In Turkey I am Beautiful by Brendan Shanahan, an Australian journalist, who travels around Eastern Turkey and describes the culture and chaos of Turkey in great detail, a very interesting read.
- Now I am ploughing through Billy Bragg by Herman Melville and finding it a really hard read so not getting very far. Needless to say this is a book group book and not chosen by me! but for some light relief I am also reading The Last time we met by Anita Shreve, I find she is a good writer and most of her books are quite enjoyable and easy to read.
- Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout – this is a series of inter-connected stories set in a community where Olive lives. Strout’s writing is always arresting. She fossicks among the domestic lives of the characters, enjoying the ironies of their behaviour. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009.
- When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman – this is a coming-of-age story, the central character being a young girl growing up in a loving and entirely believable family. (The rabbit is a present and she names it God.) She adores her brother, and also becomes friends with their neighbour, Jenny Penny, whose life is by no means easy, and who comes to grief by and by. The girls lose and find each other over the years, as life unfolds around them. I like the honesty and non-judgemental attitudes here.
- Dan Simmons – The Fall Of Hyperion: A nice ending to what began in the first book. Very different books that I don’t think should be separated. I enjoyed the story as a whole, there were a lot of great sci-fi concepts like teleportation, AI, time travel and life extension. There was a little too much of the fantasy element for my tastes but it was bearable within the frame of all the sci-fi. Apparently this book ‘reinvented sci-fi’ in the 90s. It was a good long read but I personally prefer my sci-fi a little more down to earth.
- Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky – Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture: I like DJ Spooky’s music so I thought I would give this book a go. He is the editor and contributes a few essays to the content. I really enjoyed all of the history of hip hop, electronic music and sampling however much of the content was very academic and a bit heavy for light reading. The CD that comes with the book is a great sampling of the kind of music referred to in the essays.
- Red Hood: The Lost Days (Graphic novel): Only of interest to those really into the Batman canon, a category I fall into. It tells the years of the character Red Hood before he entered the main Batman story arc a few years back. For those uneducated with Batman comics, in the late 80s Robin became Nightwing and so a new Robin was introduced. Fans did not like him too much and a phone poll was held to decide his fate, by a small margin the fans voted to kill him off. The Joker killed the new Robin and it was thought that was the end of it until a few years back when they reintroduced the dead Robin as an undead villain called Red Hood. I assure you it is all quite plausible in the Batman universe.