What Library Staff are Reading Uncovered
- A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman by Margaret Drabble, best known as a novelist. This is a collection of her short stories. Loved them. Nice observations of human nature.
- Five Bells by Australian writer Gail Jones. I enjoy novels set in Sydney, you’ll recognise lots of the places she talks about. The action centres round Circular Quay. The lives of four separate people intersect on a fine summer day in Sydney. Some meditations on Sydney’s multi-cultural population implicit in the story.
- My Lover’s Lover by Maggie O’Farrell. Why did she bother? This is boring and pointless, not a patch on her other work which I have enjoyed.
- The Misogynist by Piers Paul Read. Nicely-written, absorbing portrait of a man whose glass tends to be half-empty.
- Reamde by Neal Stephenson – Great book. I could leave it at that but the book deserves much more praise. I am a little biased after a friend convinced me to read one Stephenson book last year and then I read everything he had written in six months from cyberpunk to historical fiction. I like his characters and the way in which he weaves technological developments into the story, a common theme of all of his books. This book takes place in the present and involves creating virtual worlds, gold farming in RPGs, wikipedia, jihadists, drug running, survivalists, Russian mafia, MI6, FBI and much more. I might call it a techno-thriller except I have never read one so don’t how accurate the description is. I think his books defy genres.
- Invented Knowledge: Fake History, Fake Science and Pseudo-religions by Ronald H Fritze – Way more academic then I had hoped it would be. The book focused on only a handful of topics and went very in-depth into them and often repeating information. Excellent reading if you want to know the history of belief in Atlantis or where the racist beliefs of some American Christian fundamentalists or the Nation of Islam comes from.
- Batman and the Mad Monk by Matt Wagner – A novel about the early career of Batman which takes a very similar path to most tales of his early career. He is determined, he gets hurt doing things he hasn’t had practice doing yet, it references the deaths of his parents, it shows Alfred’s concern for his wellbeing and it shows that he can’t juggle a personal life and being the Batman. Not the worst early Batman tale but far from the best.
- Currently reading the autobiographies of two Australia comedians: The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do and Me of the Never Never by Fiona O’Loughlin. While of different backgrounds (Vietnamese refugee family and Irish Catholic 3rd (I think) generation), these 2 Australian artists both base their comedy on their family dynamic and history. Both books are easy read that can make you both laugh and cry.
- Symphony Training Guides – While instructional, they do lack in character and plot development. For aficionados of the genre only.
- The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides: I have a theory that when writers start writing about writing then they are officially out of plots and are reverting to what they know. I get pretty bored by these novels, and so I was filled with apprehension when The Marriage Plot seemed to be about the next worst thing- a book about reading. I soldiered on however, and the philosophy subsided to a dull roar. The setting is Brown University in the early 80’s, and the novel follows three young graduates in their first year out of college. There is a love triangle, mental health crises, existential angst and a fair bit of navel gazing from our protagonists, none of whom I cared a jot about- but I still enjoyed the novel. Having greatly enjoyed his previous novel Middlesex, I was looking forward to The Marriage Plot, however I was underwhelmed with the scope and theme of this novel (who cares about privileged College graduates?), but Eugenides’ writing won me over in the end, and I am giving it the thumbs up.
- Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom – I enjoyed this one, especially Professor Morrie’s message about giving, which is exactly what he did in allowing this book to be written and shared.
- The Guardian Angel’s Journal by Carolyn Jess-Cooke – The story of Margot, now ‘Ruth’, who has died (we don’t know how until the end) and returns to Earth as a guardian angel to watch over herself. I think I like the premise more than the delivery. I sometimes found the narrator’s humour a little distracting; perhaps if it was more complimentary of the sentimental aspects of the novel I would have found it easier to like the main character/narrator.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – I’ve been reading this on the Library’s Sony Reader as part of the eReader Training. I must admit, reading a classic on the Reader’s E-ink pages isn’t quite as satisfying as the tactile nature of, say, gold trimmed paper ones!
- PS – The Somnambulist was so good, I completely forgot the author, then got the wrong author when I looked it up on the catalogue!!! The one I (didn’t) read was by Essie Fox.
- Reading The Queen of New Beginnings by Erica James
- Making Stuff For Kids by Victoria Woodcock – fantastic crafts for kids to do, contemporary and fun
- I have read Inheritance by Nicholas Sparks, a really good read with a good storyline. Also read Herman Melville’s ‘Billy Budd’ which I found a chore to read, very slow and dissects the morals of the 1780’s era, this was a book club book and not my choice but glad I perservered and finished it.
- Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger – the author who brought us The Devil Wears Prada….not as good as that book but still a highly readable chicklit/chewing gum for the eyes. Set in New York and based around three girlfriends – Leigh, Adriana and Emmy – and a year in their life….
- The Strip by J.J Salem – it must be budget time because I am devouring gloriously trashy fiction…..a modern Jackie Collins based in Las Vegas. The interwoven story of three women who share the same stud for hire….this one I listened to on Talking Book. It was an excellent production and used two speakers….but certainly not a book for the faint-hearted.
- Love Always by Harriet Evans – Natasha’s grandmother dies and the whole family is thrown into turmoil. Set in London and Cornwall and the unravelling of family secrets long hidden makes for an interesting read. I like the use of a historical diary as a tool in the story too. Very readable!
- Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s America by Natasha Vargas-Cooper- A look at the 1960s advertising industry revolution that inspired the hit television series, Mad Men. Great to read some behind the scenes stories for the wonderful series I am addicted to – Mad Men.
- At the Loch of the Green Corrie by Andrew Grieg – plenty of fishing action in a personal memoir of joy and loss, poetry, geology, the Highlands, whisky, love and male friendship.
- Mary Boleyn: The Great and Infamous Whore by Alison Weir – What a title! Weir is the queen of historical biography. Not so keen on her fiction though.
- Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovich – a suggestion from Robyn who, like me, appreciates the madcap humour of Jasper Fforde – had a ball with it!
- Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs – the poignant story of Raymond Briggs’ parents. I love Raymond Briggs ever since picking up Fungus the Bogeyman years and years and years ago . . .
- Burke and Hare by Owen Dudley Edwards – I lived along from their haunt in the West Bow in my student days in Edinburgh. These naughty guys found they could make money from dead bodies in early 19thC Edinburgh. The first natural death led to about 15 unnatural ones. The cover says it’s ‘gruesome and funny and sometimes both together” – it isn’t, it’s a dense, academic-type text with no humour at all – in my opinion.
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – first time I’ve read it – downloaded from Project Gutenburg. A riotous morality tale we all know so well.