Snapshot of June

A monthly round up of what I’m reading, watching etc on the first Sunday of each month. 

sundaysalonI know, I know this is late. We’re halfway through June and here I am writing a post that should have been done on the first of the month. I did start it, honestly – but things just got in the way. I’ve had one of those months where I have seen the insides of too many airport terminals and hotel rooms. And despite best intentions, I’ve found that being away from home is just not conducive to writing book reviews and blog posts (as much as I love my  iPad, it’s not really set up for lots of typing). Enough of the excuses, here’s what I was doing on the first of the month.

Reading

Reluctantly, June 1 saw me reading Wind in the Willows for the June book club meeting. This was a book I enjoyed when I was knee high to a grasshopper and I loved the National Theatre stage version I saw in the late 1990s. But my tastes have changed and I just couldn’t get enthused by this book at all. Maybe it was just the passage of time, maybe it was the fact that the story was just too familiar or the fact I don’t like books featuring talking animals. Whatever the reason, I found I got to page 50 and simply had no appetite for reading any further. I was also reading Americanah by Chimimanda Adichie, an absolutely exquisite novel.

Watching

The MOOC course I started (though never finished) on Roman architecture whetted my appetite for more insights about the Empire. One of my birthday gifts was a collection of DVDs featuring Professor Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Cambridge University.  I’ve started on the three part  series Meet the Romans with Mary Beard in which she looks at how ordinary people lived in Rome. Her presentation style is informal (not for her the serious look to camera approach beloved of academic presenters in years go by) as she cycles along the Appian Way or sweeps some of the mosaics in Osteria. It’s a style that takes a little getting used to but well worth doing so because, boy does she know her stuff and how to put it across in a way that you can understand even without the benefit of years of classical education. I wish I had her with me some years ago when we walked around the Forum in Rome, impressed by its scale but clueless as to the significance of what we were actually seeing. Prof Beard can look at an inscription on a tomb or a monument and make the people it commemorates come alive. I’m now looking forward to the next DVD which is about Pompeii.

Prof Beard has a very good blog at http://timesonline.typepad.com/dons_life/ .Even if you are not interested in history it’s worth looking at since she talks often about reading and the study of literature.

Listening
On the iPod to accompany me in the gym or in the car is a novel by an author I’d not encountered until a few months ago and even then it was purely via audiobooks. Peter James is a British film producer and author of crime fiction including the detective Roy Grace series set in his home town of Brighton. I’ve listened to two so far, and am now part way through a third – Dead Tomorrow. I like the way he uses multiple narrative strands which run in parallel initially but converge over time. The plots also seem a cut above a lot of crime fiction because they raise some social issues – so for example, Dead Tomorrow deals with the sensitive issue of the shortage of organs through donor programs which forces some severely sick people to take drastic, and illegal action. The one thing I don’t like is the romance interest between the detective and his fiancé which always seems to feature some less than credible dialogue. Stick to the crime please Mr James!

 

About BookerTalk

After a day at the coal face of corporate communications, what better way to wind down than by sticking my nose into a good book. My tastes are eclectic. I find it easier to say what kind of books I don't especially like - gothic, science fiction and science fantasy do absolutely nothing for me. It doesn't mean I will never read them, because I am trying to broaden my reading horizons - that's the idea behind my challenge to read books from each country touched by the Equator or the Prime Meridian. Regardless of the author or country, the acid test of a good book for me is whether the characters are engaging, the plot realistic and the setting evocative. If I make it to 100 pages then I know I'll finish it.

Posted on June 15, 2014, in Sunday Salon and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I tried Wind in the Willows years ago and just couldn’t get into it. I recently tried The Art of Racing In The Rain and couldn’t get into it either. Maybe it is just something with talking animals. As a kid, though, I do remember liking The Incredible Journey. Hmmm. I don’t know what it is now, but all this to say I understand where you’re coming from.

  2. I’m just about to start reading Life of Pi which of course features animals so that might be a test of my animal book aversion

  3. Some weeks ago, you mentioned on your blog that you watch Foyle’s War. Thanks for that suggestion. That is a great show. I love murder mysteries.

  4. How far along in the series are you Fariba?

  5. I started reading Americanah earlier in the month alongside another book, and I had trouble getting into it. I’m on to A Tale for the Time Being right now but will be coming right back to Americanah.

    • I do hope you go back to Americanah – it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year. Though of course I recognise tastes are different. A Tale for the Time Being is on my list to read so will be interested to hear what you think of it Andi

  6. Grace is an author I have never managed to read with any pleasure. I’m not sure why either because you know I love a good police procedural. Maybe the problem is that I have always tried to start with the first in the series? Perhaps he gets better and I should pick up the latest and then, if I get grabbed, work my way back.

    You are the second person this week to sing the praises of ‘Americanah’. I haven’t picked it up because a friend whose judgement I value really slammed it when it first came out. I’m beginning to think it’s time to make up my own mind.

    • Oh do give Americanah a go. I wonder what made your friend turn against it so much…..
      As for Peter James novels, you know I’m not sure how good they would be in print. I’ve only experienced the audio version but i did think Dead Tomorrow was a good one

  7. Thanks for the tips on those Mary Beard Rome DVDs, Karen–will have to see if my library has copies. Also, thanks in advance for participating in Spanish Lit Month. I hope you enjoy your reading for it. Cheers!

    • Your Spanish Lit Month gave me the impetus to dust off a copy of Isabel Allende that has been lurking on my shelf for a few years. Thanks for the nudge Richard

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