Reading Snapshot October 2016

autumn-leaves-in-sun3I can pretend no longer. The tinges of red on bushes in my garden and the rate at which our copper beech is shedding leaves tells me that summer is over. Time for the season of mists and intermittent sunshine.

I know many readers who change their reading habits once the seasons evolve and start to think of slightly darker, or more cosy books once the nights begin drawing in. I don’t consciously do that – as far as I can tell I read pretty much the same things all year round. It’s rather a coincidence therefore that the two books I have on the go at the start of October are rather dark.

Reading Currently

One is the latest in the Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny that I’m reviewing for NetGalley. Penny has found a clever way of dealing with the problem that two books earlier she made her protagonist retire from his job as head of homicide for the Quebec region after a dramatic showdown with the corruptive elements in the force.  The last novel saw him retire to the quiet community of Three Pines with this wife, but even then he found a crime to solve. But of course she can’t go on creating crimes in Three Pines given it is such a small community. The latest novel A Great Reckoning sees him take up a new role at the helm of the police training academy, determined on a root and branch review and a cull of the less desirable influences which of course sets him firmly on course to antagonise his colleagues. One of them get murdered and Gamache is in the frame as a potential murder. As with all of Penny’s novels we get a reasonably good plot but a lot of thoughtful commentary about the state of the world as seen by Gamache.

It’s all rather different from my second novel which is Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights – the first in his trilogy. I read it a few years ago and wasn’t all that enamoured with it – it features a talking bear and some fantastical creatures called daemons that you carry with you as a reflection of your soul. Reading it a second time for my  study module on children’s literature I can appreciate more the way Pullman plays with the typical elements of fantasy and quest fiction, of mythology and Paradise Lost to create a tale of other worlds that asks searching questions about religion and the role of the Church. Still wish he hadn’t included  talking bears though….

Just Finished

I do seem to be on a run of darker material since I only just finished Do Not Say We Have Nothing by the Canadian author Madeline Thien. It’s shortlisted for both the Booker prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. It covers a vast swathe of Chinese history from the era of Mao and the devastation he brought to the nation not to mention the untold number of deaths, right up to the massacre at Tiananmen Square. Some of the history is familiar from my reading of Wild Swans (one of my favourite non fiction books) but Thien looks at this through the lens of three highly respected and talented musicians and how political upheaval affects their ability to learn, play and enjoy music. It’s an ambitious novel and really tough to review for Shiny New Books for their upcoming edition.

What’s next?

A lot of other children’s novels await my attention in coming months. Next in order will be Treasure Island which I love and Little Women which I loathe…. In between I hope to get to some of the books I mentioned in a recent post about books on the Autumn reading plan but like most of my plans its likely to go astray. German literature month beckons as does the 1947 club and then there’s the Classics Club prize which I have sadly neglected this year and the Booker project and my world literature project. Plenty to occupy me for sure.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on October 1, 2016, in Bookends, British authors, Canadian authors, Children's literature and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. Two Canucks on your stacks simultaneously: next you’ll be swapping out your Booker prize project for the Giller! Heheh Enjoy your October: yes, it is undeniably autumn here too.

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  2. I wish you all the best with your children’s literature reading. I have to admit, I love the talking bears in Northern Lights actually if a book or film has talking animals in I am sold!

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  3. Treasure Island, what fun! I read that when I was around 12 and loved it! Now and then I think about reading it again but then get distracted.

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  4. I reckon as soon as I make a reading plan/ list, I read everything else but those books! I made a list a week or so ago (just 10 books that will finish off all my reading challenges) and so far I’ve read two books that AREN’T on the list!

    Why read Little Women if you loathe it??

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  5. I didn’t like Pullman’s trilogy because of his ax-grinding about the Catholic Church. In his essays, he rips into C. S. Lewis for his including such a strong religious bias and blatant allegory, but he’s doing the same thing with his atheism. And yes, I feel that atheism at that extremity is a religion of itself. It’s certainly a set of beliefs that is just as unprovable as the existence of God.

    Anyway, sorry for the rant. I’ll get off my soapbox now.

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  6. I love the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. I hope you like your reread of Northern Lights (The Golden Compass). Have a good week.

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  7. You are extraordinarily ambitious, I think. Do take a look at the Cybils nominees if you get a chance. They are wonderful children’s books.

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  8. I’ve heard such great things about Pullman and really want to like his books, but I just don’t. I think I’ve tried to start the His Dark Materials trilogy at least three times and can’t get into it.

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  9. I’m really looking forward to reading Do Not Say We Have Nothing – I love stories that take place over multiple time periods like that and think the political aspect will totally work for me.

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  10. After a terribly dry summer that sucked the life out of most of my terrace plants, I’ve accepted its autumn and happily replanted things that will stay colourful through the next few months and require a lot less watering! It’s my favourite spot for reading and I was being distracted by dried up plants, so hoping the reading will be distraction free now! I have some cosy Caribbean novels for the next few months, can’t wait to get into them.

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  11. LOL You’d best be careful if you review Little Women, some of my readers were *not happy* about my review of The Railway Children.
    (I loved LW when I was eleven, but I have more than a suspicion about what I’d think of it if I read it now.)

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  12. Well, it’s sunshine all year round here pretty much (though right now we’re smack dab in the middle of hurricane season) so the weather is temperamental to put it mildly). So I’m not aware of any changes to my reading habits though I did recently pick up Walter Mosley’s Bad Boy Brawly Brown (from his Easy Rawlins series) and I find that I’m enjoying something with an easier pace, something that in spite of the fact that it lives in the seedy underbelly of yesteryear California doesn’t feel so …heavy. Of the ones you mentioned, I’m intrigued by Northern Lights. Adding that to my ever-growing to-read list. And bite your tongue about Little Women, those are fighting words (joking, to each her own). Love the March sisters and Jo March especially. In fact, I still mourn the loss of the mug I bought at Louisa May Alcott’s house when I visited a few years ago.

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  13. I tend to like to go for autumnal books – perhaps Dickens or something a bit creepy if there’s time. Though mostly at the moment I’m trying to keep up with 1947!

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  14. I’m posting via Facebook, as WP sent my comment to your spam folder…again!

    I love the Gamache series, even though I’ve only read the first two. Enjoy your books! Thanks for sharing.

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  15. I’m just curious…why would you read a book you loathe?

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  16. I often look for cosy reads in autumn though I have book group book 1947 club reads and #Woolfalong books to get to as well this month. I loved Little Women when I re-read it which surprised me given its twee preechy-ness which is something I generally hate. I think I was in need of cosy familiarity at the time.

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