It is a truth universally recognised that time speeds up with every year I spend on this planet. Which is a long-winded way of saying that we’ve passed the half way mark of this year before I’ve even got used to writing 2022 on forms, documents etc.
Unbelievably, I saw a promotion yesterday for school uniforms — the kids haven’t even been released from this academic year and already they’re getting the new one pushed at them. I loathe the way retailers hurry us towards the next season instead of letting us enjoy the current one.
I’m sticking with the summer in my look back at the the reading month that was June.
June Reading in Brief
My attempt to read 10 books for #20booksofsummer 2022 (hosted by Cathy at 746books) got off to a reasonably good start. My list of books was designed to take me around the world in lieu of an actual holiday.
Starting from Wales with the bleak but engrossing The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi, I then hopped over the border to Cornwall, where my experience of A Perfectly Good Man cemented my interest in Patrick Gale’s fiction.
The plan was then to head to France but that was a short-lived visit because I didn’t get further than page 10 of the book I’d chosen — Revenge of the Translator by Brice Matthiessent.
It follows Trad, a translator whose latest project is translating The Translator’s Revenge, from English to French. The book opens as a series of Trad’s footnotes which explain and justify changes he makes. I’ve seen Matthiessent’s book described as “visionary and hilarious” but I found it baffling. So I diverted to Belgium for a catch up with the wine-loving, pipe-smoking Inspector Jules Maigret in Maigret Goes To School by Georges Simenon.
Our book club choice in June was the dystopian classic Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury which most people enjoyed but somewhat dated. I was interested in the way the book examined the issue of the value of books within society, but didn’t care much for Bradbury’s writing style. Far too many metaphors and similies.
My final read was The Golden Age by Tahmima Anam, one of the 70 books selected to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Queen’s Jubilee Reading list. I really enjoyed this book which takes place against a background of the war for Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, looking at this from the way the conflict affects one mother and her two children. This was the 49th book in my World of Literature Project — just one more to go!
On The August Horizon
I’m in the final pages of another title from my #20booksofsummer 2022, The Cone Gatherers by Robin Jenkins. It’s an intense tale, set on an estate in Scotland, about a gamekeeper’s descent into madness amid his hatred for two men sent to gather pine-cones from the forest.
On the horizon is the book club choice for July: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas. The recent Supreme Court ruling on Roe v Wade, has made this novel highly topical because it imagines a future world where abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilisation is banned, and the law gives rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. This should make for a very lively discussion.
I’m also hoping to make a start on my newest adventure— The Classics Project: a list of 100 classics from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Beyond that I have no plans.
Bookshelves Ins and Outs
My stack of owned-but-unread books totalled 282 by the end of June, down six from the previous month. It would have been even lower if my I hadn’t got tempted once more.
Newcomers to the bookshelves included:
Ministry For The Future by Stanley Robinson: this rare incursion into science fiction is the result of a question I put to Bill at The Australian Legend. I gave him a challenge: “Give me a few recommendations of SF that tackles serious issues that people care about.” Here are his recommendations.
The Newspaper of Claremont Street by Elizabeth Jolley: I’ve enjoyed the two Elizabeth Jolley novels I’ve already read, thanks to Lisa at ANZLitLovers who alerted me to Jolley. The synopsis of this one was enticing. It’s about an old cleaning woman—known as “Weekly” or “The Newspaper” to the residents of Claremont Street for whom she works—who dreams of escape from the parasitic demands of both her past and her present.
Quicksand by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki: bought for no reason other than I’ve been developing an interest in Japanese literature in recent years and hadn’t heard of this author.
Sea of Ink by Richard Weihe: It’s so rare to find a Pereine Press edition in a second hand book shop so of course I had to have this novella about a Chinese artist in the seventeenth century.
I do need to reign back on purchases over the next few months and make more of an effort to read the books I already have.
How was your June reading? Were there any stand out novels that you would recommend? I would love to know what you’ve been reading, and what you plan to read over the rest of the summer.