#20books of summerReading plans

Reading horizons: Episode 21

Reading Horizons: August 2019

What I’m reading now

Shell by  Kristina Olsson is one of the books on my booksofsummer list which is a virtual ‘holiday’ around the world. 


Olsson’s novel gives me a reason to visit Australia. I’d planned to be in the country for real earlier this year but had to abandon that part of my trip. I never did get to see Sydney and its most famous building – the Opera House – which features prominently in  Shell. 

The novel is set in 1965; a time of tremendous change in the city. The Opera House is under construction has not met with universal acclaim from politicians and residents. In another unwelcome development, the city’s young men are being conscripted to fight in the Vietnam war. 

Amid the turmoil, a fiercely anti war journalist and a Swedish glassmaker find each other. 

Shell is an ambitious novel that is exquisitely written.

In a diversion from my summer reading plans I am enjoying a novel by a Welsh author which is due for publication on September 19, 2019. It’s translated from Welsh by Gwen Davies.

The Jeweller by Carys Lewis reminds me very much of the style of a Virago Classic. It’s the tale of Mari, a market stall holder in a seaside town, who lives alone except for her pet monkey. She surrounds herself with letters discovered while clearing out the houses of the recently dead.

The Jeweller

I’ll have an exclusive extract from this novel to share with you on September 20.

What I’ll read next

I’m hoping I can squeeze in another book from my summer reading list just so that I can say I’ve read 10

Most likely my choice will be A Dry White Season by Andre Brink. This is described on Goodreads as “an unflinching and unforgettable look at racial intolerance, the human condition, and the heavy price of morality.”

I’ve read a number of South African authors but never anything by Brink. This is meant to be his best work of fiction.

I have some library books vying for attention (why do all my reservations arrive at the same time???). The Chain by Adrian McKinty is a crime novel that is getting a lot of attention and praise at the moment. I also have Lammy by Max Porter which is on the Booker Prize longlist and Aftermath by Rhidian Brook, a Welsh author I am embrarrased to say I have yet to read.

Those are my plans – what’s on your reading horizon for the next few weeks?

This post is for WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.


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

26 thoughts on “Reading horizons: Episode 21

  • I liked brink but only read a couple by him years ago I have the jeweller to read as well

    • This will be a first for me – I;ve read plenty of other S African authors but not got to him yet

  • Currently reading an excellent collection of Anna Kavan short stories and prose for Shiny New Books. Up next? Who knows. Maybe another translated woman or perhaps a British Library Crime classic. Maybe even some poetry! 😀

    • I do wish I enjoyed short stories more. Do you read all of them in a collection in one go or slip each one in between other reading?

      • It depends really. These I’m reading all together so far as each slips nicely into the next. But I have been known to divvy them up when I’m reading another book. I think it would vary depending on the author. These are of all different lengths so they don’t get too samey.

        • Thanks for the insight. One day maybe I’ll get into them ….

  • My summer reading has included “The Silent Sister” by Diane Chamberlaine and Christobel Kent’s “What We Did”. Both start with the rape of a pupil by a violin teacher following which the victim gets away with the murder of her assailant. I blogged about them, asking if murder is justified in such circumstances. I also beta read “Kindred and Affinity” another excellent slice of British history from Pembroke based (Northampton born) Rebecca Bryn, and Lucinda E Clarke’s “A Year in the Life of Leah Brand”.
    I recently finished Ron Rash’s “Serena”, set in the Apalachians during the depression and have just started “The Amazing Adventures of Kevalier and Clay”, Michael Chabon’s Pullitzer Prize winner, discovered in a local charity shop. It’s 600+ pages so will take me a while!

    • Hi Frank, thanks for sharing your reading plans. I was given a book by Christobel Kent years ago – I’ve no idea what it was called but I did enjoy it. Strangely though I never went looking for anything else by her.

  • I enjoyed Aftermath and meant to look out for more from Brook, so thanks for the reminder! Of the others, the South African one appeals most. Happy reading!

  • I have been so focused on the Summer School that I haven’t really given very much thought to what happens after 4.30 tomorrow afternoon. I usually dive into some crime reading to change the tempo but two of this year’s set texts have been crime fiction so I could do with something different. I have a copy of Naomi Hope’s new novel, The Hiding Game, sitting on my shelf after my punitive visit to Oxford. Maybe that will be the answer.

    • Your brain will be buzzing when the summer school ends so I can see why a complete change of pace/genre would be needed.

  • I reckon that if I did this challenge, 10 would be a good achievement for me too!

    I really must read Shell. Lisa loved it, it has a great cover, and I love the Opera House subject.

    • I’m only going to make it to 10 by switching some of the books I had on my list. Three I had to abandon…

  • I loved Shell… it is a mystery to me that it was passed over for our most prestigious prize, but it seems to be a slow-burner and people are gradually discovering it with delight. The writing, as you say, is beautiful, and the human story lures you in so well. (Especially for those of us caught up in the politics of the Vietnam War).

    I’ve read Andre Brink, I think he’s brilliant, so I won’t be surprised if you want to read more of him. Again, it’s a mystery to me that he never won the Booker though he had two shortlisted books, Rumours of Rain (on my TBR) and An Instant in the Wind (which I have yet to find a copy of).

    • i was completely unaware that Australia had been involved in the Vietnam war (hangs head in shame) so that was quite a revelation for me. I love the way Olsson describes the landscape and the light along the coast….

      • I don’t think you need to hang your head in shame… so little has been written about it and what I know of that has been from the PoV of the veterans – nothing (until Shell) about the heroism of the people who brought the war to an end through their activism.

        • My husband is watching a documentary series about the Vietnam war at the moment (seems to be extremely well done) but no mention of Australia’s involvement at all….

        • LOL if it’s an American film, they regard us as a mere branch office…

        • We’re all mere vassals according to the current leader of that nation….

  • I like the sound of Shell – that does sound interesting, and I’m glad you’re virtually visiting the city this year. The Jeweller has been popping up in my timeline a fair bit recently. Look forward to reading the extract from it next month.

    Ah, those #20BooksOfSummer – I have been distracted from my list, as well, and am wondering if I can make substitutions, or I’ll also be lucky to make it to 10.

    • I think The Jeweller is Welsh Book of the Month for september which maybe why it;s getting visibility. Well worth reading…

      • Ah, could be. Plus, in the run up to publication, it’d be gaining some traction. Thanks – I’ll put it on the list for next month.

        • You can have my copy if you like. I can bring it to the book club meeting

        • That would be great, Karen. Thanks for the offer!

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