Reading plans

What I’m Reading : Episode 52, June 2023

What I just finished reading

June marked the beginning of #20booksofsummer so most of the books I’ve been reading lately are from my list.

The most recent read was Mr Mac and Me by Emma Freud, a book I came across because of a recommendation by Susan at mylifeinbooks (at least I think that’s who alerted me to the novel). It features an unusual relationship between the artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the young son of a publican in a village on the Suffolk coast.

It’s a touching book about the power of art to forge friendships.

What I’m reading now

I’ve read two novels by Jon McGregor — Reservoir 13 and Lean, Fall, Stand and both were superb. I’m now halfway through his debut novel If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things which is a quite remarkable narrative about the lives of residents of a quiet London street . We encounter them over the course of a single day, discovering their dreams and hopes for the future, and also their fears.

I’ve just started My Turn To Make The Tea by Monica Dickens about a rookie reporter on a small provincial newspaper. She yearns to handle more demanding stories than village fetes and social events but how can she prove this to her editor? I’m loving the snarky comments about the parochial nature of this newspaper where the editor ignores major stories because they are not on his patch

Is it time to get stuck into treachery, jealousy and passion via Cousin Bette by Honoré de Balzac? Or should I embark on my first experience of José Saramango with his tale of landless peasants in Raised From The Ground?

I also have Kindred by Octavia Butler which is the next book club choice, and the classics club spin result has delivered me an author from Barbados. So I’m spoiled for choice. I fully suspect that when the time comes to pick my next read it will be something I haven’t even mentioned here…..

What I’m Reading is in support of WWW Wednesday  hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words. WWW Wednesday is actually a weekly meme but I choose to do it just once a month.


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

19 thoughts on “What I’m Reading : Episode 52, June 2023

    • Reservoir 13 would be my first choice because it has a strong through story in addition to the lyricism that you’ll find in “Remarkable Themes”. The latter is excellent but it takes a while to get into it

  • wadholloway

    Read Kindred without any fear. It is a fierce discussion about slavery which uses one SF device to enable Butler to write what is effectively historical fiction (not that I don’t love her real SF)

  • I’ve not read Butler, but my Eldest Child thinks very highly of her, so I hope you enjoy this one when you get to it!

    • I’m a little nervous about it because I’m not that much into science fiction

  • I find all the books you mention here quite appetising as reading ideas. I’m looking forward t knowing what you think of them.

    • At the speed at which I am able to do reviews these days, you might be waiting some time to hear what I think!

  • Thanks for the link, Karen. I thought of Mr Mac and Me on my recent trip to Glasgow, admiring the Mackintoshs’ work. Please to hear you enjoyed Jon McGregor’s debut. Have you come across his second novel So Many Ways to Begin? I think you’d like that, too.

    • I don’t have that one – will add to my wish list though because on the strength of the 2 so far that I’ve read and the one I’m reading now, it will definitely be worth discovering

  • Really enjoyed Mr. Mac and Me also; Tom is a wonderful character and the portrayal of Walberswick as seen through his eyes has stuck with me. I’d be very torn between the Balzac and Saramago books, and might very well go off and read something else!

    • I wasn’t keen on it to begin with – I feared it would be too simplistic but delighted to be proved wrong. The blurb on my copy is misleading though – it implies that the villagers are suspicious of Mac for a long time but that only emerges in the last 50 pages

  • I have heard good things about Reservoir 13.
    Balzac is always a good bet (lol, sorry, couldn’t refrain). I have only read Blindness by Saramago, but was really impressed. Enjoy your summer readings.
    I’m currently devouring the latest by Fred Vargas – not yet in English

  • That is a very tough choice, between Saramago and Balzac, but on balance, I think I’d go for Saramgo and that particular title is well worth reading.
    I love Jon McGregor’s books, I’ve read both of those and Reservoir 13 in particular stayed in my mind. And Monica Dickens, that’s a blast from the past. I haven’t read that particular one, but my mother had some of her books and they were all very funny.

    • I’ve dipped into the Saramango – yep I think its going to be a good one.
      The Monica Dickens is so funny – my own experience as a junior reporter wasn’t quite as bad as her characters but there was still plenty for my husband (who worked for the same newspaper) to reminisce over with me

  • It is nice that you can read different books at once, or it seems as such. I am one book at a time and a very slow reader. I am also committed to doing summer reading but of late, I seem stuck on just one book, I am hoping to be done with it as it’s been more than two weeks reading this same book and it may take me into next week to finish it and to move on to another. I don’t know why I bother. Something to do I imagine; and I have been working on completing this puzzle that we started; it is a stickler with very small pieces; too many to put together as it is time-consuming and I will need to purchase a magnifying glass for reading and doing puzzles. I am sorry if sounding vague.

    • Well if you are not enjoying the experience of reading that book or it feels like a chore, then wy not give it up and read something more enjoyable???


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