Reading Horizons: Episode 13

Reading Horizons,  12 December, 2018

What are you currently reading? 

I have multiple books on the go at the moment.

I’m meant to be reading A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James because it is one of only two unread titles in my Booker prize project. However, I’m finding it hard going because it has so many different characters (75 in total), several of whom pop up at different points to tell their part of the story. I keep forgetting who all these people are and have to refer to the character list to discover whether the current narrator is the local CIA head, a Colombian drug gang member, a hooker or a journalist. Adding to the difficulty is that parts of the narration are in Jamaican patois. So it’s not the ideal novel to read late at night…..

Which is why I’m also reading The Next Big Thing by Anita Brookner. It’s another of her intense character portraits about loneliness and characters who long for something else in their lives. Hertz Fritz has led a very unremarkable life. Now 73 years old he ponders what he is going to do with the time he has remaining. He could leave London and move to Paris. He could become a regular guest on a chat show about art. He could remarry. He knows he needs to do something. But what???  He’s such a ditherer that I want to shake him out of his apathy and his constant worries about his health.

I’m also continuing to read Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. It’s packed so full of information that I’m not able to absorb more than a few pages at a time. It’s fascinating however. I’ve learned why caffeine is absolutely the last thing you want to ingest in the evening (it blocks the hormone that tells us we need to sleep), and what happens during the different phases of sleep.

What did you recently finish reading? 

I’d never heard of Elizabeth Jolley until I saw her mentioned by Lisa at ANZ LitLovers LitBlog who held an Elizabeth Jolley reading week earlier this year. She sounded so good I immediately bought two of her books.

The first – Sugar Daddy was extremely funny at times but the humour was nicely balanced with some disquieting themes. I had high expectations that my other purchase Miss Peabody’s Inheritance would be just as enjoyable. And I have certainly not been disappointed.

This is a novel within a novel about Miss Peabody, a lonely middle-aged spinster who has a boring office job and lives with her overbearing, bedridden mother. The only excitement in her life is a correspondence she begins with a writer of romance novels in Australia. Through the letters Miss Peabody is drawn into the world of the author’s newest novel. My review of this book will follow soonish….

What do you think you’ll read next?

It’s going to take me a few weeks to finish the Marlon James I suspect but in the meantime I have the next book club choice to read by early in January. We’ve chosen The Librarian by Salley Vickers. The description tells me this is about a new children’s librarian in the small town of East Mole who is on a mission to improve the lives of local children by giving them just the right books. Then she begins a scandalous affair with a married doctor. Not sure about the romance aspect of this but if this book features books then it has to be worth reading doesn’t it? 

Reading Horizons is linked to WWWednesday, a meme  hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It involves answering 3 questions:

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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 December 12, 2018, in Australian authors, Bookends, British authors, Man Booker Prize and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. So glad you enjoyed your second foray into Elizabeth Jolley. I haven’t been disappointed in a Jolley yet. I’ve written three “Favourite writers” posts early in my blog, and she was the second of them. I’ve been wondering about writing a fourth, but also wonder how many favourites I’m allowed to have! I think more than three, though, so I really should do some more. Anyhow, do keep reading her every now and then if you can. I’d recommend The newspaper of Claremont Street” as one to read early on in your reading of her. And, of course, her most famous one is probably “The well”.

    As for The librarian. It sounds like a lovely read, but I think I’ve done Vickers, I’m afraid. I’ve read one or two and don’t think she has enough bite for me to keep reading her in the face of all the books out there I want to read.

  2. I’d like to read Why We Sleep. I recently gave up alcohol for 6 weeks and the first thing I noticed was the improvement in the quality of my sleep!

  3. This morning I finished Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver. I love all her books unconditionally, I guess others are not so besotted. I don’t care. It was great! Today I will start a 1964 book called The Little Girls by Elizabeth Bowen. As for the absolutely not brief Brief History of Seven Killings, I found it challenging but it is a book I will never forget!

    • How far into 7 killings did you get before it began to fall into place Judy?

      • Quite a while. My records show it took me several weeks to get through it with pauses to read other novels. I was tolerant because I wanted to know the story of Bob Marley though the book is about much more than that. I finally stopped being annoyed by all the dialect, I think I kept a list of characters until I figured out the relationships between them and then I was away. I might even have gone back and started it again after realizing I was expected to pay closer attention-:)

        • The dialect isn’t bothering me at all, I find I can get to grips with it fairly easily. But I must admit my reading of this book has stalled – I went in search of something less demanding for my frazzled brain

  4. I have so many books on the go right now I can’t even remember what all of them are! Library holds all arriving at the same time. Eeek! I really want to read A Brief History sometime, especially since James teaches at a local university. I am going to be asking Santa for a big box of reading time in my stocking 🙂

    • I would happily trade all the candles and chocolate gifts for that gift of time – what a wonderful idea. Even though I don’t have the excuse of having to work, I still struggle to find enough time in the day just to get out a book

  5. The Next Big Thing sounds good…but A Brief History would drive me crazy, with all those characters, especially when they show up at random moments. LOL. Enjoy your week, and here’s MY WWW POST

  6. I admire you for persisting with the Marlon James. I quit around page 3. I dislike novels that offer dialogue mostly in patois. Plus I read reviews about the very graphic gay sex, and decided I could live without this one.

  7. The Librarian sounds interesting. I love books about books. I recently read Michelle Obama’s wonderful book, Becoming. And at present I’m reading Lucy at Sea, an MG Fantasy by Barbara Mariconda.

  8. wow, 75 characters??!! Just added Why We Sleep to my TBR, thanks

  9. 75 characters is a *lot* to juggle. I’m coping with the franticness of this time of year by wallowing in Golden Age crime… 😉

  10. I’ll be interested to hear what you think about The Librarian as it’s caught my eye on several occasions, because of the subject matter and because I’ve enjoyed previous books by the author – Miss Garnet’s Angel and Mr Golightly”s Holiday. I also have The Cleaner of Chartres in my TBR pile.

    Here’s my WWW link:

  11. I’m with Liz where Vickers is concerned. I have had a very mixed response to her books. I really enjoyed The Other Side of You, but have been either lukewarm or positive anti some of her other work. I’m afraid not even the fact that this one is set in a library is going to get me reading it.

    • It wasn’t my choice – the group vote went against me. And unlike certain parts of the Westminster political bubble I shall not be asking for another referendum….

  12. I would certainly need to be wide awake for the James. Good luck with finishing it. I’ve not read Why We Need Sleep but learned a useful tip about alcohol when dealing with a bout of insomnia: it may help get you to sleep but once the effects wear off you’ll be wide awake again. I’ve learned never to have more than two glasses of wine in an evening.

  13. I’m really not sure about the Salley Vickers as I’ve disliked two of her other books! I’m currently reading DE Stevenson’s “Spring Fever” which is absolutely CHARMING (out from Dean Street Press next month) and I am going on a trip tomorrow so will read something from my Kindle, possibly Malala’s dad’s book. I’ve recently finished “The Icelandic Adventures of Pike Ward” but have yet to review it – another high scorer (this is why I do best of the year posts at the very end of the year!).

    • The only one I read by her is the Cleaner of Chartres which felt a very ‘thin’ novel to me. It wasn’t poor but certainly not one that made me feel I wanted to read more by this author. What a curious book the Icelandic Adventures sounds to be – from a fisher merchant to a knight is certainly a big career progression.. Have a lovely trip Liz

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