Reading Horizons: Episode 10

Reading Horizons, 22 August 2018

What are you currently reading

Line of BeautyI’m reading The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst because it won the Booker Prize in 2004. I’m down to the last four in my project to read all the winners. I’ve found Hollinghurst’s book a bit of a struggle to the extent that I debated more than once whether to give up on the novel.  Consequently it has taken me weeks to get to within the last 100 pages. To be fair it improved in the second half but it will never get on my list of favourite Booker winners.

Bloomsbury describe it as “a sweeping novel about class, sex, and money during four extraordinary years of change and tragedy.” The years of change is a reference to the fact the book is set during the ‘reign’ of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister. There’s a tremendous amount of sex in this book – the central character is either thinking about it or engaged in the act – which would disturb many readers I suspect. My biggest beef about the book is that it was just boring for a large part of the time.

What did you recently finish reading

Beartown by Fredrick Backman

BeartownThis was the selection for one of my book clubs this month. The contrast with Line of Beauty could not be greater. Beartown is set in a small Swedish town that’s seen better days. The locals are crazy about ice hockey and pinning their hopes that their highly talented junior hockey team win national honours, a success that can herald an economic revival for their community. All is going great until suddenly a terrible incident changes everything, setting one part of the community directly at odds with another.

Enjoyable to read though I think I know as much as I need to about ice hockey for now.

What will you be reading next? 

This is usually a difficult question for me since I don’t like to plan too far in advance. But I have to this week because I’m off on holiday at the weekend and so will need to decide what comes with me in my luggage.

There is one title that will definitely be making the trip to Germany.

Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love was selected for me as a result of the Classics Club spin and which, the ‘rules’ say I need to read by August 31.


Another possible companion is the book I bought today.  Lullaby by Leila Slimani is next month’s book club. The Guardian newspaper tells me that “This tense, deftly written novel about a perfect nanny’s transition into a monster will take your breath away.”  I’m hesitating though because it’s not a very long novel.

On the e-reader I have the latest novel by Andrew Miller, author of Pure, which I thought was an outstanding novel.  Now We Shall Be Entirely Free, begins on a winter’s night in 1809 when a naval captain fresh from a campaign against Napolean’s forces, is carried unconscious into a house. He is traumatised by what he witnessed in that campaign. Miller is superb at re-creating the past so I’m looking forward to reading this.

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?


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

29 thoughts on “Reading Horizons: Episode 10

  • ‘ I think I know as much as I need to about ice hockey for now.’ made me laugh 😉 Deciding what to take away is tricky, many a time I’ve ended up buying something as I’ve taken the wrong book for my state of mind/concentration span while away.

    • I probably agonise more over what books to take than what clothes to pack!

  • Judy Krueger

    As I have mentioned before, I did not think much of The Line of Beauty and it sounds like you feel the same. I was one of the only people on earth who hated Beartown. I thought “the terrible incident that changes everything” was handled by a hamfisted writer who is always telling you what to think. But no one agrees with me.
    I last finished Straight Man by Richard Russo. It was long, sometimes got laughs out of me, but ultimately nothing too special. Now I am reading a PK Dick book from 1964 called Clans of the Aphane Moon. He hasn’t grabbed me yet but he usually always finally does. My next book is up in the air at this point. I am in a bit of a slump.
    Enjoy your vacation! I think I need one.

    • Hm sorry but I don’t think it was hamfisted. I did think he took too much time to get to the terrible incident. The aftermath was more interesting and warranted more space

  • buriedinprint

    What a curious combination of story-telling styles you have here! I have never read an Alan Hollinghurst but I heard him interviewed locally a couple of years ago and enjoyed the excerpt he read – which was laden with all kinds of ordinary detail, which worked in that moment – and wonder if maybe I will enjoy his prose more having heard him deliver it. That was true for me with Peter Carey – once I heard him read Ned Kelly, I was interested in the novel but had kept stalling until then. Same with Sebastian Barry. Enjoy your holiday, and whatever you end up reading, and congrats on having only three more novels to read. What do you have in mind to celebrate your completing the project?

    • How to celebrate ending the project? What a good question – one I’ve not really thought about so far. I should do something shouldn’t I. Glass of champagne maybe??

  • I hope you have better luck with The Pursuit of Love than I did. The characters irritated me to the point of explosion. I couldn’t go on and read Love in a Cold Climate. The thought of spending another moment with them was too much to bear. Have a great holiday. The Bears want a postcard🐻!

    • Oh no I hope that doesn’t prove to be my experience with Mitford…..

  • I will definitely avoid The Line of Beauty! I own Bear Town and have loved the other 4 books written by him that I have read. This one sounds as if it may be different from those… I haven’t even had time to participate in the Classics Club Spin for quite awhile now. That is fun! To see what you read next!

    • I hadn’t heard of the author until Beartown came my way but he seems to have been successful so far and I can’t see this is going to do anything but cement that success

  • I have Line of Beauty and Beartown in the TBR stack. I’m reading writers that will be at the Melbourne Writers Festival at the moment…sure I will buy a few more books at the Festival as well!

    • Oh I think its a cert that you will come away from that festival with more books.

  • Never read Hollinghurst and tbh I’m not sure I feel any greatnurge to! I’m currently reading Orphic Paris by Henri Cole which is gorgeous. Who knows what next? Like you, I don’t like to plan! 🤣🤣

  • I found the Hollinghurst slow going as well. I don’t think I have ever go round to any Mitford, which is something I intend to redress one day – hope you enjoy it. Looks as if it might be one of those novels that was very much of its time if you know what I mean.

    • Nearly at the end with Hollinghurst though I can’t see how its going to be wrapped up since it hasn’t been building in tension so far….

  • Big support for the Mitford, the Slimani AND the Miller – all great.

    • Wonderful to know my next few reads are going to be good ones

  • I agree with you about The Line of Beauty. Overrated, for me, and far too long. I hope you enjoy the new Miller. I loved it. I think his historical fiction is very much better than is his contemporary novels.

    • Phew, I thought I was alone in not liking Line of Beauty. I’ve not found any of Miller’s contemporary work – what has he written?

      • Oxygen, The Optimists, The Crossing – all of which I’ve enjoyed but not nearly as much as Ingenious Pain, Pure or Now We Shall Be Entirely Free.

        • I’ve not come across Ingenious Pain but will now have to look for it

  • Bear Town is one of the books on my TBR pile.

    • It’s very readable though I thought could have been trimmed a little. He’s already written another novel set in the same location and with some of the same characters

  • I’m curious about The Line of Beauty…and Bear Town. I enjoyed Lullaby (The Perfect Nanny).

    Thanks for sharing your week!

    • You’ll like Beartown I think Laurel but I wouldn’t spend time on Line of Beauty


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