Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week?


Your space to discuss the books you are reading and what you think of them

Welcome to this week’s blogpost. Here’s our roundup of your comments and photos from last week.

There must be something in the air. I’m re-reading Wind in the Willows,” says kate king:

I never fail to be enchanted by it, as a countrywoman, gardener and grower. Poor Mole – ‘Oh my oh my oh my’ – and his sardines on toast. But it’s so true that this time of year is magical and entrancing, and it would be so easy to spend hours watching bubbles in a river and the patterns of sunlight and willow leaves. It’s my Spring book – again.

Moving, powerful stuff. I like the dramatic way Smith writes dialogue and how she weaves it into the rest of the tale. I also thought as I read, and not for the first time, that she is one of those writers who demands that her readers do a bit of work as they read.

A mock autobiography of Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle setting out the rise and fall of an early film legend. It’s a hell of a sad story, details an example of how low the gutter press will go to bump up sales and shows where the religious zealots of the USA have their roots, both in condemnation and narrow minded belief. A cracking read.

First published in 1962, the tense and absorbing plot becomes a means to explore and criticise contemporary attitudes in the author’s country, in particular the continuing glorification of the military. Far better than the film (which I saw way back when), it deserves to be reprinted: there is much here about lies and cover-ups among the powerful relevant to our own times.

I cannot recommend it highly enough. Obviously it’s informative and interesting, but it’s also exciting, dramatic, moving, riveting. A tale of high adventure and extraordinary human courage and endurance (natch) which you know actually happened. I gasped, I exclaimed, I cried real tears. Give it a go, you won’t be sorry. (The narrator, Simon Prebble, is outstanding – and I’m rather fussy that way.)

22nd century murder mystery with a backdrop of revenge, corporate intrigue, possibly an alien. I’m about halfway through and it’s a complicated story with many threads but despite being a (very) long book it holds together well and it rolls along at a good pace.

Well worth it despite the ever increasing forays into piety as the book goes on. It was a little strange reading something that was so familiar in other forms: film/tv series/sci-fi iterations etc, but interesting too to see what (such as the Christian piety) that has been mostly or entirely excised from the adaptations. I was left in some awe of Defoe’s imagination, the vivid and detailed way in which he put himself in Crusoe’s place. Not sure if I will tackle the further adventures though.

This Paradise (2019) by Ruby Cowling, a debut short story collection from Boiler House Press. It’s creepy and disquieting, mixing kitchen sink drama with dystopia, technology and eco-activism all resting on a very British landscape drenched with rain. Maybe too many kids for my liking, but it has twins. A good, sturdy collection nicely produced with design by Emily Benton and cover image by Kristy Campbell.

‘I get it.’ I said. ‘You need somebody to insult. Fire away, chum. When it begins to hurt I’ll let you know.’

I’m reading Playback the last Philip Marlowe novel and feeling bereft because there are no more to come.

What your book covers say about you.

An extract from Ian McEwan’s new novel Machines Like Me.

“I don’t really care”: Bret Easton Ellis gives a “chill and neutral” interview to the New Yorker.

The CIA scheme that brought Dr Zhivago to the world. Really.

Tim Parks gives a readers guide to planes, trains, and automobiles.

Continue reading…



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