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.

Round of applause for SydneyH who has finished all 900 pages of the 18th Century classic Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, “a titanic effort”:

Fielding reads more like a contemporary of Dickens than of his period, except that he is every bit as coarse as his Irish counterparts. In particular, there is a case of incest that is so gratuitous and unnecessary to the plot, that I couldn’t possibly be more pleased with it than I am. There are occasional witticisms to make the prose entertaining, like the remark that Squire Western “had no more apprehension of his daughter’s falling in love with a poor man than with any animal of a different species”. The novel doesn’t quite take off until Jones meets Partridge, who is very much the Sancho Panza to his Don Quixote, but I still think it is a worthy addition to my Finally Read List.

Mrs Glozboy read it when it came out and we both loved the film, so I thought I would give it a go. I’ve been utterly gripped. I know I’m enjoying a book when I look at the page number and am surprised that I’ve read over 50 pages in one session!

It took a while to get into it; the narrator is, understandably, obsessed with visual effects which he describes in kind of notebook style I thought I could take or leave. Only gradually does his personality start to become clear – he’s both a self-obsessed monster and in his own way rather lovable. There are some great characters, a lively London setting just before the second world war, and some brilliant comic set-pieces, but by the end it’s become a tragedy. I read another novel by Cary, Mister Johnson, about an African poet, so long ago I don’t remember it well. But on the strength of The Horse’s Mouth he seems to me a great, more-or-less-forgotten novelist.

I was immediately grabbed by Murakami’s Kafkaesque, dream-like prose and am now, at only chapter nine, utterly absorbed by the mystery and despair of the book’s narrator. I suspect I’ll reading more of Murakami’s oeuvre in the coming years.

I didn’t really think I needed another book about books in my life, but it turns out I did. This is about the author spending a year reading all the classics he’s lied about reading in the past. Miller’s self-deprecating style was right up my street. I was snorting with laughter when he quoted the end of Chekov’s Uncle Vanya (“… we shall work for others without rest, both now and when we are old … we shall say that we have suffered and wept, that our life was bitter …) and then adds how he’s always tempted to write this in the comments box of his work appraisal form.

One of the most wonderful books I have read in a long while… What beautiful, intelligent, elegant writing. This reminded me of Ishiguro at his best. (I am prepared to accept being the only one here seeing this connection.) Images from The English Patient (I hardly remember the book, while the film, which I saw much longer ago, is still vivid) and Un Taxi Pour Tobrouk flashed before my eyes. The effortlessness with which she switches perspective is truly remarkable. The characters are so well drawn… I was enthralled.

I’ve just finished The Overstory. I totally loved it. I want to sell all my possessions and go plant some trees. It is the first Richard Powers book I’ve read. Will be searching out some more.

Insightful and poetic, with barely-disguised references on society. It has pertinence to today’s societal maladies.

This is very fine popular science. It respects the reader with its careful unfussy attention to detail – its scrupulous recording of how young birds embark on their fearful existence or territories are defended and life is often so bitterly relinquished amid the endless struggles to survive. Following the journeys of the migrants and the resident species has been so illuminating and fascinating. There is a surfeit of remarkable information and the imagination can revel in the thought of Nightingales hiding in the bushes of Senegal and The Gambiaon their southward journeys or Cuckoos in their winter quarters deep in the Congo forests. It gave me hope that somehow something in nature continues to work – even as the threats to whole ecosystems redouble with each passing year.

Jane Austen of BBC Radio 4’s Great Lives programme.

“Our current royal family doesn’t have the difficulties in breeding that pandas do, but pandas and royal persons alike are expensive to conserve and ill-adapted to any modern environment. But aren’t they interesting?” So asks Hilary Mantel.

Inside the Elite World of National Spelling Bee Competitors.

A copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio will soon go on display in Battersea. “Such opportunities to gawp must be seized,” says Michael Caines in the TLS.

A computer game that invites you to shred a real paper book.

Ten books “that dare to imagine how society collides with the future” have been shortlisted for the new Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards.

Continue reading…



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