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I've had a bad cold all of this year so far (it almost goes away, leaving me just tired and sniffly for a couple of days, then slowly builds back to the feverish/achy/can't-sleep phase, then back round the cycle) so not having much physical energy, I've been spending lots of time reading. Inspired by [livejournal.com profile] triskellian posting a list of everything she read last year, here's what I've read so far this one. Non-fiction first (not much of it, as I haven't had the brainpower to tackle any science books) followed by fiction in alphabetical order, with a high trash quotient owing to the aforementioned feverish cold.

Barbarians by Terry Jones. Entertaining popular history and an interesting look at cultures trashed by the Romans. No idea how accurate it is, but it was a great read and got me thinking, so I'd recommend it.

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose (I believe that really is her name). A useful tour of literary tricks and tips. However it's full of quotations, some of them pages long, so is largely the author introducing you to her favourite bits of writing. Which was fine for me as our tastes overlap; some of it was stuff I already know and was happy to be reminded of, and I may actually follow up some of the other recommended reading.

Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong. Witches / sorcerers / necromancers etc. Well plotted and paced and held my attention. I'm not sure I'd have bought it, but it was fun and I'm glad I borrowed it from the library.

Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas de Quincey. I'd been ploughing through this for ages and finally finished it. Must learn to give up on books I'm not enjoying. Confirmed that reading about other people's dreams is Not Interesting. At least I can now kick it off my shelves and in the direction of a charity shop, where I am sure it will get sent off to be made into cat litter.

The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald. Excellent prose and lots of period detail (although it did feel at times like she was showing off her research, rather than all the details being a natural part of the story). It struck some surprising chords for me, as I once had to visit a mine near Leipzig myself (I recommend Leipzig nightlife!). Most of the way through I would have said I wasn't really engaging with the characters, but it did make me cry at the end. Her writing generally feels too detached for me to properly enjoy it though.

Too Many Magicians by Randall Garrett. Have finished this but can't say what I think until after the next book group :)

Sex, Lies and Vampires by Katie MacAllister. I picked this up in the library because the cover amused me. I shouldn’t have.

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. Don't know how I hadn't read this before. It took me a couple of chapters to get into, but then I was completely gripped and sat up late into the night with it. This really succeeded in transporting me to another time and place.

Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym. Her first book and perhaps the freshest and funniest. I can (and do) read these books over and over and spot new subleties every time. If you like understated social comedy I highly recommend Barbara Pym; if you find Jane Austen a struggle, they won't be for you.

Downpour by Kat Richardson. Competent paranormal thriller. However, she admits in the afterword that she used a real location and lots of real names, and nicked the plot of a Dashiell Hammett novel, so there isn't a huge amount of her own intellectual input, which feels slightly like cheating.

The Choir by Joanna Trollope. More devious plotting than her usual, but the characterisation suffers. Not her finest work.

Date: 2012-01-16 01:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bateleur.livejournal.com
Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose (I believe that really is her name).

Fantastic! I'm almost tempted to buy the book for that reason alone.

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