Autumn reads

One thing I know for sure is that I’ve got an awful lot of reading to get through over the next couple of months.  I’ve never been much of a one for celebrating Hallowe’en, but so many people are getting excited about their spooky reads this year I really feel I should join in the fun.  Then before you know it you’re onto the question of when is too soon to start on the Christmas fiction…I waited until December last year and found I’d left it far too late to get through all the snowy, sparkle-encrusted books I’d bought the month before.   I also have an immense dislike of anything Christmassy once Christmas is over, with the result that I’m still waiting to find out whodunit in British Library Classic “The Santa Klaus Murder” as I failed to finish it last festive season and my slight obsessive streak wouldn’t allow me to carry on with it in January…

Before any of that, though, there are a few enticing books on my radar right now.  I’ve just finished “Painter of Silence”, an understated but quietly striking novel – the review will be up on Girl, Reading soon.  In progress at the moment is “Passion” by the criminally under-read Jude Morgan, a big beast of a novel featuring some of the greatest literary love affairs of all time, and next up is the much talked-about “His Bloody Project”.  I have to say that the Man Booker shortlist has almost no appeal for me this year; this is the only one I’m tempted to try, but I keep hearing good things about it so am hopeful of an enjoyable read.  For non-fiction I have “Weatherland”, which is shaping up to be an absolutely fascinating look at how writers and artists since ancient times have responded to the British weather in their work.   With any luck I will have finished it in time to start Antonia Fraser’s history of the Gunpowder Plot by the time November 5th comes round, but that may too much of an ask!

All being well there will be some more reviews for you all soon, but in the meantime, happy reading!

Would like to meet…

Have you ever found a book you’ve absolutely adored and been desperate to talk about, only to find that there doesn’t appear to be a single other person who’s read it?  On today’s blog I’m attempting to rectify that situation by sharing the few remaining favourites of mine that I’ve never yet been able to discuss with anyone!  If you’ve come across any of these I would love to know – there must be somebody else out there who’s read them!

  • “The Minotaur takes a Cigarette Break” by Steven Sherrill – a pretty bonkers conceit (the Minotaur is alive and well and working in an American diner) forms the basis for what turns out to be an affecting story. It’s quirky, yes, but its bizarre concept never distracts from the very human tale the author wants to tell.
  • “The Hound in the left-hand Corner” by Giles Waterfield – this witty novel centres on the preparations for a high-profile exhibition at a fictional museum, and the slightly dubious nature of the event’s pièce de résistance. Verging on farce at times, it’s nevertheless a pretty cutting satire on the self-aggrandising museum world.
  • “Symphony” by Jude Morgan – I know there are plenty of historical fiction fans out there so I would put good money on someone having read this! I’ve mentioned it on the blog before but I’m putting it out there again today because it’s just so good: the story of Hector Berlioz and his love affair with the actress Harriet Smithson will warm your heart…and then break it.
  • “The Piano Teacher” by Lynn York – this is a warm, gently humorous novel set in a small town American community. It’s very like Adriana Trigiani’s Big Stone Gap series, and I’ve always thought it’s a shame more people who enjoyed those didn’t go on to read this.
  • “What is the what” by Dave Eggers – he’s such a big author it’s always surprised me that I’ve never met anyone else who’s read this particular one; on the other hand, I’ve never read any of his others which a lot of people have, so I’ve obviously plumped for his least popular! In any case, it’s superb, telling the story of a survivor of the Sudanese civil war as he recounts those incredibly dark times from his new life in the United States.

If anyone out there enjoyed any of these books it would make my day!  If not, well, I hope at least I’ve given you some ideas of things to try.  Until next time…