I managed to read a lot in November. I don’t know how that happened. The month began with a difficulty to finish books and an ambivalence as to what I was in the mood for.
The so-called “reading slump” happened in part ,I think, because October was to regimented; I decided on to many reads with other people and had to many books that I had to get through as they needed to be returned to the library. That puts me off quite simply. I know that. It’s a combination of childlike joy to discuss books with other people and a lutheran stubbornness that doesn’t allow me to return books to the library unread very often that got me in trouble.
I did pick up the pace though; from this pile I will mention my favorites.
- I’m really into Lian Hearn’s new series The tales of Shikanoko. I’ve read three of the four books and cannot wait for the last installment. They are similar to The tales of Otori but more mature and darker. The mythical feudal Japanese landscape has me running on all cylinders. Fantasy has a special place in my heart, always will. The books have also gotten better as the characters have grown up. The story is told from different perspectives and the protagonists end up crossing paths from time to time. It’s basically set up like a Tolstoy novel and that is my other comfort zone so no surprise I’m happy with it.
- The Essex serpent på Sarah Perry has been hyped but I think it lives up to it. It has that victorian setting without being verbose. The writing is airy and very modern so really it’s the best of two worlds. And there is a monster, maybe. Maybe people are the real monsters?
- Speaking of monsters I did take on Beowulf. In the Seamus Heaney translation as it were. It was, as is often the case nowadays, an episode on BBC4 “In our time” that got me interested and that episode, which you can find where you find podcasts, is a very good introduction. I also got the tip about a Youtube clip of Heaney reading it that you can find here. Very atmospheric I must say. But the story told is great for this time of year and there are layers to explore. I forgot that I was reading poetry.
- Gods and Kings by Dana Thomas I have already written about here but I have to say it has grown on me and I might go back and change my Goodreads rating to a 5.
- The tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra was also brilliant. I’m so glad I stumbled upon it through #bookstagram. I had never heard of him or this book but now I’m on the hunt for his previous. The well researched and balanced writing about human lives in the Soviet and post-Soviet society caught hold of me. People, trying to get by, both the winners and the losers. Oh and the dark humour.
- I have already written an ode to Dickens A Christmas Carol. I do love it and it gets me in the mood for the holidays.
The rest of them were OK; A bit disappointed in the Waugh but he isn’t always on top of his game, neither is Barnes but this was his debut so I’ll forgive him. Eileen wasn’t really my cup of tea despite the Manbooker nomination. I liked it fine when I had read it but it left very little impression in hindsight. I don’t think I get Sapho really but there is a great BBC4 “In our time” episode about her too and that’s worth listening to. The Pamuk was handy but I want more. His moods are just the best and I want to get comfortable there for hours on end. Although it might be a good literary appetizer for someone who isn’t familiar with his work.