Monday, October 31, 2011

{one book, two books... redux}

I loved Simon's quiz on Stuck in a Book the first time, back in May. Let's have another go:

1. The book I'm currently reading.
I have a lot of books on the go at once, but I'm closest to finishing (one in my study and one in the loo) these two rather different books: The Complete Book of Aunts by Rupert Christiansen (2006) and Pierre Frei's Berlin (2005).

They are different in genre (commonplace book/anthology vs. crime fiction) and other things (e.g., Berlin is a translation from German), but their biggest difference is quality: Berlin is a unputdownable story of a series of murders set in immediate post-war Berlin. It offers an interesting twist by tracing the lives of the victims from roughly ten years before the crime up to the circumstances that led to their being in that particular place at that specific time. It is an excellent and intelligent thriller.

The Complete Book of Aunts, which seemed so promisingly amusing when I saw it in a secondhand store, achieved the fate of relegation to the bathroom, where books go to die force me to finish them in the absence of anything else to read. It is superficial and pretty sloppy in content. It needed a good editor and it certainly is not "The Complete Book of Aunts", given that the author claims very early on that there is no adjectival equivalent of 'avuncular' for aunts. Um, yes there is: materteral. Wouldn't you at least Google if you were interested in auntly completeness? It also contains sentences that should never have made it into print, such as: "After she died, Virginia wrote a memoir of Caroline Emelia..." Clever woman, Virgina Woolf, writing from beyond the grave... As I said, s-l-o-p-p-y.
2. The last book I finished:

The last book I finished was very enjoyable: Tess Gerritsen's The Silent Girl (2011). It was a crime novel too (I seem to be wallowing in crime at the moment) and the current last in the Rizzoli/Isles police procedurals by Tess Gerritsen. I had read none of her books before I read the other Simon's review of Keeping the Dead. Next thing I knew I had consumed the entire series in two weeks and was living in fear that even locked doors and windows won't keep out a serial killer who wanted nothing more than to mummify me for posterity. OK, I exaggerate a little, but these books are totally addictive, well-written and full of moments that are so frightening you will need to go and turn on all the lights and hide under the bed. For some reason there was always a gruesome autopsy scene just when I wanted to have dinner. I haven't read much along these lines since I gave up with Patricia Cornwell when her plots and characters got so ridiculous they made me laugh instead of tremble in fear, but I thoroughly recommend Gerritsen if you want to be scared out of your wits. My only quibble is that why is it generally women who meet gruesome and graphically described ends (and from women writers)? This article gave me pause for thought (and somewhere recently I've read something else about book jackets on these books always featuring anonymous chunks of naked women, but I can't find the link; I don't think it was this). Of course, Gerritsen does provide balance with her strong female protagonists who defy victimization.

3. The next book(s) I want to read:

Non-fiction? Rosemary Auchmuty's A World of Women: Growing Up in the Girls' School Story (1999). Why? I enjoyed her first book on this theme, about the elaborate worlds created in girls' stories set in schools.
Fiction?  Mary Wesley's The Camomile Lawn (1984). Why? Love books set in the 1930s/Second World War.
Crime-fiction? Imogen Robertson's Anatomy of Murder (2011) - I enjoyed the first one in the series.

4. The last book I bought:

Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (2008). Yes, I'm about two (and the rest) years behind on what everyone else has read. I like it that way.

5. The last book I was given:

As I was leaving work one day, a lady in the lobby was handing out the Friendly Street Poetry Reader 26 (eds. Ioana Petrescu and David Adès, 2002). Many passersby looked a little suspicious that someone was giving away (a) anything and (b) poetry and (c) something not involving enrolment in a religious cult or pyramid selling scheme. There was a lot of Don't Make Eye Contact going on. But the Friendly Street Poets are an Adelaide institution: a poetry collective established way back in 1975. They hold poetry readings, open mike nights and so on, and publish anthologies of their members' work. Poetry is food for the soul, so here's a taste:
To be a moth, once more, at the lamp
of a woman's eyes; seeking that flame
in the knowledge of cinders; and the
darkness when the lamp is turned away...
(excerpt from David Adès, 'To Hazard This')


  1. Thanks for playing! I enjoyed the DVD of The Camomile Lawn, but haven't got it or read it...

    And I love the idea of books going to die in the bathroom! I tend to work my way through collected letters or diaries there...

  2. I read duller non-fiction there too, but diaries are a great idea. I should take Harold Nicolson in there. Not that he's dull.


{READ IN 2017}

  • 23.
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  • 20. The Murder on the Enriqueta - Molly Thynne
  • 19. The Nowhere Man - Gregg Hurwitz
  • 18. He Dies and Makes No Sign - Molly Thynne
  • 17. Death in the Dentist's Chair - Molly Thynne
  • 16. The Crime at the 'Noah's Ark' - Molly Thynne
  • 15. Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh
  • 14. Night School - Lee Child
  • 13. The Dancing Bear - Frances Faviell
  • 12. The Reluctant Cannibals - Ian Flitcroft
  • 11. Fear Stalks the Village - Ethel Lina White
  • 10. The Plot - Irving Wallace
  • 9. Understood Betsy - Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • 8. Give the Devil his Due - Sulari Gentill
  • 7. A Murder Unmentioned - Sulari Gentill
  • 6. Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
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  • 2. Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul - H. G. Wells
  • 1. Heft - Liz Moore

{READ IN 2016}

  • (K = Kindle; rr = re-read)
  • 92. Richardson's First Case - Basil Thomson [K]
  • 91. The Alington Inheritance - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 90. Orphan X - Gregg Hurwitz [K]
  • 89. The House of Godwinsson [Bobby Owen 24] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 88. Music Tells All [Bobby Owen 24] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 87. Helen Passes By [Bobby Owen 23] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 86. It Might Lead Anywhere [Bobby Owen 22] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 85. There's a Reason for Everything [Bobby Owen 21] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 84. Secrets Can't Be Kept [Bobby Owen 20] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 83. Night's Cloak [Bobby Owen 19] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 82. The Conqueror Inn [Bobby Owen 18] - E. R. Punshon [K]
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  • 80. The Dark Garden [Bobby Owen 16] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 79. Picture Miss Seeton - Heron Carvic [K]
  • 78. Down Under (Benbow Smith 4) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 77. Walk with Care (Benbow Smith 3) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 76. Danger Calling (Benbow Smith 2) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 75. Fool Errant (Benbow Smith 1) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 74. The Annam Jewel - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 73. Mr Zero - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 72. Will o' the Wisp - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 71. Red Shadow - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 70. Pursuit of a Parcel (Lamb 3) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 69. Who Pays the Piper (Lamb 2) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 68. The Blind Side (Lamb 1) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 67. Outrageous Fortune - Patricia Wentworth [K]
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  • 63. Anne Belinda - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 62. The Black Cabinet - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 61. Hue & Cry - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 60. The Skin Collector - Jeffery Deaver [K]
  • 59. The Kill Room - Jeffery Deaver [K]
  • 58. Nothing Venture - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 57. Kingdom Lost - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 56. Beggar's Choice - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 55. Hole and Corner - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 54. Touch and Go - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 53. The Red Lacquer Case - Patricia Wentworth [K]
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  • 44. Hack - Kieran Crowley [K]
  • 43. The Portable Veblen - Elizabeth McKenzie [K]
  • 42. The Spirit Murder Mystery - Robin Forsythe [K]
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  • 41. The Ginger Cat Mystery - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 40. The Pleasure Cruise Mystery - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 39. The Polo Ground Murder - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 38. The Outsider - Jason Dean [K]
  • 37. The Hunter's Oath - Jason Dean [K]
  • 36. Missing or Murdered - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 35. The Beetle - Richard Marsh [K]
  • 34. A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell 1) - Deanna Raybourn [K]
  • 33. The Chimera Vector - Nathan M. Farrugia [K]
  • 32. An Infamous Army - Georgette Heyer [K]
  • 31. Mr Bazalgette's Agent - Leonard Merrick
  • 30. Don't Tell - Karen Rose [K]
  • 29. Say Goodbye - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 28. Gone - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 27. The Killing Hour - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 26. The Next Accident - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 25. The Third Victim - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 24. The Perfect Husband - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 23. Find Her - Lisa Gardner [K]
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  • 20. Love You More - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 19. Live to Tell - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 18. The Neighbour - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 17. Hide - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 16. Alone - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 15. The Humans - Matt Haig [K]
  • 14. Utopian Man - Lisa Lang
  • 13. Love Insurance - Earl Derr Biggers [K]
  • 12. The Ignition Effect - Viv Ronnebeck [K]
  • 11. My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin [K]
  • 10. Dangerous & Unseemly - K. B. Owen [K]
  • 9. In Bitter Chill - Sarah Ward [K[
  • 8. Half a Crown - Jo Walton [K]
  • 7. Ha'penny - Jo Walton [K]
  • 6. Hilda Wade: A Woman with Tenacity of Purpose - Grant Allen [K]
  • 5. The Case of William Smith - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 4. Blue Murder - Harriet Rutland [K]
  • 3. Bleeding Hooks - Harriet Rutland [K]
  • 2. Knock, Murderer, Knock! - Harriet Rutland [K]
  • 1. Ten Star Clues [Bobby Owen 15] - E. R. Punshon [K]