Readerly Rambles: 08/05/2011

What I’ve Finished:

My reading has been clipping along at a lovely pace — well, for me at least — and I’ve finished several books in the past month:

  • Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner:  You can read my belated International Brookner Day post here.  I’ll certainly be revisiting this author, as I really enjoyed her writing style.  I’m a fan of witty observations paired with quintessentially British characters. 
  • The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett:  This nonfiction book is about John Gilkey, a man who has stolen over $200,000 worth of rare books and other items.  I was intrigued by the Bartlett’s extensive interviews with Gilkey, her chronicling of his thievery and upbringing, the depth of her explanations of the rare book world, and her interviews with Ken Sanders (the rare book dealer who caught Gilkey).  However, I think this book lacked a certain amount of depth.  Hoover repeatedly discusses Gilkey’s delusional outlook on life, his desire to “make” his image through book thieving, and his belief that he deserved these stolen goods.  She strongly emphasizes that he seems to have a mental break with reality.  HOWEVER, at no point does she discuss his issues/history with mental health professionals.  The book is a fast and enticing read despite its flaws; I finished the book while sitting in the movie theater awaiting the midnight showing of Harry Potter 7.2.
  • Elizabeth I by Margaret George:  Margaret George is my new author crush.  This is the first book I’ve read by George even though she has been on my TBR pile for ages.  It took a good 50 pages or so for me to get into the book, but once I was in there I didn’t want to come up for air!  What I liked most about the novel is that it begins with the Spanish Armada (Drake representin’) and covers Elizabeth’s later rule and death.  Most books seem to focus on the young Elizabeth and it was fascinating to read a novelization of her later life.  You must read this book!
  • The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories:  I’ve actually been reading this book off and on since December 2009!  This large volume is filled to bursting with deliciously creepy ghost stories.  Let’s just say I will NEVER play hide’n’seek in a house at night EVER (sorry kids). 
  • Interlibrary Loan and Document by Lee Andrew Hilyer:  this was a ridiculously concise book on ILL.  I think it is for folks who are totally unacquainted with interlibrary loan.  I picked up one or two things.  Yes, I read it for work and yes, it was infinitely dull.

What I’m Reading:

I have two books going at the moment:

  • A Word Child by Iris Murdoch: I adore Iris Murdoch, but I haven’t picked up a Murdoch book in ages.  I’m about 100 pages in and all of my favorite Murdochisms are present – pitiful and unlikable characters to which, oddly, I find myself liking, phenomenal feats of language play, wit, dashes of mystery, and dear god her powers of description.  I can’t put my finger on why I love her character descriptions so.  There earthy and real; her descriptions of people have this animal quality.  I’m on a mission to find the perfect description to illustrate this aspect of her writing.  More on that in the soonish future.
  • Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin:  This is my secondary read.  This book is planted in the nursery by the rocking chair for when I’m nursing and rocking Atticus.  I’ve only read the first chapter of this novel about Lewis Carroll and his Alice, Alice Liddell.  I haven’t read as much because I’ve developed a habit of dozing when rocking the baby.  I’m intrigued by the novel and slightly uncomfortable.  In the first chapter Alice is a child and mesmerized by Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) but there is something certainly creepy about the attraction between the two.

What’s Next:

I have a library book and an ILL book on my nightstand to read next.  Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym (I’m on another Brit. streak) and Vin Packer’s pulp novella duo Whisper his Sin / The Evil Friendship.  The Packer story The Evil Friendship is about the Parker-Hulme murder and was part of the inspiration for Heavenly Creatures.

Loads of great reading going on and even more in the future.  Tomorrow I’m taking the kids to the library so I’m sure I’ll find a few more books jumping on-board.

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5 comments

  1. If you're reading Vin Packer, you must make sure to read Spring Fire at some point! It's an old favourite classic trashy read of mine and another of our mutual acquaintance – sure you wouldn't be able to figure out whom from looking at the back of the book . . .

    I don't think I've ever commented on your blog before but hello from riotous London!

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