February Reading Update

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February turned out to be a stellar month for reading although I don’t expect that pace to continue. I tend to have a few books on the go at any one time. It can take a bit of juggling, but I like to read certain types of books at different times of the day. Books of a more serious nature I like to read during the day, when my mind is fresher and I can take notes for future reference.  Books that I read for pure escapism and fun, I tend to at night, in bed. The idea of reading something fun but not too demanding at night, is to help me sleep. It doesn’t always work out, though. Especially when you get to those exciting parts and you can’t bear to put the book down. Or when you’ve got only a few chapters to go, so you might as well finish it.

February’s list below is a bit longer than January – 10 books! But with my nose back to the books (study, that is), I expect the reading pace to drop off. I’ll still be reading of course, it will just be Ethics and Australian History. So, the list… 

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

A well-loved Australian classic. This is a reread and probably my most favourite Winton. After personal tragedy, the Pickles family and the Lamb family relocate to Perth where they end up sharing a house on Cloud Street. I really like the way Winton captures the everyday life of ordinary people, their ups and their downs, showing how two very different families can eventually come together to be one.

Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser

An interesting book, this one. It took me a little while to get into but it explores themes of migration, travel and the role of the internet in changing the way we relate to each other. The internet gives us the opportunity to travel anywhere in the world from the comfort of our computer desk and the nature of modern life often means we are constantly on the move, flitting through life, meeting and leaving people. But where do we call home?

The Lambs of London by Peter Ackroyd

Loosely based on the real historical characters of Mary and Charles Lamb, Ackroyd explores literary forgery, the obsession with Shakespeare and the sad story of Mary Lamb. Scarred by small pox, restricted by social conventions and incarcerated in mental asylums following the murder of her mother, Mary didn’t have an easy life. It was an enjoyable read, quite funny in parts, as well as being a bit saucy too.

Shroud by John Banville

I didn’t realise that Shroud is book 2 of the Cleave Trilogy, although I had no trouble reading it as a stand alone. The title initially suggested a death shroud to me, but  foreign translations on Goodreads had  “imposter” in the title. Anyway, the main character, Axel Vander, does travel to Turin… the Shroud of Turin…so possible forgery… It explores themes of identity, who we are, who we try to be and how we are always wanting to be somebody else. It’s not an easy read, as the narrative wanders a bit and is interspersed with sojourns into the soul and mind, but it was thought provoking.

The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke

A memoir by Australian writer Maxine Beneba Clarke, this book portrays the racism she experienced growing up in Australia and continues to experience even now. Of African heritage, Maxine experienced racial abuse that was nothing short of abhorrent. The racial abuse was bad enough, but the fact that adults stood by, in silence, is even worse. I would call this my best read of the year so far.  A highly recommended read.

and I also read …

  • The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
  • The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
  • The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
  • The Serpents Shadow by Rick Riordan
  • The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Yes, there’s quite a bit of Rick Riordan. That’s what I’ve been reading at night. If you’ve ever read Rick Riordan, you’ll know that probably wasn’t a good idea. Why am I reading so much Rick Riordan? Well, Bec is a great fan of Rick Riordan and has read just about all the books. When Bec first started branching into YA, I would read the books as well. Partly so that I could keep tabs on the content, but also because it meant we could talk about the books together. And it’s something we continue to do and enjoy to this day.

Right from the start, I have enjoyed reading YA. I know that sometimes there is a bit of a thing going around about adults reading YA, which I really don’t understand at all.         As C. S. Lewis says:

No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally and often far more worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.

As far as I am concerned, a good book is a good book is a good book. If children’s books and YA are not considered good enough for adults to read, then why do we consider them good enough for children and young people to read. Surely in those critical years of growth and development, we should be giving them the best books possible. Sheree from Keeping Up with the Penguins has a great post about this topic which you can read here.

So I’ve been churning through the Rick Riordan books. I actually started last year but only picked it up again in February. My goal is to read them all over the coming months. I’m just loving them. They’re fun. I love his sense of humour – seriously, laugh out loud. And I get to learn about Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology at the same time.   

It’s been another good month for Book Bingo – another 3 boxes ticked off. But again, I don’t expect this rate to continue. At some point all the easy boxes will be ticked off and I will be challenged to step outside my usual fare to tick off the last boxes, which of course, is the whole point of a reading challenge. This is how the card is looking so far….

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  • Prize Winning Book – Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser
  • Themes of Fantasy – The last Olympian by Rick Riordan
  • Written by Australian Man – Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Well, that wraps up the reading for February. And yes, it is still called an update for want of a better title. Perhaps I will come up with something more interesting by next time.

Happy Reading!

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January Reading Update

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One of the pleasures of entering the blogging world is the discovery of so many other bookworms from all corners of the world. No longer do we need to wait for a physical book club meeting to find our next read or hear other readers thoughts about a text. At any time of the day or night we can just jump online and join the conversation.

I am always amazed by the number of books that some readers manage to read each month or each year, but then I remind myself that everybody’s life is different. At the end of the day, or the year for that matter, it’s not about how many books you have read but how much you enjoyed reading, discovering new writers and expanding your own horizons. Sometimes I devour books and sometimes I like to take it slow. And sometimes life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of reading as much as I would like.

After completing last years Goodreads challenge, I set myself some reading goals for this year, including reading for diversity, reading more non-fiction, achieving gender parity, and upping my book target just a fraction. And for something new, I have added a new reading challenge. Teresa Smith, Mrs B’s Book Reviews and The Book Muse run a book bingo challenge.  The beauty of this kind of challenge is that it doesn’t require adding any more books to my reading list. When I have finished a book, I look at the bingo card and see if it fits one of the squares. It will be interesting to see how many squares I get marked off by the end of the year. This is how my card looks so far:

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Novel with 500+ pages: Wild Lavender by Belinda Alexandra

Science Fiction Themes: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

Author I’ve Never Read: India – A Million Mutinies Now by V. S. Naipaul

Introducing … end of the month reading updates

Between caring for Dan, studying and other family and life commitments, I don’t really have time to write detailed book reviews of every book that I read. Sometimes it’s just enough to keep up with logging the books on Goodreads and give a rating. But I thought it might be interesting to give a brief monthly update on my reading journey as it progresses through the year. Some months might turn out to be a bit leaner than others but here is what I read during January.

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

I have read a few books by Isabel Allende, but I didn’t realise that Daughter of Fortune formed part of a loose trilogy, together with Portrait in Sepia and The House of the Spirits, both of which I have read before. Daughter of Fortune follows the story of Eliza Sommers and Tao Chi’en, from their early life in Chile and China, to the Californian Gold Rush in the late 1840’s. There is a running theme of the expectations and limitations placed upon the lives of women but the cheapness and degradation of young Chinese girls sold into prostitution as Sing-Song Girls was particularly disgraceful.

Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende

Portrait in Sepia, the next book in the trilogy, picks up the story of Aurora, Eliza’s grand-daughter. Despite the prevailing expectation for young women to become “obedient wives” and “sacrificing mothers”, Aurora is determined to learn the art of photography.   I really enjoy Allende’s stories for the way she brings the history and people of that part of the world to life. Unfortunately I have to now wait for The House of the Spirits to be returned to the library so I can finish off the series.

Wild Lavender by Belinda Alexandra

Belinda Alexandra has been one of my favourite Australian writers for a while. This was another reread, although it is surprising how much of a story one can forget. Set in France, Wild Lavender follows the story of Simone, a young woman who grew up on a Lavender Farm but nurtures a dream of a life on the stage. Love, loss and the occupation of France during World War Two all play a part in Simone’s life as we see her mature from a young country girl to a woman of courage and strength.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

Having The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on my TBR, I knew Douglas Adams wrote science fiction but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this one. Described as “a thumping good detective-ghost-horror-whodunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic”, I laughed out loud all the way through. Needless to say, I can’t wait to read THGttG. 

India: A Million Mutinies Now by V. S. Naipaul

And now for something completely different, my first non-fiction book for the year. I had not read V. S. Naipaul before but I picked up a couple of his books, including this one, at the Toowoomba Lifeline Bookfest last year. Naipaul was born in Trinidad, however his grandparents were indentured labourers from India. India: A Million Mutinies Now is a kind of travelogue, based on Naipaul’s trip to India in the late 1980’s. It wasn’t necessarily an easy read but I did find it very interesting. I really liked the way Naipaul allows the people he meets to speak for themselves about their histories, their lives and what matters most to them. The role of religion in people’s lives was a strong theme and the chapter about the Sikhs was particularly interesting. I am looking forward to reading some of his fiction.

Well, that wraps it up for my January reading update. I am not totally thrilled with the “reading update” title – it sounds a tad boring to me, so I am open to some suggestions. Let me know if you come up with something better plus whatever you’ve been reading lately. Found any new favourites?

Happy Reading!