Just to show that I am not a complete slattern, I had already started on a tidy-up of the books on and around my bedside table over the weekend. 'On and around' is an understatement for piles and towers of books on every surface, including the floor. I couldn't think of where to put them, all shelves being full, and then I had a brilliant idea - they could go on the blog. I've had fun adding a new list to the sidebar. These are the books that I've been reading since my last sort out in July.
I have really enjoyed exploring some of the designated book blogs, especially those I've picked out as favourites. I have been filled with awe at the number of books those erudite and interesting writers get through but now I see I've been getting through quite a number myself. I'm glad I waited until I couldn't move around them before putting them away, or I might never have noticed. RandomDistractions does not pretend to be a book blog but there are one or two of my recent reads that I would like to comment on.
I made a huge mistake this summer in responding to a special offer on books from the Richard and Judy book club - their summer collection. Last year I bought Arthur and George by Julian Barnes, Labyrinth by Kate Mosse and March by Geraldine Brooks on their recommendation and enjoyed them all, so I thought it would be safe to buy their full summer list. Mistake! I started by reading Jonathan Tropper's How to Talk to a Widower. Richard and Judy picked this out as the best of their eight recommendations and it received impressive reviews in several newspapers. All that I can say is, if you haven't read it then don't! To its credit, each chapter starts out well with a sentence to draw the reader in: Chapter 2: MOST DAYS,WE GET RABBITS ON OUR LAWN. Chapter 3: MY MOTHER WARNED ME NOT TO MARRY HAILEY. Chapter 41: I HAD A WIFE. HER NAME WAS HAILEY. NOW SHE'S GONE.And so am I. Unfortunately I can't quote much more of the book because I filter out offensive language. Jonathan Tropper is a teacher of writing at Manhattanville College. Hm! Most teachers of my acquaintance have more than four-letter words in their vocabulary.
That was the summer reading off to a very bad start. The MM spotted Simon Kernick's Relentless in the parcel; thinking it looked like a man's book, he took it into the garden to read. He came back after ten minutes and returned it to the pile - 'utter trash' was his verdict. This was beginning to look like a very poor investment. Next I selected The Savage Garden by Mark Mills. This was described in The Telegraph as 'An intriguing puzzle, elegantly written ...' I'm afraid I found it tedious and all rather pointless. At least I don't need to find room on my bookshelves for this lot as they will be going straight to the charity shop.
I put Richard and Judy aside for a couple of weeks and nosed around the lives of Anna Massey, Judi Dench, John Simpson and Andrew Motion. (I imagine that Andrew Motion's writing classes bear no comparison with those of Mr Tropper.) Then my Scottish ancestry kicked in and made me return to the R&J parcel: I had paid for eight books and only read two and discarded one, I had to try again. I'm glad I did because The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson was an excellent choice; set in northern Canada in the 1930s and 40s, it is gentle, evocative and full of surprises. I am currently enjoying the much lighter, amusing It could happen to you by Isla Dewar. Still to read are the intriguing sounding Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday, Kim Edwards' The Memory Keeper's Daughter and The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.
There seem to have been a lot of books about people's daughters recently, I still have a copy of The Abortionist's Daughter on my To Be Read shelf and I've seen references to The Rabbi's Daughter, The Firework-maker's Daughter and The Grave-digger's Daughter. I'll try not to be put off by the trend. I would normally pass on the historical novel too but I enjoyed The Needle in the Blood earlier in the summer so I'll give The House at Riverton a chance.
I must get on and finish as many books and quilts as possible before I start my studies on 13 October. I hope I won't have to choose between reading my favourite blogs and doing the housework - the spiders could make a major come-back and I would have to leave home.