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A Good Read?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by BertieBassett2, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. colpee

    colpee Star commenter

    India, A Literary Companion by Bruce Palling, which is a wonderful collection of anecdotes and reflections of India through the ages, both by Indians and foreigners. I'm reading this now, and I have ordered a couple of the references that seem good.

    Coming Up for Air by George Owell - Odd, sometimes humerous, but actually a melancholy account of reaching back to one's childhood when everything seemed so much better.

    The Evolution of a State, or, Recollections of Old Texas Days - Noah Smithwick - the man was there! Not a 'scholarly' read, but a real account of how the early settlers lived, fought and coped in pre-secession Texas.
    towncryer, maz403 and BertieBassett2 like this.
  2. coffeekid

    coffeekid Star commenter

    If you enjoy short stories, Helen Simpson is masterful. Four Bare Legs in a Bed is one of my favourite collections. First read it when interrailing in the late 90s, and I keep going back to it. It's like an old friend.
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters really affected me - it's a ghost story. Waters also wrote Fingersmith, which is wonderful.
    Gillespie and I by Jane Harris is very affecting too. Set in Glasgow during the Great Exhibition. I could only read it once though as the ending upset me too much.
    My guilty pleasure is zombie novels - it's been years since I bought one though, but yesterday I bought Cell by Stephen King. I read the first few pages and I'm looking forward to going to bed tonight so I can read more..! Dumb but fun. And Stephen King does what he does so well.
  3. stanley4shoes

    stanley4shoes Occasional commenter

    The monkeywrench series by PJ Tracy is worth a read
    BertieBassett2 likes this.
  4. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    Elly Griffiths does a good detective novel.
    I echo the Patick Gale recommendation too.
    How about some of the "real classics"? I turn to Jane Austen or "Middlemarch" each year.
    Rohinton Mistry is excellent.
    BertieBassett2 likes this.
  5. friedgreentomatoes

    friedgreentomatoes Star commenter

    Life after Life by her is also wonderful.
  6. friedgreentomatoes

    friedgreentomatoes Star commenter

    Also, if you fancy something a little different, I loved the Chronicles of St Mary's books by Jodi Taylor (I started reading them after someone on here recommended them).
    Laphroig and BertieBassett2 like this.
  7. artboyusa

    artboyusa Star commenter

    I'm 300 pages into the Count, with another 900 or so to go and enjoying all of them. Book's never been out of print since it was published in 1844 and I can see why - what a story!
    And I just finished Up In the Old Hotel. Wonderfully observed and humane stories about the people of 1930s and 40s New York, a vanished world now, by Joe Mitchell of the New Yorker. Pure pleasure.
    upload_2019-6-24_20-31-12.jpeg [​IMG]

    BertieBassett2 likes this.
  8. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    Books by Robert Harris? Fatherland, Munich, Conclave...

    ‘Without You There is No Us’ by Suki Kim, a journalist who went undercover as a teacher at a North Korean university several years ago.

    ‘Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse’ by Suraya Sadeed - the true story of how a woman ‘risked everything to bring hope to Afghanistan’.
    BertieBassett2 likes this.
  9. fraisier

    fraisier Senior commenter

    In this case, try Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes, that'll get anyone out of their comfort zone. It's a real page-turner of a novel, it's cutting edge, raw, decadent, funny and contemporary. The Irish Times thinks it's possibly one of the books of the decade. Not sure it is but it is terrific all the same. The Guardian thinks it's a "foul-mouthed satire of modern France" (it's a foul-mouthed satire all right but it's universal IMO, not specifically French).

    Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes, translated by Frank Wynne review: One of the books of the year, if not the decade

    They've just made a series out of it, aired a few months ago on Canal Plus, so hopefully on telly in the UK soon (or Netflix).

    I read The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim (by Jonathan Coe) before that, very different but equally excellent IMO. The blurb from Goodreads:

    Maxwell Sim seems to have hit rock bottom. Estranged from his father, newly divorced, unable to communicate with his only daughter, he realizes that while he may have seventy-four friends on Facebook, there is nobody in the world with whom he can actually share his problems. Then a business proposition comes his way - a strange exercise in corporate PR that will require him to spend a week driving from London to a remote retail outlet on the Shetland Isles. Setting out with an open mind, good intentions and a friendly voice on his SatNav for company, Maxwell finds that this journey soon takes a more serious turn, and carries him not only to the furthest point of the United Kingdom, but into some of the deepest and darkest corners of his own past. In his sparkling and hugely enjoyable new book, Jonathan Coe reinvents the picaresque novel for our time.
    BertieBassett2 likes this.
  10. borges33

    borges33 New commenter

    Don Winslow - The Power Of The Dog
    Bernard MacLaverty - Collected Stories
    Jenni Fagan - The Panopticon
    Jorge Luis Borges - The Aleph
    BertieBassett2 likes this.
  11. doteachershavesuperpowers

    doteachershavesuperpowers Occasional commenter

    Geek Love by Katherine Dunn - beautifully disturbing.
    BertieBassett2 likes this.
  12. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I second Robert Harris and loved Middle England by Jonathan Coe
    BertieBassett2 likes this.
  13. smoothnewt

    smoothnewt Star commenter

    I enjoyed that, and also Remarkable Creatures, At the Edge of the Orchard, Girl with a Pearl Earring and Falling Angels - all by Tracy Chevalier. I never did manage to finish Burning Bright, however.
    BertieBassett2 likes this.
  14. smoothnewt

    smoothnewt Star commenter

    The Post Office girl is set in the years after WW1, and is set against the background of the extreme poverty faced by the average Austrian in the inter-war years. This contrasts with the astonishing wealth of the bourgeoisie. I won't go into the plot, but the novel was published posthumously in 1982 (the author had made a suicide pact with his wife) - and this was clearly on his mind as he wrote the novel.
    BertieBassett2 likes this.
  15. smoothnewt

    smoothnewt Star commenter

    I have also enjoyed everything by Anita Shreve and would recommend everything she wrote (she died last year). I love her style of writing. Her final novel "The Stars are Fire" is very good and readily available in bookshops. The links to her obituary give a good idea as to the content of her novels.



    I would also recommend Swimming Lessons and Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller.
    BertieBassett2 likes this.
  16. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    ...and if you liked Elly Griffiths, you might like Louise Penny.
    I ve just discovered her but am recommended by a friend to read them in order.
    Laphroig and BertieBassett2 like this.
  17. Ivartheboneless

    Ivartheboneless Star commenter

    I have found that many so-called "classic" novels are a bit ovverrated. I'm not sure if this is because of school where I learned that such things were boring, and that I did not care or want to know why a particular phrase or paragraph was written in a particular way by some long dead author. I recently, to get a flavour of such things, read The Hound of The Baskervilles by Conan Doyle, and found the plot actually quite simplistic. BUT, of course, I already knew the plot because it has been dramatised so many times in film and on telly. I may have thus "spoilered" it. I read a John Buchan, one of the Hannay ones, so unremarkable I can't remember the title, and I read one of theose FuManchu novels, which was dire. All of them (less so the Conan Doyle) were riddled with racism and misogyny, but should we condemn them for that? I certainly grated with me. I read as "entertainment". If a novel is too hard to read, it does not get finished, or gets dipped into over a long period. My personal choice is for "historical" themes; Roman stuff, Vikings, Wars of the Roses, Napoleonic times are examples. I think I have read everything written by Bernard Cornwell, though he has gone off a bit. There are some characters that have been picked up by other authors, like James Bond (as Fleming died in the 60s) and Sherlock Holmes (e.g. I think I saw that there are 270+ Sherlock Holmes books on Amazon, though not all will be novels). There are pros and cons of doing this, one of which is the somewhat ridiculous copyright laws in the UK and USA. I do not recognise many of the books listed in this thread.
    BertieBassett2 likes this.
  18. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    Damned decent of you.
    BertieBassett2 likes this.
  19. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    My reading is most suitable for these,
    BertieBassett2 likes this.
  20. smoothnewt

    smoothnewt Star commenter

    I sometimes think "Oh, I'll read a classic novel" - say Dickens, but then I open the book and look at the tiny print and I think "My poor old eyes are just not up to the strain" and I put it back on the shelf.


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