Saturday, 14 January 2012

What I’m reading

Normally I would post this on my Book Blog but I thought it might be of general interest as well so I put it here.

I’m never just reading one book at a time.  I usually have half a dozen on the go – partly so that there is a different one for each mood and partly because each time I get a new book I can’t resist dipping into it.  At the moment I have a lot more than half a dozen - I blame the Kindle for that!  Here is what I am exploring at the moment.

Firstly there are some on the Kindle:-
The Bed-Book of Happiness, Being a Colligation or Assemblage of Cheerful Writings brought together from many quarters into this one compass for the diversion, distraction, and delight of those who lie abed, - a friend to the invalid, a companion to the sleepless, an excuse to the tired, by Harold Begbie, 1914.
“It is worth,” said Dr Johnson, “ a thousand pounds a year to have the habit of looking on the bright side of things.” And Harold Begbie explores English literature to provide diverting little stories and extracts.  It’s a real ‘dip-into’ book and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
Death by Darjeeling (A Tea Mystery) by Laura Childs I always have to have at least one cosy crime on the go!
The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth.  I came across this when I heard an extract on Radio 4.  It’s a hilarious look at etymology of a wide variety of words.  An essential read for anyone who loves the English language.
Blandings Castle and Elsewhere by P G Wodehouse. My easy-reading when I can’t get to sleep and need something that doesn’t need any great thought to enjoy.  The usual Wodehouse humour.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.  I am only just starting this.  I recently read ‘The Moonstone’ and ‘No Name’.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  Another that I’m only just beginning.

‘Real’ Books (i.e., paperbacks and hardbacks)
Eldest by, Christopher Paolini.  I’m thoroughly enjoying this fantasy novel – the follow up to Eragon in The Inheritance Cycle which I’ve just finished..
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.  I started this months ago and lost interest but I’m sure I’ll get around to finishing it one day.  What I read I did enjoy so I’m not sure why I put it down.  It’s a sort of 19th century version of a Bill Bryson travel book.  Very funny but, needless to say, not politically correct by modern day standards.
Fifth Chinese Daughter by Jade Snow Wong.  Another one that I started but put down and my bookmark is stuck in page 154.  It’s a great story of a Chinese girl being brought up in a Chinese household in the USA and her attempts to reconcile the two very different cultures.
The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon.  Written a thousand years ago by a lady at the Japanese court it’s a fun book to dip into on sleepless nights.
The Victorians by Jeremy Paxman.  Britain through the paintings of the age. 
Green men and White Swans by Jacqueline Simpson.  The folklore of British Pub names.
Engleby by Sebastian Faulks.  I had just started this when Eragon came along so it got put to one side.

The Oxford Concise Companion to English Literature by Margaret Drabble and Jenny StringerSee my blog entry from Wednesday.

Victorian London Street Life in Historic Photos by John Thomson, 1877.  Thid better than most similar books as it delves quite deeply into the background of each of the photos, describing London street life as it was in the 1870s. 

Lost for Words by John Humphreys.  A look at the English language and how it has been mangled in recent times.  I picked up this book by the famous BBC presenter in a charity shop the other day.  A real gem.
Do you read a load of books at the same time?  And what are you reading now (yes, Monica, listening to audio-books counts!).


  1. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is the best trilogy I read last year. A great loss as a thriller writer is Stieg Larson.

  2. I appreciate book recommendations, and there are many here that I haven't read.
    Like you, I read several books at a time. One by the bed, one by the sofa, one in the TV room(of course!) one in the car in case I have to wait for someone....etc

  3. I am a slow reader, so only read one book at a time. At the moment I am enjoying reading The Woods by Harlan Coban.

  4. I'm a great fan of, I can listen to a book and work at the same time..heaven.


  5. In my reading life, I often had several books on the go at one time. Sadly, my eyes are not what they once were and now I am reduced to ONE BOOK AT A TIME and I find it slow going even with just one...

  6. Thanks for the great post. Always great to have some new suggestions for books to try.

    I too usually have several books at a time on the go. I try to save the really exciting ones for daylight -- I have enough trouble getting to sleep as it is, without worrying about the lives and loves of the characters in my books.

    I just started "All My Worldly Goods" by Irene Nemirovsky. She was born in Kiev in 1903, and fled to France with her family during the Bolshevik Revolution. She attended the Sorbonne and during the late 1920's and 1930's she wrote several books which sold well in France. She thought her success was enough to protect her from the Nazis. It wasn't. She died in Auschwitz in 1942, at the age of 39.
    In the past few years, her books have begun to be reprinted and her reputation is making a comeback.

    When I can't sleep, I reread parts of Gladys Taber's books. Or Hazel Holt's cosy mysteries about Mrs. Malory.

  7. I usually read five books or so at the same time. Usually some random Terry Pratchett or Tad Williams (I highly recommend his Dragonbone Chair series!). Right now I'm reading Farewell to Arms, a biography of Hermann Hesse, Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff, a book about the cholera epidemic in Hamburg, a roleplaying rule book (Endland, postapocalyptic roleplaying system) and a few graphic novels, for example Whiteout by Greg Rucka.

  8. I enjoyed the Larson series a lot. I read the paperbacks. We gave my youngest son a Kindle. He's not a reader, but he has finished two books and is two thirds through the third. There's a lot to be said for these tablets.

  9. I'm reading Teach Us To Sit Still-A Skeptic's Search for Health and Healing by Tim Parks. It might be of some interest to you. Also Taming the Tiger Within by Thich Nhat Hanh. Two books at a time is all I can manage.

  10. I'm always on the look out for book recommendations - not the critics or papers though! Thanks for these!!

  11. These days that's almost as many books as I read in a year although I do keep quite a few on the go at the same time. At the moment I've just finished Three Men in a Boat, and have Je t'aime a la Folie, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch (re-read) and The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists on the go. I may live long enough to finish them.

  12. I guess I usually have two or three going, and may occasionally make excursions into other books as well - but I prefer not to have too many "plots" going on at the same time. At least not new ones.

    I was half way into a Swedish novel about a hundred-year-old who stepped out of the window and disappeared, when I got messages from the library to pick up two English ones. So I put the old man and his adventures on hold for a while because that's my own book. I just finished Among the Mad in the Maise Dobbs series; and got started on The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I'm also relistening to Making Money by Terry Pratchett.

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series I listened to in Swedish a few years ago. I'm amazed at how popular that series has become all over the world. I suppose it's good, but a bit too violent for me. I've had no wish to also watch the films, reading the books was enough!

    I have the Oxford Companion to English Literature. Not the concise version but a New Edition from 1987. It never really entered my mind to try and read it from cover to cover though... But I do occasionally look things up in it!

  13. Thank you everyone - plenty of ideas for me to excplore among those suggestions / comments.

    Monica, I've got the full Oxford Companion to English Literature (and an old version by a different editor) but reading that would have been ambitious beyond even my youthful enthusiasm!

    I didn't realise The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo was violent - that probably explains why it has become so popular.

  14. My husband has read the whole set of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo since downloading it on his Kindle Christmas present. I am a Kindle widow now.

    An interesting list. |I always have many books on the go too.


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