Holiday Reading

IMGP1702I was inspired to put this little list together after seeing a similar page on the Stone Soup blog. Books meant the world to me when were away, but they always have. As an only child, I’ve always been pretty partial to sneaking off to a quiet place, shutting the door, and sticking my nose into a book, until my tummy starts to grumble, or I need a nap.

So – this is what I’ve read recently, what I’m reading now, what I thought of it, and whether I’d pass it along to you!

now reading

murder in mississippi – john safran

Hmm… This is an interesting one. John Safran is a pretty great writer – super readable and witty and clever. But I’m grappling a little bit with the subject matter and how it’s being presented. White supremacist (who was punk’d by Safran a few years earlier in his Race Relations show) is murdered by young black kid. Safran hears about it and decides to write about it, semi-sorta befriending the killer from his jail cell along the way. The case itself is murky and muddled, and, while the protagonist isn’t cast as a hero, there’s definitely a comedic ‘light’ around him. Which I’m not cool with, when you learn some of the nasty shiz he’s done. But it’s still worth reading, methinks. My book club are discussing this one at our next meeting.

Would I lend you my copy? : Yes. And then I’d invite you over to watch Race Relations and John Safran vs God and a few early episodes of Race Around the World.

recently read

on the beach – nevil shute

When Rich finished this book, he said “If I ever meet anyone who isn’t completely affected by this book, I will stop being friends with them” so I read it as a CHALLENGE! To set the scene, war has broken out in the northern hemisphere and nuclear weapons have been deployed. A cloud of radioactive gas moves its way across the globe, slowly but surely poisoning (and killing) everyone and everything in its path. Melbourne is one of the last places in the world that’s still habitable, which is where On The Beach is set. Now, I’m not good at death stuff – I know that no one is, but some people can talk quite openly about funerals and wills and ‘last supper-type meals’. I’m not one of those people. At all. So reading this book and putting yourself into the story and imagining how YOU might spend your last weeks on earth – it makes me shudder. But it’s incredible. And heart-breaking. And… Just… Astounding. I’d have to agree with Rich too.

There’s a film of this as well – two actually. The original was released in the late 50s and starred Gregory Peck (swoon), Anthony Perkins (SUPER swoon, espesh because he’s not a mother-loving psycho!) and Fred Astaire (not my type), and, well, it’s not very good. I fell asleep and felt annoyed because it kinda ruined the book a bit more me. Not very true to the story and the feelings… There was another one that came out in 2000 with Bryan Brown, and has been called one of the worst remakes ever remade.

Would I lend you my copy? : Yes. But. If you’re not moved to tears, I might delete your number from my phone.

the psychopath test – jon ronson

This book is CRAZY (pardon the pun) – for anyone who’s interested in how the mind works and how big business operates, this is a fascinating read. I gasped here and there, because I feel like I know quite a few people who exhibit psychopathic traits – gulp!

Would I lend you my copy? : Yes! I think everyone should read this book.

lost memory of skin – russell banks

This is SUCH a great read. Full on and pretty unpleasant subject matter (community of pedophiles living under a bridge in Florida) but holy crap it’s an incredible story.

Would I lend you my copy? : Totally.

little star – john ajvide lindqvist

Gah, WHY am I even giving this book the time of day?? This guy wrote Let the right one in, which I loved – amazing, wonderful, original read. I think everyone loved that book. Then he wrote Handling the Undead, which was about zombies. Still pretty good. Then it all went pear-shaped. I read Harbour when we were in Sweden (cos y’know, why not) and it was SO awful I actually threw the book across the room. At around 500 pages, it landed with a pretty loud thud… So why O why did I subject myself to his latest? Who can say… It’s because I keep hoping he’s gonna find his mojo again, of original, inspired, edge-of-you-seat storytelling. Little Star – about a baby found in the woods and then raised in a cellar, who obvy grows up to have some pretty major personal issues – is another 500+ page big fat waste of time. Sorry John…

Would I lend you my copy? : Weirdly, I still have it. But I wouldn’t lend it to you, because I wouldn’t want to be responsible for stealing x amount of hours from you, when you could have been reading something amazing and life-changing that you WOULDN’T want to throw at the wall.

one day in september – simon reeve

This outlines the events of the 1972 Munich Olympics, when a Palestinian extremist group took the Israeli Olympic team hostage. Devastating and intense and an amazing snapshot into history. This book makes me want to find out SO much more about politics.

Would I lend you my copy? : Yes! And then I’d invite you over to watch the doco (which I still haven’t seen) – let’s do that soon.

you’ll be sorry when i’m dead – marieke hardy

Rich got this for me for Christmas, and I read the whole thing in a day. I love the way Marieke writes – her tales of love and heartbreak and besties and binges and cancer and Joey Dee are so evocative in the book, it feels like she’s telling you stories in the flesh, over a pot at the Napier. I’ve been a fan of Marieke’s since she was Sally Marshall in The Henderson Kids 2. We had the same jumper (a bright pink and green striped number) and I was sure this common fashion sense meant we were, quite possibly, long lost sisters. I don’t think we are.

Would i lend you my copy?: Of course! I’d want it back though.

the elephant’s journey – jose saramago

It pains me to say it, but I didn’t love this book, and – gulp – didn’t actually finish it. I loved Blindness, but this story about – yup – an elephant’s journey just didn’t grab me. It’s written in that kind of ye olde english style, which I struggled to follow, and eventually just gave up. It’s still on my bedside table and I will finish it, but I think I need to start it again…

Would i lend you my copy? : I probably would. And I probably wouldn’t ask for it back. You can keep it, no really. Keep it.

into thin air – jon krakauer

This is TERRIFYING and EXCELLENT and makes you wonder why anyone would ever want to climb Mount Everest. Krakauer was invited on an expedition to Mount Everest in the mid-90s, an expedition which killed eight climbers and left several others stranded atop the mountain during a crazy storm that appeared out of nowhere. I spent most of my time reading this either crying like a behbeh or feeling like I was going to throw up.

Would i lend you my copy? : Mos def. But only if you promise not to have a heart attack while reading it, because I do not want that on my conscience.

the magus – john fowles

This book is truly effed up, in the greatest way possible. Written in the 60s, it tells the tale of a toffee, hoighty teaching graduate, who lands the ‘perfect’ job teaching in a boys school on a Greek Island. He’s warned by his predecessor to avoid a chap named Something-or-other (that’s not his name – I can’t remember what he was called) and avoid the house on the cliff. Of course, being a bit of a stubborn prick, our protagonist decides to check out what all the fuss is about and is drawn into a world of trickery, sexy times, scary masks and getting locked up in weird places underground. The Magus makes you go “What?! Did that really just happen or did I only think it just happened?”.

Would i lend you my copy? : No, because I already loaned it to someone. But you can have it when I get it back.

the happiness project – gretchin rubin

This book has honestly changed my life. Fo real. Go out and buy it right now. Or if you’ve got a kindle or an iPad or some other fanceh reading tablet, download it. This book is about getting happier and setting achievable goals and tasks for yourself, and, well, I really think you should just read it and fall in love with it for yourself.

Would i lend you my copy? : I probably wouldn’t, because it’s full of highlighted passages and scribbled notes in the margins, but I would totally buy you a copy! I would!!

the essential vegetarian cookbook – diana shaw

So not technically a book you’d take on a trip to the beach, or something you’d whip out on a long train journey, this is an excellent book POST holiday. Why? Because it’s full (624 pages full) of amazing, delicious, easy and quick vegetarian recipes. It’s been sitting on our shelf for years, and I’ve never given it the time of day, until a couple of weeks ago when I thought “Maybe that book has a recipe for a pasta salad with feta and capers” and it TOTALLY DID AND IT WAS DELICIOUS!!! This has fast become my go-to for dinners, parties, BBQs, or when it hits snack o’clock. There are a bunch of delicious looking desserts I’m yet to try – will report back on those!

Would i lend you my copy? : No, absolutely not. But I’d invite you round for dinner! You bring the wine, I’ll do the rest!

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