Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Milestone!

I have just read a book in a day, which always makes me feel like a superhuman over-achiever. It was a teen fiction novel by John Stephens called The Emerald Atlas, which apparently is getting rave reviews overseas but is not going to be published in Australia until next year. Reading young adult or junior fiction has been an obstacle for me for quite a while now. I know that it is something I ought to be reading, at least a little bit, but it just feels that much less exciting than other stuff. And having spent so long studying, the thought of reading as a duty or a chore is spectacularly unappealing. So... yay me!

Now on to the book itself: I enjoyed it. The basic structure seemed a bit like overused carbon paper - three siblings, missing parents, a prophecy, a magic book... sort of a Harry Potter /Lemony Snickett mashup. Once that issue has been dealt with though, it's a great story. It isn't at all heavy-handed on the "teen issue" front but it does show children being capable. So if you are aged between about 10 and 14 I suggest you give it a shot.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Book Drought

I feel like I have nothing meaty to read. There is... you know... stuff to read but it all feels like filler.

That was my briefly typed thought a few days ago. I have since acted on a recommendation and picked up Arundhati Roy's The God Of Small Things. It was wonderful but very intense and deeply sad and I need a break from it, so I am back to my book drought. I finished a bio about Princess Masako by Ben Hill the other day which left me quite sad and listless, so I really need an uplifting or at least a bit cheerful book to read.

And Dorian Gray is going nowhere fast.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let Go And Breathe

Lessons In Letting Go by Corinne Grant is not supposed to be a horror book but it scared the shit out of me. I have a bit of a tendency to hoard and this book is all about how Grant came to deal her own object obsession. It was really, really scary (but funny at the same time) to read about someone who thinks like me about things only on a more extreme scale. She turned boxes of shit into a feature wall because she couldn't deal with sorting the stuff out and throwing away the junk. I've never been that bad, but I spent the weekend worrying about whether or not I culled enough in the house move, or if I will turn into one of those crazy people like my Great Aunt Dorothy who keep jars of "Pieces of string too short to use". Despite the scariness it was fun to read. A lot of books by comedians don't turn out so well but this was the perfect combo of funny cleverness and actual storyline. Read it! (But make sure you give it away after or you'll feel like a hoarder).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Forgot About The Garden

In the craziness that is moving house, I have forgotten to keep Girl Booker up to date. I will be stretching my memory a little here but...

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton was a pleasant and engaging read. I feel that she has grown hugely as a writer since this volume was published, as The Distant Hours has so many more intricate layers and secret twists and turns. I am still looking forward to reading her first book, but am a little cautious about it, in case it is too much like a draft of the novel that it could be.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was reading a historical biography. Lady Worsley's Whim by Hallie Rubenhold is one of those books about the English aristocracy written by an American. I don't think a non-English author would write a better or worse book, but they definitely write a different one. The sense of distance is important in fleshing out certain details, and dwelling on particular facts. Rubenhold very skillfully turned facts and data into a story, without making it seem naff or fluffy. It was good to read some historically accurate stuff from Regency England, as I have read so much Regency fiction.

And an update on Dorian Gray: I am stalling badly.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Staring At The Walls

I've been reading Flock, a book by Lyn Hughes due to be published in March 2011. It is about a wallpaper designer, his wife, and their daughter who grows up to become a wallpaper and interiors historian. As a result of cheerful happenstance, today I wandered past a non-fiction title in my new local library: Wallpaper. It's a tiny little thing - the perfect companion piece to briefly dip into for some extra background colour. Both books are about wallpaper, and in an Australian context.

I am finding Flock really enjoyable; I'm racing through it, yet find I need moments of staring-into-space contemplation between chapters. It is a modern Sydney book in that the narrative feels spacious and breezy, reminding me of Indelible Ink (Fiona McGregor) and The Legacy (Kirsten Tranter). However, it isn't set in contemporary Sydney. It's mostly set in the Blue Mountains in the 1960s and the 1980s. Nevertheless, I have a real sense that I am reading about fragments of my life and my experiences.

I've just finished it and it is not about wallpaper at all. It is about love.

I loved it.