Saturday, 18 January 2020

Currently reading and just finished

So I seem to be reading five books at the moment. (I know.) But then this is the kind of reading year I decided upon at the beginning of January. A more casual, dip into this, dip into that sort of year. Less number orientated, less pressure: more enjoyment I hope.

Anyway, I finished, Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry by Harry Kemelman several days ago.

It's Yom Kipur and Rabbi David Small is trying to eat his last meal before fasting begins, but the phone keeps ringing. One of the calls leads him into an investigation concerning a man found dead, presumably asphyxiated, in his car, in his garage. Suicide is pronounced but it doesn't feel right to Rabbi Small and because there's an issue over the burial of a suicide in a Jewish cemetary he's obliged to look into it. When he starts to tread on the toes of various bigwigs on the Jewish council and their interests then, naturally, things become complictated. This was such a good read. Yes, it's a mystery and a good one, but all human life is here, especially the self-interest of people with money and influence who want their own way and will do anything to get it: including trying to get rid a rabbi sacked. Nan at Letters From a Hill Farm recommended this series to me and I'm so glad she did. It's taken me a while to get around to book two but it won't be as long before I read book three.

So... five books.

The Cure of Souls by Phil Rickman. This is book four in his Merrily Watkins series. Merrily is a Church of England vicar who is also the diocesan deliverance consultant, conducting exorcisms etc. This instalment centres around a ouija board incident and involves Merrily's daughter, Jane. At the moment I'm quite liking it but I can also see why it's been nearly eight years (honestly, where does the time go?) since I last read an instalment of this series. We'll see...

The First Cadfael Omnibus by Ellis Peters. Loving this. Two books read, one to go.

The Penguin Book of the British Short Story: Volume one edited by Philip Hensher. Thirty six stories from Daniel Defoe to John Buchan. I've read six and can't honestly say I was very taken by any of them. Excellent writing of course, you wouldn't expect anything else from the likes of Daniel Defoe (an OK ghost story) Henry Fielding (a diatribe on the perils of lesbianism) and Mary Lamb (two sisters who live in London go to live in the country with their grandmother, we're not told why.) I rather suspect this volume will improve.

The Morville Hours by Katherine Swift. This is gorgeous but Spring is approaching in it so I thought I'd wait until Spring is approaching here before I read on. So I needed another bedtime read and naturally I picked up:

Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill, for the third or fourth time, I've honestly lost count how many times I've read this gorgeous book and its sister volume, Jacob's Room is Full of Books. I 'really' hope Susan Hill is writing another book about books.

Would love to hear what you're reading in the comments.



DesLily said...

You are incredible .. ! Sorry some of those stories weren't the greatest. It's been a while since I've read a book I couldn't put down, I'd really like to find some new ones like that! I was thinking of some rereading myself this year because those would definitely be books I don't want to put down! Anyway..I am reading Lisa Gardner "Never Tell" and a chapter here and there of The Murrow Boys by Cloud and Olson (1996).

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I like your idea of dipping into books - carefree, without pressure to finish books sounds really good :)

I have several of the Merrily Watkins books on my Kindle and they have been there for years. I just can't seem to settle down to read the first one, so I'm interested in what you think of them. I bought The Morville Hours two years ago - so I think I'll dip into that one too.

Travellin' Penguin said...

This is good fun. Happy you joined in. ����

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

Reading more than one book at a time is a definite 'no, no' for me, especially fiction, unless I have a factual or poetry book by the side, which I can literally dip in and out of, yet (and this is most important), still be able to read a complete article in one sitting!

At one point, I had almost the complete collection of Susan Hill's, 'Simon Surreiller' novels, which I had put to one side ready to buy from work. Then for some reason, the reality of the situation kicked in and not being able to justify adding that many physical books to my shelves, I put them all out for sale and watched them disappear from my grasp!

I have never even checked out her non-fiction writing. as that isn't one of my favourite genres. However both the books you mention sound really good and I was also taken with one of the others - 'The Library Book'. Who knows, you may have an occasional non-fiction convert on your hands now!

Nice Post :)

TracyK said...

I haven't been successful at reading more than one fiction book at a time (and I often get stalled on nonfiction if I read it with anything else). I think it is a good idea but just can't sustain it.

I started the 2nd Merrily Watkins book -- Midwinter of the Spirit -- because I saw your comments on the the 4th book here. I haven't totally committed to it yet because I am so sure if it is too paranormal for me. But I mostly like the way she writes, even if the books are very long.

I hope you share your thoughts on the Ellis Peters' books, as I haven't read them yet.

Cath said...

Pat: Yeah, it's the same for me with books I can't put down. It's so rare. The books I've read so far this year have mostly been good, I've read on happily, but none of them have been 'special special' if you know what I mean.

Margaret: I liked that idea too and so far it's working well. It does mean I have five books on the go but I'm not actually reading them all at the same time. Two have been put to one side to carry on with in a few days or weeks.

As to Merrily Watkins, I'll not comment as I'll be reviewing that one in a few days, or possibly next week.

Pam: I think you intended this comment for my Life According to Literature post but thank you! :-)

Yvonne: Yes, I know loads of people who prefer to read only one book at time and sometimes I do too. I also know a lot who're like me and usually have more than one. I must say though that five is a lot more than I would normally have on the go at one time.

I think I probably would have bought the SS books by Susan Hill had I seen them in a charity shop, but understand completely why you didn't. Her non-fiction is a delight, she writes so beautifully on books, the countryside, life.

Thank you. I hope you have a good week.

Tracy: I definitely would not read two crime books at the same time. Imagine the confusion! LOL My other books tend to be non-fiction, or of a totally different genre.

I'll be reviewing the Merrily Watkins soon. Phil Rickman is a good writer but there are 'issues' shall we say...

The Cadfael review is mostly written, just need to read book 3 in the omnibus, which I will be doing soonish.

Thanks everyone for your lovely comments!

Sam said...

Sounds as if you off to a great start to 2020, Cath. I love the idea of dipping in and out of books as the mood takes you. It will be interesting to see if that ends up with you reading more books than normal, or fewer. I'm betting that the answer will be "more." If not, I'm betting that you will probably have enjoyed the year anyway, and developed some new reading habits in the process.

It bothers me to look on my shelves and see books I read twenty or thirty years ago that I remember loving even though I now can't remember any of the details. I picked up one this week that I read while in high school, a book that really changed my outlook on world politics, nuclear war, and the likelihood of surviving such a thing. I'm a little over half way through it right now, and absolutely none of what I've read so far was still in my memory. I suppose I remembered the general mood and tone of the book, and its overall message, but that was about it.

I'm going to be doing a lot of re-dipping this year, I suspect.

Cath said...

Sam: Thanks, yes, even though I'm not a fast reader I feel like I'm off to a pretty good start for 2020. I think it will be very interesting indeed to see how a more casual approach affects the number of books I read. I shan't mind either way but I wouldn't bet against 'more' either.

I too find I can't remember details of books I read years ago. But I always know if I've read it before (sometimes I'm not sure) because you get little ghostly reminders. Like with a movie you're not sure if you've seen before then something triggers your memory. I suppose when we've read thousands of books like us, our brains are just not trained to remember all those plots. I have vague memories of the Cadfael books I'm rereading, to the point where I remembered the culprit in the first book (but not the second), but I hadn't remembered how beautfully Ellis Peters wrote about 12th. century Shropshire and the monastries: it's such a joy. I read the series about 25 years ago and I think I've matured a lot since then and am getting things out of them that perhaps I didn't back then.

Nan said...

I'm absolutely delighted that you like the Rabbi Small books!!

Cath said...

Nan: And thank you for recommending them to me. Looking forward to reading more this year, I like how different they are.