Sunday 3 September 2023

Books read in August

Despite all that's been going on this last month, I still managed to read 10 books. Of course, it could be 'because' of it all I've read 10 books... they do make a good escape from reality!

Anyhow, the books:

65. My Sister's Grave - Robert Dugoni

66. The Murder of Mr. Wickham - Claudia Gray

67. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie (a reread and very good) 

68. The Left-handed Booksellers of London - Garth Nix

69. A Murder of Crows - Sarah Yarwood-Lovett 

70.  The People on Platform 5 - Clare Pooley. I've nabbed the synopsis from Goodreads for speed.

Every day Iona Iverson, a larger-than-life magazine advice columnist, travels the ten stops from Hampton Court to Waterloo Station by train, accompanied by her dog, Lulu. Every day she sees the same people, whom she knows only by nickname: Impossibly-Pretty-Bookworm and Terribly-Lonely-Teenager. Of course, they never speak. Seasoned commuters never do.

Then one morning, the man she calls Smart-But-Sexist-Manspreader chokes on a grape right in front of her. He’d have died were it not for the timely intervention of Sanjay, a nurse, who gives him the Heimlich maneuver. This single event starts a chain reaction, and an eclectic group of people with almost nothing in common except their commute discover that a chance encounter can blossom into much more. It turns out that talking to strangers can teach you about the world around you--and even more about yourself.

I enjoyed this immensely. I'm rapidly developing a taste for this kind of character-based contemporary fiction. It's a 'found family' tale of unlikely people who slowly become friends and form a real support network. Secrets abound and personal decisions and discoveries need to be made. It's well written and I felt very involved in the lives of all of the characters. Nice one.

71. Holy Ghosts - edited by Fiona Snailham is another of the British Libraries' weird collections. There were several stand-out stories in this but quite a few others I'd already read or weren't that great so overall a bit disappointing but fine for anyone who hasn't read 'any' churchy weird fiction at all. 

72. Lady Susan by Jane Austen is not one of her main six novels of course, it's an epistolary novella about a woman who is pretty awful. She foists herself on family for long visits and then sets about scheming to make husbands fall in love with her, thereby causing as much chaos as she can. It was very, very good. 

73. Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke. 

This is classic science fiction, published the year of my birth, 1953. 

When the silent spacecraft arrived and took the light from the world, no one knew what to expect. But, although the Overlords kept themselves hidden from man, they had come to unite a warring world and to offer an end to poverty and crime. When they finally showed themselves it was a shock, but one that humankind could now cope with, and an era of peace, prosperity and endless leisure began.

These older, classic sci-fi yarns don't always work for me but this one did. I thoroughly enjoyed this speculation on what would happen if an alien race suddenly appeared and demanded we stop warring with each other. Things begin to happen of course and it's intriguing and makes you think. I wasn't mad about the outcome but there you go. Well written and very readable indeed.

74. The Accidental Detectorist - Nigel Richardson.

This, my only non-fiction read for August, was just delightful. The author, a travel writer, decides to take up metal detecting during lockdown. He joins other detectorists to learn what to look for, which equipment he needs, where to search (nowhere where you haven't got the relevant permissions in place) and so on. It was so fascinating to read about the various people he meets who do this, how welcoming they are are and how they go about the countryside digging it up. You can't say you're a detectorist unless you've found a 'hammered' appparently - this is a sort of handmade coin from before they started minting properly. Poor Nigel has awful trouble finding one while all around him are digging them up by the ton. There's a nice amount of history in the book, interesting facts about hoards that have been discovered, that sort of thing. This was my favourite read of the month and made me head to the BBC's iPlayer to try their series 'Detectorists' starring Toby Jones, Mackenzie Crook and Rachel Stirling (Diana Rigg's daughter). It's charming and very British. This is a book I highly recommend if you like 'quirky British'.

Anyway, it' nice to be back after a two week blogging break and an odd two weeks it's been. When the medical profession describes something you have as 'interesting' it's never a Good Thing. Hubby's leg is now on the mend but although he had cellulitis we have no idea what caused it or where the open wound came from a week after he was diagnosed or why he needed 3 lots of serious antibiotics to rid himself of it. The theory is some kind of insect bite on the cellulitis area but, all in all, he feels like being 'interesting' is vastly over-rated and I'm inclined to agree!

I hope you had a good reading month in August? I'm delighted to welcome in September. Although it's not officially autumn until the 21st. I do think that once September arrives summer is more or less behind us and that's fine with me. Not a fan of summer. 

Happy September reading! I shall be thinking about what I want to read this autumn and perhaps do a post about it soon.


Margot Kinberg said...

I'm glad your husband is doing better, Cath - that's such a relief! I know what you mean about odd times, too. That's a good way to describe it when those sorts of weeks hit us. You did have some interesting reads this month. Such a good mix of fiction, non-fiction, and genres. I think that sort of varied reading is the most engaging.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

With my sister-in-law's many illnesses, last time she was admitted to hospital, the general consultant who assessed her, described her several times as 'complex', so that's definitely something for her to live up to going forward! So pleased that P is on the mend though :)

"My Sister's Grave" and "A Murder Of Crows" are already added to my wish list, with "The People On Platform 5" about to join them.

Like yourself, I do enjoy an eclectic mix of reading, albeit that I don't partake of non-fiction in the way that you do. I always used to shy away from anything which was too contemporary, apart from thriller/mystery/murders. However, I too, have recently begun to embrace some of the more character centric, general fiction in the genre. I can't decide if I am becoming more open-minded in my reading, or if the new breed of authors are so much more eloquent with their descriptive writing - perhaps a little of each?

You mentioned the arrival of Autumn and now you have really jinxed things, as yesterday and today have been red hot and the rest of the week is supposed to be wall-to-wall sunshine with temperatures in the high twenties. Perhaps when the Christmas displays are all out in the shops and garden centres, the weather might work out that it should be cooling down a little!

Happy September reading :)

Sam said...

Welcome back, Cath. I hope things are going better for you and your husband now.

The Accidental Detectorists immediately caught my eye because I'm such a big fan of the TV series you mentioned. Toby Jones is a remarkably talented actor, and he was the reason that I first decided to watch the series, but I quickly came to appreciate the rest of the cast. As you say, "quirky British" at its best. I still own two metal detectors myself, and until I finally figured out that my knees would no longer allow all that squatting and bending I carried one in the trunk of my car at all times just in case I stumbled upon a site being prepared for construction. Oftentimes the surface had been scraped and leveled, thereby exposing some nice coins that had been hidden for a long, long time.

Anyway, enough of that. The book is one I'm going to do a search for as soon as I finish this comment.

The People on Platform 5 sounds like a feel-good novel, and who doesn't need one of those right now? I have to see if that one is available here, too.

Good to see that you're still finding unusual books; I count on you for that. :-)

Cath said...

Margot: Thank you. We're off to see the nurse again tomorrow to see what's going on under the dressing but I'm hoping this might be the last apt.

Yes, I do like to mix up the genres. Crime fiction remains my favourite but I like a smattering of other fiction and non-fiction to add a bit of spice.

Cath said...

Yvonne: Thank you. I think complex is worse than interesting. Although thinking about it 'complex' would definitely describe P's many and various health issues!

Glad to be of service re: adding to your tbr pile. LOL

I do actually think there's a new breed of author or possibly that so many more people are getting published these days and they're bringing with them a new kind of contemporary story which is not 'chick-lit' but something a bit more relevant to everyday life. And yes, they do seem to be able to write, most of them.

You're right I do seem to have jinxed the arrival of autumn. Sorry! It's not too bad here, about 23 or 24 with a nice breeze.

Cath said...

Sam: Thank you!

I didn't know you had a bit of an interest in detectoring. How interesting. I don't think I'll be taking it up but I'm quite fascinated by the whole thing. Lots of interesting tales in this book and as you know Britain and the British I think you would enjoy it. We've only watched a couple of episodes of the TV series but plan to watch all three series in time.

Glad to be of service re finding unusual books!

Sam said...

Cath, I failed to mention that there's also a full-length Detectorists movie made with the same cast. I can't recall if they included that with the final season or not, but I think they may have. Just checked my library system...neither book is available there, so I'll do a bookstore search later on.

TracyK said...

I saw that you were reading The Accidental Detectorist on Goodreads, and thought that it would be an interesting book. Your description confirms that.

I read Arthur C. Clarke when I was younger but I don't remember what I read. The thing I like about early science fiction is that it is usually a short length. He did write a lot of books over a lot of years.

I probably said this before, but I am interested in Lady Susan by Jane Austen because it is an epistolary novella. So I am glad you liked it. And now I am also interested in The People on Platform 5. You are ruining my resolve not to buy any books before I go to the booksale.

So glad to hear that your husband is doing much better. Medical problems are so worrisome and cause a lot of anxiety.

CLM said...

Glad Peter is better and you can both relax (I hope). I don't really like hot weather but I hate the end of summer because work becomes more intense in September when everyone is back from their holidays and trying to pretend they were focused all summer. Today is the last day of a three day weekend and I had great plans for getting up early and heading to the gym - which has not happened yet. On the other hand, I found a book I had been searching for for several weeks so that is good!

Lark said...

You never want to be an 'interesting' medical case, that's for sure! Glad your husband is doing so much better. I hope September is a better month for you both. And I thought Lady Susan was a fun novel...not as good as Austen's other books, but I still liked it. I also want to read People on Platform 5, though they changed the name when they published it in America to Iona Iverson's Rules For Commuting, which I think is kind of dumb. I like the original name better.

Kathy's Corner said...

Hi Cath, Glad to hear your husband Peter is doing well

A good choice of books and The People on Platform 5 is an interesting idea where strangers who would otherwise never have known about each other suddenly meet due to an event. I sometimes wonder about the office skyscrapers and apartments 30, 40 floors high and most of the people inside though they may be there for years never run into each other.

Science Fiction isn't a genre I know much about but I know Arthur C Clark is a giant in the field. I must check him out because I have this impression that older science fiction might be less technical and more character driven? but then again I won't know till I read.

Cath said...

Sam: Oh right, I didn't know about the film. I'll see if that's on the BBC iPlayer website too, if not I'll track it down one way or another. Thanks for the tip-off.

Mystica said...

Would have loved to get hold of thePooley read.

Cath said...

Tracy: The Accidental Dectorist certanly is an interesting book, it will definitely feature in my end of the year fav. non-fiction books.

Yes, Clarke was very prolific. I've read a few but can't hope to read them all and probably wouldn't want to anyway.

Sorry about ruining your resolve not to buy any books! I can't remember if you use a Kindle but if you do Lady Susan is free for that on Amazon.

Thank you, Peter's health has been an issue for years but every now and then we get some nasty little issue, usually in the summer.

Cath said...

Constance: Thanks. We always get some nasty issue in the summer (last year it was pneumonia for the 2nd. time) which is why I dislike it so much. This has been particularly unpleasant though.

Finding a lost book is always good though!

Cath said...

Lark: No, you really don't want to be an interesting medical case. It's greatly over-rated! Thank you. :-)

Yes, I saw they changed the name of The People on Platform 5. I hate it when they do that, like we're all stupid or something. But it's good read that I think you would like.

Cath said...

Kathy: Thank you, it's been a unpleasant interlude to be honest. One I'm glad is almost behind us.

Everything is so anonymous these days and the last thing you're supposed to do is speak to anyone on the London trains. That's a real no-no. But it's fine out in the shires, the times I've taken the train on long-distance trips I always got talking to people. I find it rather nice.

The only thing I'm not keen on with classic science fiction is that some of the male authors often put no women in them. It seems they could imagine all sorts when looking into the future, 'except' women playing any sort of major role in space travel. Clarke is one of the better ones but a recent book by Isaac Asimov 'really' annoyed me.

Cath said...

Mystica: I hope you do manage to get hold of The People on Platform 5 as it's a really fun read.

Ethan said...

Ten books is fantastic, and just so happens to be the number I read last month too. I'm glad to hear your husband is on the mend, though I'm sorry both of you had to go through the scary times that came with all the uncertainty.

Susan said...

I'm glad your husband is doing better. How frustrating that they can't tell you exactly what happened, though!

IONA IVERSON is a really fun read. We read it for book club and I wasn't expecting to like it so much since contemporary fiction isn't my favorite. It's such a delightful read, though! Funny, uplifting, sweet, etc. Glad you enjoyed it, too.

Cassie said...

'Interesting' is always the word that gets used for some of my issues as well, and it's... it's not nice so I feel for you! I'm glad to hear your husband's doing better!

The Accidental Detectorist sounds like a really interesting book, I've checked and my library have it so I've popped a reserve on it. I'm looking forward to reading it!

Cath said...

Ethan: Yes, 10 is pretty good and they were varied enough to keep me from getting bored too.

Thanks for your kind comments about my husband, yes he's doing ok now but we're not quite there yet.

And thanks too for stopping by!

Cath said...

Susan: Thank you. No, neither we nor the medical people have much of an idea what caused all this. Best guess is an insect bite but who knows really? It's quite frustrating.

I'm not a massive contemporary fiction reader either but some books surprise me and this one definitely did! I thnk I'll be a bit more willing to try more now.

Thanks for stopping by!

Cath said...

Cassie: 'Interesting' is just not what you want to hear is it? Doesn't fill you with confidence about the issue you have going away. Thank you, he's doing a lot better now.

Oh, I hope you enjoy The Accidental Detectorist, I thought it was just a joy and so interesting.

Thanks for stopping by to comment.