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Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week? | Books


Welcome to this week’s blogpost. Here’s our roundup of your comments and photos from the last week.

Let’s start on a cheerful note from Magrat123, who is “on a PD James audiobook binge”:

She is to crime fiction what Dorothy Dunnett is to historical fiction; intricate plots embedded in masterly prose. Consider this superbly observed cat from The Black Tower:

“Jeoffrey was a barrel-shaped tabby with a tail like a fox’s brush who looked as if his life were dedicated less to the service of his creator than to the gratification of feline lusts. He gave Anstey a disagreeable look compounded of long suffering and disgust and leapt with lightness and precision on to Carwardine’s lap, where he was ill-received. Gratified at Carwardine’s obvious reluctance to acquire him, he settled down with much purring and foot padding and permitted his eyes to close.”

The cat is not important to the story, but adds to the air of menace and mounting sense that all is not as benign and compassionate as it seems at Toynton Grange home for the (comparatively) young disabled.

Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist “raced to a satisfying conclusion,” says BobHammond2:

An amusing, endearing read about Macon Leary’s slow awakening from a stultifying, safety-first life. I’ve seen Tyler’s writing described as ‘cosy’ but the book was a lot more accomplished than that. There was a lot packed into it and I enjoyed the Baltimore setting, the account of the lead character’s working life as a travel writer, its examination of family relationships, even the portrayal of the training of Macon’s troubled dog Edward.

Lorraine147 has just finished Jagua Nana by Cyprian Ekwensi:

I’m trying to expand my reading out from European white authors so I bought this out of a sense of duty but really enjoyed the colour, movement and smells. Felt like I’d had a little trip to Lagos and Jagwa is a character to enjoy, even if I wasn’t entirely convinced by the way she develops. Still, a recommended and enjoyable read.

Bayou Folk by Kate Chopin is bedding down well for AbsoluteBeginner76:

A very interesting realist collection of short stories set in central Louisiana and New Orleans. I read The Awakening many years ago, lulled in by siren voices that hyped the novel and I found it rather uninspiring. Returning to Chopin this month, I can see right away that she is a important female southern voice, importantly a Catholic one, in a region that was struggling to shake off the legacy of the civil war.

Manda Scott’s “very entertaining” Boudica Quartet has been a lucky find for MaggieMaggieB:

I came across a box of free books left by someone’s garden gate and found Scott’s very entertaining Boudica quartet. I am now on the third volume Dreaming the Hound. She explains in her notes that she researched as well as she could and does warn the reader not to expect historical accuracy as it would not be possible. Our Warrior Queen is about to try to rally the Iceni to rise against the invaders after spending many years on Mona (Anglesea). I am finding the stories every bit as good as Mary Stewart’s Arthurian series.

An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine has been worth waiting for, says lipreader:

Sometimes I know I am going to love a book so it’s important to wait until the right time to read it. An Unnecessary Woman is that kind of book and I’m glad I was patient. It’s about an elderly divorced woman in Beirut who spends her time translating books into Arabic that she then puts away and never shares. It’s about books and solitude and ageing and translation and war and … and … I did indeed love it.

Time for some questions. BaddHamster is curious about authors that you have to read when you’re young:

Forgive me if this is repetition (very little is original nowadays), but I’d be curious to know what authors/books people loved when a bit younger, but now think are really more of a young woman’s/man’s game. For me, the two authors that stand out are Hemingway and Bret Easton Ellis … Not that I don’t still think they’re excellent in their ways, but if I hadn’t come across them as a youth, I doubt I’d bother with either now.

TomMooney wants to know about Ireland, after reading The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes:

It’s terrific so far. Yet another brilliant contemporary Irish prose stylist… What the hell are putting in the water over there?

FredoGumbo wants to know whether to continue reading 2666 by Roberto Bolaño:

Nearly 100 pages in and not sure what I think yet. Anybody got the pros and cons of this massive book before I fully commit to it?

And Larts has put forward a provocation about the endings of novels after finishing Confession with Blue Horses by Sophie Hardach:

While I enjoyed most of the novel and thought the depiction of life in GDR was convincing and authentic, the conclusion left me wondering whether I am right to think that many contemporary novels have weedy, predictable endings. This novel ended in a “happy ever after” sort of way that seemed convenient and easy rather than satisfying or thoughtful. Then I thought back to Great Expectations and Dickens’ twatting about with the ending of that novel – it’s not just contemporary novels is it?

Finally, a moment in paradise. GELBuck has been reading Summer Lightning by PG Wodehouse:

The plot is as intricate and delicately crafted as you would expect, although I find most Wodehouse plots ultimately forgettable because, really, it’s all about the language and his wonderful turns of phrase. Here is Galahad advising Lord Emsworth about the appropriate dress code for accusing a neighbour (wrongly) of stealing a prize pig: “You don’t need a hat to tax a man with stealing a pig.” Advice I am sure we can all take to heart.

Impossible to argue with that.

Interesting links about books and reading

If you’re on Instagram, now you can share your reads with us: simply tag your posts with the hashtag #GuardianBooks, and we’ll include a selection in this blog. Happy reading!


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