A few days ago Simon decided to “do a little this-book-that-book-this-book-that-book sort of post that I hope you’ll copy on your own blogs. A quick bit of fun…”
He had a wonderful list, and since then I have read many more.
And now, of course, I must add my own.
The book I’m currently reading
“Our favourite novelists make something thrilling out of the recognisable. They make real a story that, however unlike our own life it might seem, can reach the humanity common to us all – that is the magic of the novel. Faulks on Fiction takes a look at the British novel through its human characters – the heroes, lovers, snobs and villains.”
I can never resist books about books, and this one was infuriating and wonderful in pretty much equal parts.
The last book I finished
“In the bustling harbour city of Port Said, Nellie witnesses a mysterious death and this makes her a target for a killer and involves her in international intrigue with the fate of nations at stake. On her journey from the Land of the Pharaohs to the exotic Orient, Nellie meets the most famous magicians in the world, legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt, and Frederick Selous, the real life inspiration for Rider Haggard’s hero in King Solomon’s Mines and for Indiana Jones. As magicians conjure the fantasy and a spiritualist raises the dead, Nellie discovers that the deadly plot begun in Egypt has tentacles around the world.”
Maybe not great literature, but definitely great entertainment. In a rare burst of efficiency I finished reading and wrote about the book (in the post before this one) on the same day.
The next book I want to read
“Map of a Nation tells the story of the creation of the Ordnance Survey map – the first complete, accurate, affordable map of the British Isles. The OS is a much beloved British institution, and “Map of a Nation” is, amazingly, the first popular history to tell the story of the map and the men who dreamt and delivered it from its inception in 1791, right through to the OS MasterMap of the present day: a vast digital database. The Ordnance Survey’s history is one of political revolutions, rebellions, and regional unions that altered the shape and identity of the United Kingdom over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It’s also a deliciously readable account of one of the great untold British adventure stories, featuring intrepid individuals lugging brass theodolites up mountains to make the country visible to itself for the first time.”
I picked this up in the library because it was so beautiful, not really meaning to bring it home. But it was just so readable, and it brought back memories of when I was thirteen years old and had aspirations of becoming a cartographer.
The last book I bought
“This newly translated collection of stories brilliantly evokes the shifting scenes and restlessness of summer. A professor arrives in a beautiful Spanish village only to find that her host has left and she must cope with fractious neighbours alone; a holiday on a Finnish Island is thrown into disarray when a disconcerting young boy arrives; an artist returns to an old flat to discover that her life has been eerily usurped. Philosophical and profound, but with the deceptive lightness that is her hallmark, ‘Travelling Light’ is guaranteed to surprise and transport.”
I’m not supposed to be buying books until I have a new job. And I’m not buying new books but I have to take an occasional look in charity shops and secondhand bookshops. A collection of short stories by Tove Jansson on a charity shop shelf priced at just £1 was something that I just couldn’t resist.
The last book I was given
“As she sits in her Bloomsbury home, with her two birds for company, elderly Harriet Baxter sets out to relate the story of her acquaintance, nearly four decades previously, with Ned Gillespie, a talented artist who never achieved the fame she maintains he deserved. Back in 1888, the young, art-loving, Harriet arrives in Glasgow at the time of the International Exhibition. After a chance encounter she befriends the Gillespie family and soon becomes a fixture in all of their lives. But when tragedy strikes – leading to a notorious criminal trial – the promise and certainties of this world all too rapidly disorientate into mystery and deception.”
I loved Jane Harris’s first novel, I heard great things about her second, and so I was delighted to win this from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme. It arrived this morning, and it is absolutely beautiful.