And… the other books for 2008

December 31, 2008 at 5:48 pm 2 comments

Well, I’ve pretty much lost inspiration for this blog as I scramble to finish my phd, but who knows what will happen in the new year? So here are the non-thesis related books I’ve read this year since I stopped counting. Probably in roughly reverse order…

The Virgin in the Garden, A. S. Byatt. Finished this today. I bought it in Leeds to read over Christmas. Partly because it was big and fat and dense, and partly because I’ve been meaning to read it for ages. I read book four in this quartet, A Whistling Woman, four years ago, and it’s starting to make a lot more sense now. I found The Virgin in the Garden to be slightly hard to get into, and irritatingly detailed in places, but I can see why so many people I respect have told me it’s a work of genius. It’s set in Yorkshire, and tells of the adolescence of a very clever/educated girl, as well as the experiences of the very clever/educated/slightly mad family and colleagues who surround her. Centred around a play retelling the life of Elizabeth I. And now I definitely want to read the other two books…

The King Arthur Trilogy, Kevin Crossley-Holland. This consists of The Seeing Stone, At the Crossing Places, and The King of Middle March. I loved them all, especially the first and the last. The middle one really is about ‘crossing places’ and interim times, and once you get used to this it’s good as well, and relates quite nicely to the middle section of the Morte D’Arthur, in which random knights go round in circles on random quests to no particular plot development… (What I mean to say is, it’s clever how he does this.) If you like the Middle Ages you absolutely have to read these books – they are beautiful and light and fresh and I loved them. (I ordered these on Amazon for a rainy day.)

Gatty’s Tale, Kevin Crossley Holland.

Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell. Bought this in the Nice airport, as the most appealing English book they had. It’s about a boy growing up in the UK in the 80s. I quite liked it – funny and wry and slightly depressing. Some nice descriptions of stammering.

Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. A perfect, glowing book written in the voice of an aging preacher, writing for his seven year old son whom he will never see grow up. One of my favourite books I read this year. I ordered this after coming across praise of it on several blogs.

Oh Pioneers. Willa Cather. Bought this in Salt Lake City as it felt appropriate to my surroundings. It was lovely, just as My Antonia was. I would love to read everything Cather ever wrote.

The Last Magician, Janette Turner Hospital. I bought this on sale in the Leeds University Bookshop, because of it’s Dante references. It’s sort of a mystery, superimposed on Sydney, superimposed on Dante’s Inferno. One of the characters is a brilliant photographer/film maker. A childhood tragedy binding all the characters together is slowly uncovered. Sort of terrifying and lovely and nostalgic all at once.

After Dark, Haruki Murakami. My friend Vic, who I was staying with in Leeds, lent this to me. I didn’t like it as much as Kafka on the Shore, but still enjoyed it.

The Ladies of Grace Adeiu, Susannah Clarke. Bought this in the Munich airport, out of a minimal selection of English books. Very entertaining Victorian style retellings of fairytales.

The New York Trilogy, Paul Auster. This contains three short novels: The City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room. I liked how the stories echoed each other. Michael bought this one, and read it, and liked it.


Entry filed under: A. S. Byatt, David Mitchell, Janette Turner Hospital, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Marilynne Robinson, Murakami, Paul Auster, Susannah Clarke, Willa Cather.

Gatty’s Tale

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Happy New Year! « northern lights  |  January 1, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    […] P3 paragliding licences and zoomed around like birds. I almost finished my thesis, and read lots of books. M’s work is going […]

  • 2. tanabata  |  January 10, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    I started the new year off with After Dark and feel the same about it as you – not nearly as good as Kafka on the Shore.
    Hope 2009 is a good year for you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Blog Stats

  • 4,849 hits

%d bloggers like this: