Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Latest reads

I really don't get to read as much as I would like. It's funny, because I watch almost no television at all, I haven't watched a show on TV for weeks and weeks, though I have watched the odd DVD. I have done a lot of marking and card making and these days, my kids aren't in bed all that early. When they were little, everyone was in bed by 7.30 and the evenings stretched before us, hours for reading or watching TV. Now, Toby is up until at least 9 and Joss 9.30. While they aren't exactly requiring constant supervision, there is often homework or an assignment to help with or some hideous not to my taste show they are watching.

I'm not complaining, just realising that this is not a stage in my life when I have endless hours of free time. Still, as reading is definitely a priority for me, I do manage to squeeze a fair amount of it in, trying not to be rude and reading at the table or when I should be talking to people.

We read Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible for book club a few months ago and I was encouraged to read her latest book, The Lacuna. I'm so glad I did because it has overtaken The Bean Trees and Prodigal Summer as my favourite of her books. An historical novel set in Mexico and North Carolina it is told through the diaries of a young man who moves from the States to Mexico with his mother who is always looking for a wealthy man to love and take care of her. The young man ends up working for Diego Rivera and forming a lasting friendship with Rivera's wife, Frida Kahlo. He worked as a cook and typist for Trotsky and was there when he was killed. He leaves Mexico and settles, very happily at first, in North Carolina where he becomes a popular novelist, before being investigated by the House un-American Activities Committee. Fascinating times, beautiful places and extraordinary people, the Lacuna was also a lovely look at the importance of relationships, not necessarily romantic ones.

Beneath the Darkening Sky is one of Get Reading!'s  50 books you can't put down for this year. It is also pretty much the only one that appealed to me, at least at first glance. A story about a young boy who witnesses the death of his father before he is kidnapped and forced to become a boy soldier, cannot be a light and pleasant read. This book is brutal and frightening but it is beautiful too. Majok Tulba was too short to be taken when the rebels came to his village in South Sudan and he escaped to refugee camps and, finally, Australia. We have lots of new Australians in Wagga who were refugees from different parts of Africa and I think it is really important that their stories are told and that we care to listen.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (not the funny David Mitchell) is a fabulous book with six separate but linked stories that take us from the 1850s through to a post-apocalyptic future and then back again. I really enjoyed the historical stories and the sci-fi one as well. I found the book clever and am very interested to see how it turns out as a film.

I have also been reading The Unknown Terrorist by Richard Flanagan. It is my book club book for the month and is man stuff. I haven't really disliked it, but the setting and characters are not what I would usually enjoy and I don't think I would read it if it wasn't for book club. I'll let you know what everyone else thought after Wednesday's meeting.

While I have been reading all these books, I have had Bleak House going on my phone. I have read 3,857 out of 5,421 phone-sized pages! I have loved them all. Dickens wrote such mad, tender, funny, mysterious and romantic books!

I have joined goodreads, though I have put more reviews on the library's account than I have on mine as yet. I do plan on getting to it....

1 comment:

  1. The only book (apart from Bleak House) I have read from your recent reading list, is The Unknown Terrorist - I loved it! I don't know why you call it a "man" book? I thought it was an interesting story, easy to read and had a message - things are not what they seem... People can't always be trusted... There is often another agenda.... and I found it quite plausible. I'll have to wait till after Wednesday to see what the other members of your book club thought.