Normally I write this post as the month progresses, but I haven't this time. Instead, I have a pile of books I've read, with the Kindle squashed between them half way down. So although this is a long list (too long to go into detail about every one) it may yet not be complete. And the reason it's longer than usual - I had some holiday in July, plus I was laid up with a nasty cold for a few days, which piled them on, and finally, many of them are fairly lightweight, easy, comforting reads. Not all though. So - not in chronological order - here are (some of) the books I read in July.
Alexander McCall Smith:
The Sunday Philosophy Club
The Forgotten Affairs of Youth
The Charming Quirks of Others
The Lost Art of Gratitude
The Comfort of Saturdays
Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
A half dozen Isabel Dalhousie novels - comfort reading at its finest, and you learn about a very different Edinburgh from Ian Rankin's. I am counting this as acclimatisation for my new External Examining job there.
Graham Masterton Ghost Music
Tiresome and repetitive ghost story, which I picked up because I thought it was by someone else entirely. It's American, but enlivened by a scene in a London pub in which there is waitress service. Research, Graham.
Ann Grainger A Particular Eye for Villainy
The first of the Ben and Lizzie Ross Victorian detective series. Again, undemanding, comforting stuff.
All the above were from the local library. Then while I was in Lewes at the beginning of the month, I picked up three in the Oxfam shop:
Tessa Hadley The Past
Quite pleased that I picked up the - presumably deliberate - reference to The Go-Between - because this is very much a novel about how the past is another country. One of those books about family relationships and secrets - the biggest of which we are left to work out for ourselves - with engaging characters.
Michele Hanson What the Grown Ups Were Doing
Memoir of growing up in a comfortably off, non-observant Jewish family in Ruislip. I found it rather dull, and thought it skirted round the big or interesting issues, but Jim is currently finding it hilariuous, so there you are.
Charles Loft Last Trains: Dr Beeching and the Death of Rural England
Rather a sensational title for a sober, but very readable, account of government policy on the railways from the end of the second world war to privatisation, which is to a degree an exculpation of the maligned doctor. What leapt out at me was the fact that when lines like the Bluebell were closed, many of those campaigning for and working on their subsequent preservation were teenagers - just as they were on the canals. Somehow that seems a very important thing to bear in mind.
And then there were the emergency and/or impulse Kindle purchases:
Laura James Odd Girl Out
Memoir of growing up autistic and female. After the shock of recognition it's almost strangely dull, because it was 90% like reading about myself. It's good to be reminded though that I'm not alone, and it's not all my fault.
The Truth About Melody Browne
I Found You
The Third Wife
Jewell is quite good at suspense and weirdish chick-thrillers (which I think may be her later work); less enjoyable on the family stuff which tends towards the mawkish. The Girls was particularly good.
D.S. Butler Bring Them Home
Police thing about missing children. I haven't bothered reading any more by them.
Damian Boyd Dead Lock
Only bought it because it had a picture of a lock. Not very good.
Joanne Harris Different Class
Fabulous, sinister, funny and very sad book with some marvellous characters.
Life on the down slope
6 days ago