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August/September Summary and Plans for October

I was away at the end of August so didn’t get the chance to summarise that month’s reading. This means I have combined two months into one massive list. As usual, all books are listed in order of enjoyment so if you share a taste in books with me you should look for recommendations towards the top of the list.

Books of the Month:

The Novel Cure: An A to Z of Literary RemediesThe View on the Way Down

Books Reviewed in August/September:

The Novel Cure by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin 

The View on the Way Down by Rebecca Wait 

The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling 

The Fish Can Sing by Halldór Laxness 

The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman 

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent 

Benediction by Kent Haruf  

Pecking Order by Chris Simms 

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud 

I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir 

Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland by Sarah Moss 

Harvest by Jim Crace 

Fortunate by Andrew JH Sharp 

Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason 

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo 

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan 

The Colour of Blood by Brian Moore stars21

DNF: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Plans for October

In the next couple of days I plan to read The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin so that I can finish my Booker shortlist reading and bring you my thoughts on the list as a whole before the winner is announced on 15th October.

Once I’ve finished my Booker reading I don’t have any firm plans, but I’m being drawn towards older books and hope to try a few modern classics. These are the books that are calling to me at the moment:

Therese Raquin by Emile Zola

Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell

The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

Beneath the Darkening Sky by Majok Tulba

The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally

I hope that you have a wonderful October!

12 replies on “August/September Summary and Plans for October”

That’s a lot of books, Jackie! I really didn’t like the Toibin at all, so I look forward to seeing what you make of it. ‘All the King’s Men’ is one I’ve been wanting to get around to for months so I might join you in reading that soon.

I’ve still got a couple of Booker shortlist books to read (Catton and Bulawayo) which I’ll hopefully get to before the winner is announced, but at the moment I’m thoroughly enjoying making my way through the Giller Prize longlist.

August and September have been fantastic reading months for me with a staggering six 5-star reads. Four of those were short story collections, which I won’t bore you with except to say Raymond Carver’s ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’ fully deserves its reputation as a modern classic. The two five star novels were Simon Van Booy’s ‘The Illusion of Separateness’ and Michael Winter’s ‘Minister Without Portfolio’. The latter is on the Giller longlist but sadly there doesn’t seem to be a British edition due anytime soon which is a shame as it is superb. I’d not read Winter before but his writing is dazzling – it has a kind of elemental beauty and grace with almost every sentence containing an insight or truth that stops you in your tracks.

Others I’ve enjoyed lately: I thought Lahiri’s ‘The Lowland’ was a cracking read, though perhaps a bit too slickly perfect, and a bit unambitious when compared to some other novels about the immigrant experience I’ve read lately.

Colin McAdam’s ‘A Beautiful Truth’ takes a huge risk by telling half of the story from the point of view of a chimpanzee, but succeeds brilliantly making it both poetic and heartbreaking.

Robert McGill’s ‘Once We Had a Country’ is a Canadian novel that does have a UK publisher (it’s due out in January) and is worth looking out for – it is about people living on a commune in the 70s but what I particularly enjoyed about it is the way the story is filtered through the medium of film (or TV) and shows how that has almost become the way we view the world, and how we often seem to trust that view entirely despite how easily manipulated and edited it is. It also works more traditional religion and belief into the story – it’s a book that has a lot to say about blind faith and naivety.

Anyway, a few more Giller books and the last couple of Booker books to read in October and then I’m really looking forward to a few Australian novels: Alex Miller’s ‘Coal Creek, Tim Winton’s ‘The Eyrie’ and Richard Flanagan’s ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’.

David, I thought it looked like a lot of books too! It is only 17 though so works out at about 2 books a week – it just shows how quickly they add up.

The Giller list appeals to me, but so many aren’t out over here – I need to get hold of an old longlist and work my way through that instead!

‘Once We Had a Country’ sounds fantastic and I’ll keep an eye out for that as it sounds like my sort of thing.

‘A Beautiful Truth’ also sounds interesting as the animal point-of-view is something I often enjoy.

Thanks for all the recommendations! I hope you enjoy the rest of your book prize reading.

Andi, I have high hopes for both books, but I did wonder if I was getting the “night” theme from some where? Perhaps I should dig my copy of Night by Elie Wiesel off the shelf too!

Diane, I highly recommend trying some Icelandic books – they are so different in style from other books. Fingers crossed you enjoy them as much as I do.

I admire not only the fact that you read so many books, but that you review each one of them quite thoroughly. I find that if I have a month where I manage to read a lot, I don’t have time to do all the reviews. And if I can’t read more than a handful of books, it usually means I am too busy to review anyway. I’m planning to read Saint-Exupery as well in October, so curious to see how you get on.

Marina, Many thanks for the kind words. I’ve just finished the Saint-Exupery and would love to compare notes. I’ll probably have my review up next week and will keep an eye out for yours.

Oh, I hadn’t heard that Daniel Woodrell had a new book out. That’s very exciting. I’ve read his Bayou Trilogy and Winter’s Bone (one of my favorite books). Have you read him before?

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