26 October 2007

reading matters

bedside books

It feels a bit weird, showing you my bed, you know.

Let’s not think too much on that. Try and focus on the reading matter on the bedside table.

I’m on a roll at the moment, reading some of the best books I’ve come across in years.

First up was Bill Bryson’s biography of Shakespeare which I gobbled down in a matter of days. Fast, no-nonsense and thoroughly engaging, and has been added to the growing pile of bard biographies on our shelf.

I quickly followed this with the new Tracy Chevalier book Burning Bright which I’ve wanted to read for a few months now so I bought it for Mr Soup for his birthday (along with The Kite Runner which I had to return to the library when I was halfway through. I put so much love and thought into my partner’s presents, don’t I?) Anyway, it was quite mesmerising (the Chevalier, I haven’t made it back to the Kite Runner yet) and I promptly put two more of Chevalier’s books on hold at the library (The Lady and the Unicorn and Falling Angels).

At the same time as I was reading those two, as seen on my bedside table, I was listening to Anita Shreve’s Light on Snow on audio book in the car. I’d listened to another Shreve recently, called something totally forgettable like Where or When and it was abysmal. You know, in my humble opinion. Boring, pointless, occasionally histrionic and with odd bits of sex and rude language abruptly thrown in here and there as if to garner a certain corner of the market. So why did I borrow another Anita Shreve from the library? Well, I was desperate and it was either that or another Maeve Binchy. The shelf was bare. Actually speaking of Binchy, I did listen to one of hers called Scarlet Feather, read by her cousin and it was delightful. And the accents were contagious so I found myself sounding like a leprechaun for a couple of weeks.
Anyway, back to Shreve - Light on Snow was great, despite my low expectations. The narrator is a young girl and it’s partly a coming of age tale, partly a straight story about love and tragedy and healing. Recommended for a light, quick read.

Next I moved onto the wonderful Salley Vickers and the only novel of hers I hadn’t read thus far, Mr Golightly’s Holiday. Vickers is such an intelligent, engaging writer and this book is very richly layered. It’d be a wonderful book group book. At first you think it’s just a quiet, gentle book about life in a village from the point of view of a visitor come for the summer. But as you read on, little hints are dropped such as the visitor’s ‘great work’ and his sadness for his dead son and you realise something else is at play. Go read this one and then email me with your thoughts. (I now officially love all of Vickers’ books).

Now I’m reading Charmian Clift’s book Mermaid Singing for bookgroup next month. I’m only on the second chapter so far but it’s making me want to chuck it all in and go live on a Greek island. As you do. Well, as Charmian Clift and George Johnston and their children do. Every time I hear Clift’s name I think of my dear ex neighbour who was quietly obsessed with her and had collected every piece of writing Clift ever produced, done lots of extra research on her life and was considering a deeper study thesis type thing. I wonder if she ever did.

And in the car? Listening to the long, rambling and thoroughly enjoyable White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I think if I were reading this I’d have given up by now. There is a very slow bit early on and I can well see how people may toss it aside in impatience. A touch of judicious editing would have helped, again in my ever so humble opinion. However I’m currently on tape 14 of 16 so am at the point where I can’t wait until the next time I’m in the car alone so I can hear the next bit. I’ve wanted to read this novel for years, ever since it first came out to all that hype and excitement and all those awards. Smith’s two other novels, On Beauty and The Autograph Man were among the stack of books Hilary the Blogless generously gave me (thanks again Hilary), so I’m looking forward to reading those this summer.

As for tomorrow?

Tomorrow I’ll be running a craft market stall all day and in the evening we’ll be celebrating with a plate of baked beans.

26 comments:

BabelBabe said...

every post you write makes me love you a teeny bit more. You turned me on to Vickers and i will be forever grateful. and i feel the same way as you about most of Shreve - altho I did enjoy Fortune's Rocks well enough.

I like the banner. and i am stealing this post idea because i am in a rut.

Betsy said...

Thanks for this post, it's given me lots of new ideas of books to read about on amazon.com when I should be doing other things (homework, mainly)..

Susan said...

I went through a Charmian Clift obsession in my mid-20's. Bought and read everything I could lay my hands on by her. I think it's worn off because I have Nadia Wheatley's "The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift" on my bookshelf unread (yet).

Susan said...

ytxI went through a Charmian Clift obsession in my mid-20's. Bought and read everything I could lay my hands on by her. I think it's worn off because I have Nadia Wheatley's "The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift" on my bookshelf unread (yet).

Megan said...

My goodness, but you have beautiful bed linen.

M said...

Aaah, a comfy bed, books, cup of tea and a shaft of light gently illuminating the whole scene. Heaven.

Kim said...

1. I had my own fleeting obsession with Charmian Clift because of adoption and all that comes with that, but have never read anything by her.

2. I loved White Teeth. LOVED. I think I read it around the same time as I read The sound of one hand clapping and was just in a lovely pregnant (with Felix) zone of good reading and the excitement of a new life in my belly.

3. I am a little bit envious of the craft market. But not the bit about it being for all day. Mine was meant to be tonight for two hours. But there's thunder and lightening here at the moment so maybe it was all for the best that it fell through.

4. "I found myself sounding like a leprechaun for a couple of weeks" - gotta find me a piece of that.

5. I'm really surprised that the likes of you and BabBab read Maeve Binchy and Anita Shreve. I always thought they were reserved for the menopause/tennis club set.

zoesquid said...

You must get back to the Kite Runner. Trust me - its worth another trip to the library. What gorgeous bed linen. Happy Anniversary!

Victoria said...

I was obssessed with Charmain Clift when pregnant with my first child, I read everything about and by her, it fitted in with my ambivelant thoughts on becoming a mother!!

Suse said...

Babelbabe - how you can steal this idea? Every single post of yours is about what you're reading. I stole it from YOU!

Betsy, Mega and M, you're welcome. Now Betsy, get back to your homework.

Susan - I might have to get that Wheatley book.

Kim - I don't READ Shreve and Binchy, I LISTEN TO them in the car. Which is a whole different ballgame.

Zoesquid - I gave it to my husband for his birthday so I could finish it at my leisure and not have to rely on the library and its pesky other patrons wanting to read it. I'll get back to it one day.

Re the bed linen, you might recognise the op shop pillowcases from the archives. One of my better scores.

Suse said...

Oops, missed your comment Victoria. It seems many people have Charmian Clift obsessions, I'm discovering.

Lazy cow said...

Loved Scarlet Feather and also listened to it the first 1/2 the car recently, but had to return it. I found an op shop copy soon after and it just wasn't the same. I kept whispering the dialogue in an Irish accent:-) I'm going through a Binchy phase at the moment, comfort reading.
Also adored Charmaine Clift in my 20s (loathed George Johnson though as was forced to read My Brother Jack for HSC English), and was devastated to discover she committed suicide. She'd portrayed her life as being idyllic.

Marg said...

Definitely need to get back to the Kite Runner. I was a bit disappointed with the Chevalier book, but I still will keep reading her at this point.

Daisy said...

I never thought to listen to audio books - and in the car is a great idea. I have no time to read with Master 4mths and I'm back at work 2 days so what I great idea. I shall check out that area on "library day wednesday".

Anonymous said...

I had to look up your Charmian Clift reference, as I am from the UK and had not heard of her. When I googled the name, an entry came up for a Nadia Wheatley, who spent 21 yrs researching her. The book came out in 2001. Maybe it is the same person?

I have read the A.Shreve novel, loved it. I have to admit to liking her earlier ones too but and I couldn't get into the latest T. Chevalier. I started reading her with Virgin Blue. As for Salley Vickers, I love her books. I think that she was quite ill before the Golightly book came out.

Still baking your 5 cup cake variations.
Carole

City Girl said...

The Lady and the Unicorn is a very good read. It was one that I tore through in two days, which I rarely do. It will be time well spent, I promise you!

Elizabeth said...

It's funny, I read White Teeth when it first came out for book club and I can barely remember what it's about. The Kite Runner sticks though, as does Mr. Golightly's Holiday, my first Sally Vickers.
I knew you'd have toile linens!
Oh and Happy Anniversary!

Molly said...

The Kite Runner is worth going back to. I got a slow start on it, but after the first fifty pages it just takes off. Last thing I need is more Must Reads to add to the list but you make these sound so inviting.....

Stacey (Sheeps Clothing) said...

Wow, I am so pleased you did this post about your reading. I just posted yesterday looking for holiday reading suggestions and here are heaps for me to consider.
I ploughed through White Teeth, even though it was boring at the start and was glad I stuck with it. As for her next book, I think it was called the Autograph Man or something, I couldn't even get past the first 15 pages. Maybe she's a one book wonder??

herhimnbryn said...

Sally Vickers has been a favourite for yrs now. Glad you enjoyed Mr G's Holiday. I sighed contentedly when I'd finished reading it.

sarah said...

Did you read Shreve's "Weight of Water?" I lived on the island where the story is set. I'm on a good run of reading right now as well--just read "Loving Frank" about Frank Lloyd Wright and his lover feminist Mamah Borthwick Cheney. I"m also about to dive into Laurel Ulrich's new book "Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History".

Lesley (El Zed) said...

A note from the non-tennis-playing menopause set (!): Couldn't get through White Teeth, but loved The Kite Runner. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it is one of the best books I've read in the past few years. Shreve would be okay for a long plane ride, when you want a good yarn without too much of a challenge. I don't reckon I'm old enough yet for Binchy or Bryson, even in the car!
I'll make a note of Clift and Vickers, though - thanks for the recommendations.

laurie said...

did you happen to read Tara Road? i thought that was a good Binchy read from some years ago. just happened to see the DVD at the video shop last week, rented it. i thought it was good. you may be interested to check it out.

jorth said...

I've tossed White Teeth aside in impatience. It was beautifully written, but just.taking.so.long.to.go.nowhere.

I'm sure in five years time I'll pick it up and zoom throught it, unable to put it down. It happened with Last Orders and with Possession, so here's hoping!

nutmeg said...

Loved the sneaky peak of your bedside table - mine's a little matching at the moment as I a have Bryson's Shakespeare clutering mine. I read the first two pages in the bookshop and bought it instantly.

Quite a while ago now I read a book called Searching For Charmain (should be on my librarything list). I remember enjoying it - a a daughter's quest to "discover" her mother, Charmain Clift.

It's so good to read one good book after another after another!

Barbara said...

Love to read about other people's reading. I read Anita Shreve's light on snow first and loved it's haunting quality. Got 3 more from the library but all went back unread past 1st chapter. It's as if they were all written by different people. Odd. I'll try Bill Bryson Shakespeare as I think he's consistenly good. Just finishing Down Under. V funny.