Cynthis Harrod-Eagles, Eowyn Ivey, Erin Morgenstern, Harriet Lane, Jonathan Coe, not doing housework, Patrick Gale, the ironing mountan
Can you ever read too many good books? It’s not even the end of February and this year’s reading list so far has already got enough brilliant reads for a Best Of 2013. It’s making me nervous, fate doesn’t allow you to continue having such good fortune and I dread to think what dross is in store for me in the coming months.
I’m an impatient reader and because I’ve got a serious book buying habit there’s always more to read on my overflowing shelves so I freely abandon books if I find them boring. So far this year there hasn’t been a single book I’ve felt like giving up (now that’s tempting fate, big time). The least enjoyable book of this year was a book club read, The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim by Jonathan Coe, which was superbly written but somehow didn’t engage me, though it was still interesting. I kicked off January with the wonderful The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, dazzlingly imaginative and so good that I immediately sent it on to my daughter in Le Mans because I knew she’d adore it too. Then there was one of Elaine Simpson-Long of Random Jottings ‘s recommendations, the Bill Slider books by Cynthia Harrod Eagles, sly, witty detective stories. Even better there are twelve of them. That was followed by Harriet Lane’s Alys Always, which is called a thriller on the cover, I wouldn’t necessarily agree but it’s a superbly assured book, concise, utterly readable, don’t want to put it down book.
I finally got my hands on Magnificent Obsession, another of Elaine’s favourite books and she’s right, it’s first class biography; that was followed by Waiting for Sunrise which isn’t William’s Boyd’s best book in my opinion, but considering that his bar is set at Any Human Heart that’s hardly a damning criticism. WFS is far, far better than most of the books that I read In 2012. There was also Eowyn Ivey’s magical and enchanting The Snow Child and just when I was convinced my run of superb books must come to an end I picked up one of my charity shop finds, When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman. Quite a few reviewers didn’t like this book, found it too whimsical and thought she’d included too many elements – which is true in a way but I still absolutely loved it. It’s laugh out loud funny in places (and I rarely find books that amusing) and the sheer energy of her writing is fantastic. Definitely one to watch.
The list goes on; I always love Susan Hill’s Simon Serraillier books and The Betrayal Of Trust didn’t disappoint, Curtis Sittenfield’s American Wife, another charity shop find, loosely based on Laura Bush was a great read even if I didn’t enjoy the last section much, and I was only only a few pages into our February book club read, Rough Music by Patrick Gale, before I was thinking, Why the hell haven’t I read this author before? As soon as I’d finished I started looking up his backlist.
See why I’m worried this can’t go on? It’s a good thing that I’ve got Dalmatians who need walking for an hour a day otherwise the combination of all this lolling around reading and putting in heavy duty writing time too means I’d shortly not be able to fit on the sofa. Of course, something’s had to give – the housework. I’ve been conducting an interesting experiment to see how long I can leave things before the other members of the household crack. As far as the dusting is concerned, it looks like never; however the daughter couldn’t take regularly passing an ironing pile that was rapidly approaching Everest like proportions and did the lot. Twice.
Since then it’s grown again, and I suppose I shouldn’t really expect her to do it all again. The only thing is I’ve just started another of Elaine’s recommendations, The Coroner by MR Hall and it’s an absolute cracker…