Sunday, July 4, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.

Thoughts on books recently completed:

45.Beatrice and Virgil****+ by Yann Martel  (Canada)

Allegory of the Holocaust involving a writer and a taxidermist. Original, if flawed and somewhat self-indulgent, therefore disliked by many professional critics. I appreciated what he was trying to do and enjoyed it and recommend it despite all that. (When in doubt, borrow from your public library first).

Marie at The Boston Bibliophile said it better than I can. "This is a book about understanding the Holocaust, not reliving it. Despite the many negative reviews I believe that in time Beatrice and Virgil will be appreciated for the important work that it is."

46.The Solitude of Prime Numbers****+ by Giordano Paolo  (Italy)

Two dysfunctional young people become friends and help each other get through the many difficult phases of their lives. The math is fun and interesting. I loved it. Highly recommended.

  47.Tinkers***** by Paul Harding  (US Pulitzer Prize Winner 2010)

A dying man's thoughts and reminiscences of his life and that of his father, an itinerant tinker by trade. Wonderful story, well written. Highly recommended.

48.The Halfway House****+ by Guillermo Rosales (Cuba, 121 pages)

Story among mentally ill in a Miami, Florida halfway house. Insightful and very well written. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it. So does Marie at The Boston Bibliophile where I first heard of this book.

49.Our Horses in Egypt***** by Rosalind Belben (UK) James Tait Black Memorial Prize

We follow an Englishwoman's efforts to find and save horses used during World War I in North Africa and Palestine who managed to  survive. Most of course did not. Great historical fiction. I loved it. Highly recommended. Also reviewed and recommended by Lynne at dovegreyreader.


50.Man in the Dark**** by Paul Auster (US, 180 pages)

I've enjoyed ever book I've read by Auster, fiction or non fiction: City of Glass****, Ghosts****, The Locked Room****, (The New York Trilogy), The Music of Chance*****, The Invention of Solitude*****, The Art of Hunger*****, Invisible****+.

51.Silk by Alessandro Baricco**** (Italy, 132 pages)

An unusual love story set in 19th century France and Japan. A French silkworm buyer takes several trips to Japan and falls in love. Enjoyable and recommended. Some sexual content. A magnificent cover. I'd buy this book for the cover. 

Also reviewed and recommended by kimbofo at Reading Matters and Isabel at Books and other Stuff. 

This edition (the copy I got from the library) has a cover with the movie tie-in for the upcoming film adaptation of the book, which was originally written in Italian and set in 1860s France. Typically, it does not reflect the sense of the book's characters at all. Herve and Helene are closer to middle age, even as the story begins, and "(Helene) was a tall woman, she had long black hair that she never gathered onto her head..." (page 22).

51.blueyedboy****+ by Joanne Harris (410 pages) UK 2010

A man writes online stories about his life that suggest either a deeply disturbed family or a wildly imaginative young psycopath. Tightly wound psychological suspense from tip to tail, and original. A real departure for this author. I loved it and recommend it highly.


52.Major Petigrew's Last Stand**** by Helen Simonson (358 pages) UK 2010

Interracial middle-aged romance in England, light reading but very enjoyable.

53.Secrets of Eden****+ by Chris Bohjalian (370 pages) US 2010

A murder-suicide in an abusive family shocks a small town in Vermont, even more so when their respected pastor suddenly leaves town, and the church, immediately afterward. Very enjoyable story and well written as Bohjalian's books always are. Highly recommended.

I loved Double Bind***** and Skeletons at the Feast****+. Before You Know Kindness*** was not a great hit with me, but I'm working on this writer's backlist. He writes about interesting topics.


54.Afterimage by Helen Humphreys (250 pages) Canada 2009

Historical fiction, female photographer, her maid, and cartographer husband in 1860s England. Wonderful sense of time and place, details of first attempts in photography and 19th century mapmaking add greatly to the story. I loved it and recommend it highly. 

My thoughts on Coventry***** and Wild Dogs****+ by this author, who has never disappointed me.


55.Homer and Langley**** by E. L. Doctorow (210 pages)

Historical fiction based on real lives on two reclusive brothers in New York City. One is blind, both are eccentric and extreme hoarders. Interesting and enjoyable. Better opening and ending than many novels, smooth enough writing. This was my first experience of reading Doctorow. I can't say I'm keen to read more but it would depend on his subject. He's too big an author not to try more of.


56.No One Thinks of Greenland**** by John Griesemer (310 pages) US 2001

Highly original. American soldiers who were reported missing in action in Korea are being kept secretly in Greenland. Much more here than your average suspense. Well-developed characters make it very enjoyable. A first novel, I will watch for more from this author.

57.Hotel Iris**** by Yoko Ogawa (164 pages) Japan 2010

Sexual obsession between a very lonely teenager and older man in Japan. Very well written as her books usually are, but this will not be everyone's cup of tea. Some sado-masochistic content. 

My thoughts on The Housekeeper and the Professor***** which I loved. I will read The Diving Pool next.


58.Dog Boy***** by Eva Hornung (304 pages) Aus 2010

About one of Russia's abandoned and homeless children who grows up among stray dogs. Fascinating both historically and psychologically. Stunning, most highly recommended. And for once, a cover that perfectly reflects the story.

59.The Line***** by Olga Grushin (323 pages) US/Russia 2010
Also published as The Concert Ticket.

Rumours of concert tickets have people lining up at kiosks in 1950s Stalinist Moscow. As time goes by the lives of those waiting become intertwined. Very good. Highly recommended. 

60.In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White US non-fiction memoir 2010

Personal true account of a white collar criminal finding himself in prison on the grounds on a leper colony in Carville, Louisiana in the 1990s. Most highly recommended. Don't miss this one.

Currently reading:

61.The Ghost Brush by Katherine Govier (Canada 2010)

Wonderful historical fiction about the 19th Japanese painter Hokusai and his daughter, who actually did much of his work.

62.The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson (Finland 1982)

Which have you read, or do you plan to? What did you think? Leave me your links, I'd love to read them. Questions and reading recommendations of good literary fiction are always welcomed.


  1. Oh my gosh, did you read all of those in 1 week? I am humbled. My Monday:

  2. No, Jennifer, did not mean to give that impression. lol That's what I've managed since last month. I've been too ill to blog or even read at times but what I did get through was very good.

  3. What a range of books you have gotten through..

    I do love the cover of Silk...

    Happy reading week..


  4. Wow! What a great group of books! Hopefully you're feeling better so that you can get to even more this month. :)

    Have a fabulous reading week and if you have a minute check out my reading week at There’s A Book!

  5. Some amazing titles, Sorry to hear that you have been ill. Hope things are getting better. Have a gret week.

  6. Wow you read loads! I'm very impressed. My Monday is here :)

  7. Wow; some great looking reads there! The Solitute of Prime Numbers and Our Horses in Egypt have been on my ever-expanding reading list for a while.

    Happy reading!

  8. Many books you have read. None of these have I read. Over the week I read Bloodlines which is a short story collection edited by Veronica Henry. Intend to review it in the coming days on my blog. Still reading Possession by ASB.

  9. YOu have some fantastic reads here and I like how you lined them up with short synopsis and thoughts. I seen several that I would like to read - especially Silk.

  10. You've been doing some good reading! I'm reading Skeletons at the Feast right now - so far, it's excellent, but also disturbing.

  11. That is an impressive amount of reading! The list shows a big difference in our reading tastes though. I wasn't a big fan of Beatrice and Virgil, The Solitude of Prime Numbers or Blueeyedboy. I'm hoping I'll enjoy Tinkers though :-)

  12. You have an intriguing set of books! "blueeyedboy" fascinates me.

    Enjoy your books.

    Here's my Monday:

  13. Wow, what a fantastic bunch of books. Silk sounds so good. Sorry to hear you have not been feeling too well. Hugs to you, Sandra.

  14. Holy Books!! Your list is long and impressive and with many Highly Recommended!!! I must start taking notes!

  15. Wow! What a great set of books! I'm planning to read Silk (saw the film, but sounds like the book is also worth a read), Solitude of Prime Numbers, blueeyedboy, and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand for sure.

    My most recent 3 reads are at my blog. In particular, I loved The Restoration of Emily by Kim Moritsugu.

  16. I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on Jansson's "The True Deceiver"... I read "The Summer Book" (which I quite enjoyed) and am curious to know what her other books are like.

  17. I'm intrigued by In the Sanctuary of Outcasts. I just added it to my wishlist. Thanks.
    I am reading The King's Mistress by Emma Campion. Loving it.

  18. You've read some great books lately! Don't rule out more Doctorow based on Homer & Langley; definitely not his strongest. I highly recommend his "Ragtime."

  19. You just added a whole bunch to my TBR pile! :-) Thanks for the shoutouts as well!



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