Sunday, July 21, 2013

A book update: Recent highlights and upcoming reads

It's been 4 months since my last post on books or reading, which I think is a long enough break for topics I find so enjoyable (and which I hope are also enjoyable for you!). What is more, I have recently finished three excellent books and I hold the belief that if you read an excellent book, it is worth letting others know of its existence.



Excellent book number one was The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, by Swedish author Jonas Jonasson. Can we just pause and reflect on how delightful that title is? And also how wonderful the author's name is?

Titles aside, this really is an excellent read. The hundred year old man in question is Allan Karlsson, who exited his bedroom window to avoid the 100th birthday celebrations being provided by his aged care home. The book alternates between his adventures after climbing out the window, which are quite a tale, and the adventures he got up to earlier in this life, which span multiple countries, drinking sessions with American presidents, turbulent relations with Stalin, and unexpected friendship with Chinese leaders. I highly recommend it!

Excellent book number two was Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. Now, in truth, I can't call this book an excellent read - good yes, excellent no. It was, however, a thought-provoking read and it maintained Kate Atkinson's position in my mind as an author worth reading. The story revolves around Ursula Todd, who is re-born numerous times when her life ends prematurely in various ways. Her multiple lives come together in a way that suggests a sense of purpose (fate if you will), and which makes one wonder what it would be like if we did get multiple opportunities to get our own lives 'right'.

Life After Life...with a green smoothie and Tarragon Salad/ Thai Papaya Salad mix

My enjoyment of this book was also boosted by it accompanying me to The Raw Kitchen Cafe, where I recreated the meal I had with Mel of Veganise This! earlier in the year (albeit with a green smoothie instead of a coffee). Mr Bite was watching football in the area and I think it is safe to say that our separate afternoons were perfect for each of us. Mine was certainly blissful.

Excellent book number three was The Shark Net by Robert Drewe. Published more than 10 years ago, I'm not sure why it took me so long to read this Australian bestseller. It is, you see, set in Perth, my hometown - and there is something wonderful about reading a book set in an area you know well. It is hard to know if the book would be as enjoyable to non-Western Australians, but I'd like to think it reflects 1950s Australia in a way that would be universally enjoyable to read.


After finishing three excellent books, I found myself in the unusual position of having a depleted bedside table and no books waiting for my attention. This prompted a library visit today, and I now have a bedside table with six books, as pictured above. The two by Alison Weir will allow me to re-indulge my enjoyment of Tudor period history, which I read voraciously at the start of the year but have had a break from since. The Ethics of What We Eat and Jessica Ennis' autobiography make up some non-fiction contributions, and two novels round out the fiction side.

I am so grateful for the luxury of reading, and for the luxury of six books waiting to be investigated.

What have you read recently? Have you read any of the books I mention here?

27 comments:

  1. I need to add those books to my long list of books, I've not read any of those. I'm reading A LOT of books on Intuitive Eating at the moment so to have something a bit lighter to read I'm reading Kristin Chenoweth's autobiography, not sure if you ever watched Pushing Daisys or her other show GCB but she is quite funny.

    Recently I've read Gillian Flynn's 3 books: Dark Places, Sharp Objects and Gone Girl and enjoyed all 3.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have heard wonderful things about Gone Girl - I think I need to track down those three books, and I'm also now feeling a bit ignorant at not knowing Kristin Chenoweth!

      Delete
  2. I hate it when I finish a book and then look around to find I have nothing else worth reading - it's such a sad moment! This book sounds good but does make me think of that movie (can't think of the name) where the old guy straps the balloons to his house and off he goes - let old people have some freedom! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am always particularly saddened to finish a series, and know there isn't another waiting to extend the story. It's horrible! But then I remember there are more books to discover and things look better again :-)

      I know the movie you mean but also can't think of it's name - but I am certainly in favour of letting old people have freedom because I hope to be old one day, and sitting idly in a nursing home does not appeal!

      Delete
  3. I love a good book, and love it even more when I find time to read one ;) Agreed, The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, is possibly the best book title I've ever seen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Finding time to read is one of those necessities I insist upon even if my sleep is compromised! It is tough some weeks though - I hope you get some time for reading soon.

      Delete
  4. The hundred year old man book sounds interesting - I also saw it recommended here - aweebitofcooking.co.uk/2013/06/24/summer-reading-request-2013/ - looks like it needs to go onto my list. I am reading a book called Lighthouse Bay - very light but enjoyable - can't remember the author - Australian and recent. I am glad Kate Atkinson didn't disappoint - I really like her stuff and I haven't read the shark net but I think i saw it on the abc-tv some years ago as a series and really enjoyed it. But now I wish for time to browse at the library - without a small child :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I missed the TV series of The Shark Net, sadly, but now would like to track it down and see how they filmed it. I'm glad you enjoyed it in that format and light but enjoyable reading is a big tick, so Lighthouse Bay sounds worthwhile in that sense! Browsing for books must be quite a challenge with a little one - perhaps now your Mum is back she can mind her to allow you an hour of free library wandering?!

      Delete
  5. I don't have many leisure books... It has been a while since I've read a novel. Although if you haven't read it, I recommend the Fortune Cookie Chronicles. It was perfect for me since it is a collection of short stories, all related to how Chinese food influenced Americans. Very good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting! I do like the sound of that - thanks for the recommendation Janet :-)

      Delete
  6. Currently reading The Razor's Edge by Maugham. I didn't finish it in time so I'm going to have to post it back to the person I borrowed it from once I'm back in Canada. Oops! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do love the postal service at times like that :-) It was always a relief to reach my grandparents in the UK when we travelled there, because my Grandma took a very casual approach to her books (despite being very into books) and was happy for them to stay with me and not be posted back. The Razor's Edge must be good if you're taking it with you!

      Delete
  7. Thanks for these reviews - really helplful for me. Whenever I go to the library, I get so overwhelmed, I come home with a huge stack of books that sit by my bed (there are 9 there at the moment!) and I only read a couple of them.

    That Kate Atkinson book sounds like something I'd like. I love time-slip-type books.

    I read a book last year called the Leisure Seekers, about an older couple who nicked off in their campervan. The Jonasson book sounds like a similar idea.

    I'm currently reading Animal People by Charlotte Wood. She's Australian, but I'd never heard of her. I really like her style and the familiarity of the setting. I tracked down her blog and was disappointed to see a post called 'Why I'll never be vegan'...but it's since disappeared, so maybe she's changed her mind!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am a bit guilty of overloading my library check outs and then not having time to read them. I used to get through books more quickly in my younger years - more time! - and I forget that I can't sensibly read a whole pile in the 3 week borrowing time. I may have been ambitions with my current lot actually!

      I like the sound of the Leisure Seekers and Animal People - and thanks so much for the link below to her article on veganism. I'm always interested in why people do / don't take that route, particularly if they do appreciate animal rights.

      Delete
  8. I'm still on my "Masters Athlete" book but definitely going to check out the 100 year one... sounds good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is! And probably a lighter relief than your Masters Athlete study ;)

      Delete
  9. Oh now, here's Charlotte Wood's post about not going vegan. :-/ http://howtoshuckanoyster.com/2013/05/23/coming-home-to-roost/

    ReplyDelete
  10. Really interesting to read your thoughts on these books - I'm always in search of something to read next! I just finished 'I, the Divine' by Rabih Alameddine and am looking for something to fill the void!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad I timed this appropriately in that case! :)

      Delete
  11. I haven't found a book I have gotten into recently so it is great to see your thoughts on a few. Thanks for sharing. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you found the post useful!

      Delete
  12. That sounds like such a fun book! I will look it up on my ibooks app :) I want that salad right noooww..

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have read some great books recently. Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth was super fantastic - set in a few different historical eras, follows strong women, and just a beautiful story. I also liked Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany, an old one: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky... I had a run of mediocres at the start of the year, but I've been loving my novel choices recently.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good books are all the better when they follow mediocre reads. I'm glad you've had such a good string! I haven't read any of those you mention - I'll have to look out for them.

      Delete
  14. Oh, wasn't Life After Life fascinating? I found it utterly absorbing, and harrowing, and clever, and that hint in the end about her mother was also intriguing. And does Ursula's life stop at the end of the book, or does it keep on going again, and again?

    (also, that bit early in the book where she keeps dying of the Spanish Flu shouldn't be hilarious, but somehow it is...)

    Catherine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I though it stopped at the end, and then my book club had a big discussion over whether that meant she'd reached the 'right' path or fulfilled her destiny...but I don't think it's actually clear!

      Delete

I genuinely appreciate all comments and the time taken to post them. Occasionally, I may need to restrict commenting to registered users in order to halt large volumes of spam. If that happens, I will lift the restriction within a week.

Want other ways to interact? Bite-sized thoughts is on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/bitesizedthoughts) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/bitesizethought).