Monday, 19 November 2012

My reading list

The pile never seems to get smaller!  I'm actually quite content with that - I know I will never run out.

My book group met yesterday to discuss "The Secret Scripture" by Sebastian Barry.  It was given to me as a birthday gift last year by a friend who adored it.  She and I generally like each others' choices, so I knew it would be a winner when I recommended it to my book group.

If you haven't read this book, put it on your "must read" list.  Roseanne Clear is one hundred years old and living in an asylum in Ireland when she starts to write down her life story.  Dr Grene is the resident psychiatrist faced with the demolition of the asylum and the need to decide where the patients should go.  He is trying to discover Roseanne's story, in particular, the circumstances of her committal.  Through these two characters we are exposed to the twists and complications of twentieth century Irish history.  Again, I am left wondering about the role of love in the Catholic church.

I'm revisiting the beginnings of New Journalism with a collection of essays from Gay Talese.  His book, "Thy Neighbour's Wife" was on the reading list for the New Journalism subject I took at university.  I read all the others, but somehow missed this one.  One of his most famous essays gives the title to the collection I've borrowed from the library, "Frank Sinatra has a cold".  It's marvellous.  The first essay in the collection is called Vogueland and was written in 1961 about Vogue magazine.  He is a wonderful writer and I'm enjoying these shorter pieces.

The next selection for the book group was featured recently on the Tuesday Night Book Club on ABC television.  I didn't see the program, but the woman who served me at the bookstore told me they have sold three hundred copies since the show aired.  The book is "Crossing to Safety" by Wallace Stegner, with an introduction by Jane Smiley (one of my favourite authors).  Apparently he's one of the most important American authors of the late twentieth century.  It's incredible that I've never heard of Wallace Stegner as the last fifty years of the twentieth century American literature is where I focus a lot of my reading, starting with subjects at university.  Very happy to discover him now.  The book looks terrific.

Hilary Mantel's second Man Booker Prize winner is "Bring up the Bodies" which my book group will read over the summer break, as is our custom with the Booker Prize winner.  It's (mostly) an enjoyable tradition.  Some of us are feeling less than happy at the prospect of this one.

On the non-fiction pile are:

"How Music Works" by David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame)
"Flourish" by Martin Seligman
"Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer
"I'm Ok - you're Ok" by Thomas A Harris
"As One - individual action, collective power" by Mehrdad Baghai and James Quigley

Lastly is "The Sweet Poison Quit Plan" by David Gillespie.  It's become my go to guide, rather than a book I'm reading from beginning to end.

That should keep me occupied for a while.  What are you reading?

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