I thought as a change this week I would join in with WWWednesday, which is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words, giving some thought to what I’m reading now, what I’ve just finished and where I think I might go next.
What Are You Currently Reading?
I’ve got two books on the go at the moment. My bedtime read is, and has been for some time, the sixteen book sequence that makes up Robin Hobb’s story of the Farseer Dynasty and the individual known variously as the Fool or Amber who seeks to change destiny through the actions of FitzChivalry Farseer. I read these as they were published and now I’m going back and enjoying them all over again just a few pages at a time before I put the light out. I’m not someone who reads a great deal in bed, normally being too tired to keep my eyes open for very long, and so re-reading and spending time with characters already known and loved works well for me last thing at night.
Writing fantasy is, I think, far more complex an enterprise than many critics give credit. Most importantly, a writer must create a world that has an integrity of its own. It must seem as real and plausible to the reader as the world which they inhabit. Hobb is brilliant in this respect, whether she is writing about the Six Duchies, the territory ruled by the Farseers, the Rain Wilds, or, as in Ship of Destiny, the book I am reading at the moment, the Bingtown of the Liveship Traders.
The other book I’m currently reading is Anne Youngson’s Costa shortlisted first novel, Meet Me at the Museum. This is an epistolary novel charting the growing relationship between East Anglian farmer’s wife, Tina Hopgood and Anders Larsen, a curator at the Danish museum which houses the peat preserved body of Tollund Man. For each of them, the developing correspondence provides an outlet for a life that has become too closely confined, encouraging them to explore ideas and emotions that would otherwise have remained dormant or worse, festered into something toxic. I’m very much enjoying this, despite having come across one or two rather disparaging reviews; it is making me think through my own stance on particular topics, especially on the question of the extent to which an individual should compromise their own life for the benefit of someone else. I haven’t read anything else on the shortlist, but I wouldn’t feel short-changed if this were to take the first novel award.
What Did You Recently Finish Reading?
I had to stop and think about this, which doesn’t say much for the book, does it? In fact, it was James Runcie’s first Grantchester novel, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death. I wrote about this in my last post and commented then that I had found it fairly nondescript and that I was especially disappointed by the fact that it turned out to be a series of linked short stories rather than one full length mystery. Sidney is the vicar of Grantchester, just outside Cambridge, and the book is set in the early 1950s. He becomes embroiled in a number of the type of crimes that you might find in any of the Golden Age detective series and I suspect Runcie is attempting to take advantage of the reviving interest in that genre. I’m afraid it wasn’t for me and I don’t think that I shall be reading any more from the series. I haven’t seen any of the television version, but then I rarely watch crime that is based on original novels. I don’t care if it is a cliché; the pictures are so much better in my head.
What Do You Think You Will Read Next?
I’m almost at the point where I can feel justified in starting on the pile of books that I have put to one side for Christmas reading, especially since that has grown to include the forthcoming Dervla McTiernan novel, The Scholar. McTiernan is yet another of the wonderful crime writers to come out of and set their work in Ireland, despite the fact that she does now live in Australia. I loved the first book in her Cormac Reilly series, The Ruin, so I’m hoping that this is going to be every bit as good. However, I do have the latest Barbara Kingsolver novel, Unsheltered, sitting on my library shelf and it is due back in ten days time, so I think it may well have to climb up the pile if I am to get it read before its due date. Too many books……..