A summer of reading – new places and new (to me) books

So, summer is over. The rains have started, coats have been donned and the heating is now being used for a little longer each evening as it gets darker. It has been a good summer and I haven’t blogged as much as I would have liked so here is a catch-up and maybe a promise to blog a little more often during the autumn/winter.

In July and August I read 61 books in total which is round about what I normally read over two months – I did read them in some lovely locations though and I highly commend Bavaria, the Dolomites and the Tyrol for stunning backdrops for your reading activity. Here are a few of the books I read over the summer which I recommend – most of them have been out a while so you should be able to pick up a reasonably cheap copy if you want to try them. As you can see, I have read a variety of genres, as usual !

  1. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes; and Other Lessons from the Crematorium by Caitlin Doughty. I listened to this one on audio where it was read by the author. It was a highly entertaining, semi-autobiographical book about the death industry and the author’s experiences working in a crematorium. It is an American book and reflects slightly different practices than here in the UK but it leaves you with a lot to think about.
  2. Mr Starlight by Laurie Graham is the story of two brothers who make their way in showbusiness, with different successes. It is, I think, a thinly disguised story about the rise to fame of Liberace but it also a story about family and secrets. I enjoyed it a lot.
  3. Maskerade by Terry Pratchett. My journey through this author’s books continues with one of his best. It has the witches (well, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg), the theatre, a strange cookery book, a transforming cat and some interesting things to say about how we present ourselves to the world and what we really are. Very, very funny.
  4. Transcription by Kate Atkinson. I confess that I find this author’s books a bit variable but I thought that this one was fascinating. It features a young woman who spends her time during the war transcribing the conversations of so-called fifth columnists. After a while neither she nor the reader can really work out who is telling the truth and who is lying. Very clever.
  5. The Ghost Road by Pat Barker. This is the third in this author’s series set in mental health institutions during the First World War. I have read all three and thought that she finished the series well. These books are sad and bleak but feel real and the author has introduced a back history for the doctor Rivers in this book which links to how he experiences life and sees the war and his patients.
  6. The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Café by Mary Simses is a book that would probably be described as “Women’s Fiction”. It is a romance and a story about families and small towns and includes a change of heart by the main character. The author has a light touch and the book is very funny in places. A light read.
  7. Vanessa and her Sister by Priya Parmar is an historical novel telling the story of Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell and some of their “set”. It is elegantly written and although most of the characters behave very badly the author has really brought them and their environment to life.
  8. Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo is a crime novel set in the Amish community in America. It doesn’t romanticise the faith and the people but it doesn’t demonise it either. This is the first in a series which I have enjoyed because the author writes a good story.

Maybe there is something here that takes your fancy – I enjoyed them all.

Keep reading !