My Reading week – Tuesday

Going to work really gets in the way of reading although I can use my commuting time to listen to my audio book (I get between 1.5 and 2 hours of listening in the car each day). I am still listening to Atlas Shrugged (see yesterday’s blog for more details). I am quite definitely of the opinion that this book would be greatly improved by removing large amounts of it. The author labours her point and then repeats it and then when you think she is moving on she goes back to it – maybe I am losing a bit of engagement because I actually think that her libertarian viewpoint is flawed. Anyway, I shall battle onwards to the end but I can promise you that my next audiobook choice will be something considerably shorter and lighter !

Before I headed off to work this morning I called at the Post Office sorting office to collect a couple of parcels which had been lingering there for some days. Both parcels contained books. The first is a birthday present for my eldest grandson from my sister. His great-aunt always sends him books for presents and I know that he enjoys reading. I shall put that to one side until his birthday.

My second parcel was something different. I currently have a subscription to a scheme run by Book Ninjas. They send me a “pre-loved” book each month chosen by themselves (and nicely wrapped in coloured tissue paper). All the books are published by independent publishers. They promise a range of books and genres. This month, for reasons too complex to go into, I actually received two books – The History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray and Emily Nation by Alec McQuay. I already own the first one which is always going to be a danger with this type of subscription. Fortunately I actually have it on audio so I don’t mind having the paper copy as well. It is a great read with a fascinating choice of biographical subjects. The second book I know nothing at all about except that it seems to be a fantasy. I looked it up on Amazon and saw one review describe it as about “lesbian psychopaths” which certainly makes me want to give it a go ! I have had a wide range of books sent to me under this subscription and I am enjoying reading very different stuff. I have looked at other subscription boxes in the past but they have tended to include a lot of what I believe is described in the industry as “swag” and I am not that interested in bookmarks, postcards and signed copies. I am perfectly pleased with this subscription and will keep it going for the time being.

After I got home from work I finished a book I have been reading for a week or so. This was Elmet by Fiona Mozley. This book is set in rural Yorkshire amongst those on the outside of society; travellers, bare knuckle fighters, cash in hand workers, etc. It is narrated by a young man who lives with his older sister and his father on land which belongs to someone else. They live a very claustrophobic life and are very vulnerable to the vagaries of the weather and the whims of others. You know from the beginning of the book that something dreadful has occurred and you spend the whole book waiting to see what it is and how it happened, although as it is very well foreshadowed it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The author does the building of tension very well and that is my problem with the book. I didn’t enjoy reading about these characters and waiting for everything to fall apart. I couldn’t really appreciate the writing, which is very descriptive, because I knew that something violent and dreadful was going to happen. It spoiled the reading for me and I also found that the book didn’t finish satisfactorily – a lot of things which were major themes got lost in the drama without being resolved. A well written book but not one I enjoyed much and I only finished it because it isn’t very long. This one goes on to a charity shop as I don’t really want to pass it on to one of my friends because I can’t recommend it with any enthusiasm.

My evening’s reading, including in my nightly bath, was Maximum Harm by Michele R McPhee. This is a book about the events of April 2013 when there were two bombs set off during the running of the Boston marathon. I like these true crime books when they are well written and the author here is a journalist who has interviewed a lot of the main players. It is not the best true crime book I have read, mainly because the author is so firmly against the perpetrators. I fully understand her point of view and I agree that what they did was horrendous but she makes no attempt to lay out the rationale behind their actions or their belief system. She also makes quite a lot of snide comments about the bombers’ ingratitude to their adopted country and the fact that they lived on benefits. I felt that I would have liked more background and depth and also more understanding of the situation in their homeland – the author tends to use Russia as a label for many ex-Soviet countries in Eastern Europe and I didn’t get a full grasp of what the situation was in Chechnya, Dagestan and Kyrgyzstan where a lot of the motivation seemed to originate. On the other hand, I was very interested in her excellent depiction of the results of the bombing and the effect that it had on lives, and also the tensions between the different law enforcement agencies and the suspicion that the FBI may have been paying one of the brothers as an agent. It was definitely worth reading but I shall pass the book on to a charity shop now I have finished.

I finished two books today and listened to part of another. I acquired two more so my to-be-read pile/list hasn’t got any smaller although it hasn’t grown either. My total reading/listening time was about 6.5 hours which came as a bit of a surprise to me when I added it all up because I thought it would be less than yesterday and not more – I think that it is the commute/audiobook that makes the difference. I shall be interested to see if it is the same picture tomorrow.

I must head off now and find a couple of new books to begin to replace those I have finished.

Keep reading !