Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

Summer Reading Reviews

I lay and read books for a fortnight. Here’s what I read and what I thought. There will only be spoilers for things I don’t recommend:

1. “The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton
Set in New Zealand, dealing with gold.
A very long book with good sentence structure. The plot was fairly straightforward but was conveyed through multiple perspectives which resulted in the book’s length. The many characters were mostly male and pretty flat. The two female characters had a bit more colour, but I occasionally forgot which was which as well. I enjoyed reading it, although it took me three times to get going with it. It was so long that, by the end of it, I found myself unclear on a couple of important details but so weary I couldn’t be bothered to skim back to clarify.

2. “The Pleasure Seekers” by Tishani Doshi

A straightforward summer read following a couple of lives. Not quite sure why it was entitled “The Pleasure Seekers”. Boy meets girl…. and so on. Some quite nice thoughts about love and identity and “home”. Linear timescale against a backdrop of real events in history. Uncomplicated.

3. “We are all completely beside ourselves” by Karen Joy Fowler

I enjoyed this book the most – so will say little. Once the book was underway I found myself rooting for the narrator. Interesting and thought provoking.

4. “The Quarry” by Iain Banks
Narrated from the point of view of an autistic young man whose father is dying of cancer. A reunion of the father’s university friends takes place at their house and lives are reflected upon. Sounds bleak, but there was a lot of wit and realism in there. Characters ranted about various topics – political and personal. The quarry itself was a tidy metaphor. A well constructed novel – but if you were wanting to read Iain Banks, I preferred “Whit”. I want to read more by this writer.

5. “The Other” by David Guterson and
6. “Brewster” by Mark Slouka

These two books I read because they were recommended for “runners” in an article in The Guardian
Both were narrated by men who described a friendship – the main focus of the novel being the other man. I was surprised by how little running there was in both novels – although both books were well written. “The Other” is ultimately about principles and compromise. In the opening chapter (this is not a spoiler) is the narrative hook that drives the plot:

“That’s how I met the priviledged boy who would later become ‘the hermit of the Hoh’ – that loner who lived in the woods for seven years and who bequeathed me four hundred and forty million dollars.”

“Brewster” is the setting of the second novel – a tough American town. The narrator runs to prove himself to himself – because running feels like it matters.
Both of these books were well written – Guterson’s moreso – but the amount of running in them wouldn’t have made be put them on a list of five books every runner should read. Which makes me think there is a gap in the market for a running novel.

7. “The Girl who wasn’t there” by Ferdinand Von Schirach

This was the most disappointing book of the summer. The cover was striking, even the paper quality was lovely – even the font had me fooled! It began well with interesting settings and relationships and the development of the main character. SPOILER WARNING BUT THE BOOK ISN’T ONE I RECOMMEND. But then it included some completely tasteless and vile descriptions of things that didn’t need to be in the book and the whole denoument/twist was given away by the title of the book – you can’t/shouldn’t be convicted of murder when there hasn’t been a murder – and the fact that the defendant had staged the crime as a piece of interactive installation art was a very lame way to end. Producing a half-sister out of thin air was also poor.

8. “Curtain Call” by Anthony Quinn
A tidy, straightforward summer read. Interesting historical context – glamorous and seedy in equal measure. Danger and threat and twists. Fine.

9. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury

A book I felt I “should” have read by now, so I did. My kind of book, really – despairing over the loss of value of the written word, but not utterly pessimistic.


Back to Prison Break.


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6 thoughts on “Summer Reading Reviews

  1. I love the title of “We are all completely beside ourselves” very intriguing. Chariots of Fire I had thought was a book that inspired the movie, but it wasn’t so you’re right, there aren’t enough “running” books. Thanks for the book reviews 😀

  2. Such a lot of reading! You have reminded me that I didn’t finish ‘We are all completely beside ourselves’ so I must do that. It obviously wasn’t gripping me completely or I wouldn’t have been able to leave it while I started something else!

    • I read it quite late in the holiday, so perhaps I was just in my reading groove. It’s not often I ‘need’ the ending I knew there would be.

      • I was reading it for my Book Club, and when we discussed it at the next meeting, everyone who had finished it really enjoyed it (though didn’t give the actual ending away because of those of us who hadn’t actually finished it!).

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