Sunday, October 18, 2009

On the Night Stand

No fiber content here. After struggling to find a book I wanted to read, I suddenly have about eight; I'm more excited about this than anything I've been making, so here they are:

Dissolution by C.J. Sansom. This is a historical mystery, set in the 1500's at the time Henry VIII closed the English monasteries. I'm half way through, and enjoying it. It's well-written with sympathetic characters, a classic "closed room" murder plot, and a thought-provoking look at the unavoidable pain of large social changes.

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo. I don't know anything about this book except the author, and that's enough for me. His Empire Falls is one of my all time favorites.

The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory. Another historical novel by the author of The Other Boleyn Girl and many others. This new series is set at the time of the War of the Roses, 1400's. I'm a bit skeptical because I didn't care for her Tudor novels, but I've liked other novels about this period.

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. A post-apocalyptic novel, set in a world where the population has been almost destroyed by a genetically engineered plague and climate change. This is a companion to Oryx and Crake, which I just read. I may decide to skip this one. Oryx and Crake was well written, clever, with some good bits of black humor, but the bleakness and cynicism was hard to take.

Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill. This series of British police procedurals features educated, cultured, politically liberal Pascoe and his boss, the fat, vulgar, but brilliant Superintendent Dalziel of the Mid-Yorkshire Constabulary. Funny, with delightful characters and clever plots, these books are a treat.

The Professionalby Robert Parker. This is the latest in the series featuring Boston private detective Spenser, his killer friend Hawk, and his annoying (to me) lover Susan Silverman. A recent review described this series as "running on fumes," and although I agree, this book should be good for a couple of hours of relaxation. Parker's dialogue and descriptions can be laugh-out-loud funny.

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore. The main character is a young girl working as a nanny who learns hard lessons about the world from the family who employs her. The reviews of this book have been glowing. I'm hoping it's serious enough to be a change from the lighter books on this list, but still entertaining.

And finally, The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt. The central character is a writer of childrens books in the late Victorian period, and her stories are interspersed with the main plot of the novel. Byatt did the same sort of thing with her earlier novel Possession., about two Victorian poets. I loved Possession, but I'm not sure I'm that patient now. We'll see.

Having listed all these books, I realize I can never read them before they're over-due, not if I do anything else, including sew! If only I didn't have to sleep, cook, or do anything around the house!


Joyce said...

Interesting list. I used to be a fan of Margaret Atwood. Now I find her too dark and cynical. She is one of our most famous Canadian authors. I very much enjoy Dalziel and Pascoe. I have read several of them. It sounds like you have some fun reading ahead of you.

Libby Fife said...

Hey, anytime you want to recommend some books and do reviews is fine by me! I am going to look for some books by Reginal Hill. I really have enjoyed the Martha Grime's series with the Jury character (up until recently anyway) and Hill's books may be a similar read. Thanks again.

Barbara C said...

I've got 7 books in my pile: if only I could get to them.

The Calico Cat said...

Spenser - as in "Spenser for Hire" - I used to watch that on TV. :o)

*karendianne. said...

So excited to reply to this post. You know I'm over 200 pages in The Game of Kings and love it. You know I dig that challenging prose! Makes me feel so literary. Dissolution - added. :) Richard Russo, hmmm. Empire Falls - one of the all time favorites, really? Not questioning in a negative way just trying to understand since I don't usually do a lot of current stuff. I did see the movie though and, well, I do trust you. I'll wait patiently for your take on The White Queen. Now, Margaret Atwood scared me (as a reader, not literally) with The Blind Assassin and I never recovered.
Reginald Hill - added to the list. Do you need to read in any particular order though? And A. S. Byatt - I've still not been able to sit for Possession and thus, never allowed myself to watch the movie. - I'm so rigid!!!

jenclair said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of C.J. Sansom's books that I've read. Empire Falls is my favorite Russo, but haven't read That Old Cape Magic, yet. Half-hearted fan of Atwood, but don't care for Gregory at all. Reginald Hill is one of my all-time favorites...Long Live Fat Andy! Looking forward to Byatt's new one.