I am off to Maleny for Easter, which will pretty much three days of eating and reading. So I’m doing a quick update on my reading challenge. We’re a third of the way through the year but I am Not a third of the way through the list!
A book set somewhere you’ve always want to visit – 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith (Edinburgh)
This book is a little different. 44 Scotland Street started out as a serial in The Scotsman, similar to a lot of Dicken’s works. It is therefore a novel of perfect one-chapter stories held together by the intriguing line up of characters who inhabit number 44 Scotland Street. Easy to read, digestible, with a real mix of characters and mishaps, this was my first Alexander McCall Smith novel and it won’t be my last.
Side note: I have wanted to visit Scotland for a very long time and finally in 2015 I am doing it! As part of a trip to Europe later this year I am spending four days in Edinburgh. Hurrah!
A book with more than 500 pags – A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
This is a short history of nearly everything in a cosmic, physical, biological sense. Bryson makes physics fun and accessible by telling not only the science but the stories of the scientists behind the study and discovery of how old the Earth is, what it’s made of, the cosmos, atoms, molecules, early humans and so on. This was going to be my non-fiction book but as it is 500pages+ I decided to put it in that slot instead, just in case.
Johnno had two good qualities. One, it was short. Two, it gave me an interesting insight into Brisbane around the time of the second world war – not that long ago but my how BNE has changed since then. Overall though, I didn’t enjoy this as I should and I was glad when I finished it.
A book set in high school – Looking for Alaska by John Green
John Green achieved international literary fame for The Fault in Our Stars. Looking for Alaska is his first published work and is similar to The Fault in our Stars in that it is set in high school and looks at the complicated lives of teenagers in a sympathetic, thought-provoking and ultimately emotional way. The Fault in Our Stars was better; 2/3 of the way through this one I pretty much lost interest, even though I had really been enjoyed it up to that point.
A classic romance – Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer
Georgette Heyer might rival Agatha Christie (of whom she was a direct contemporary) for quantity of output. A successful writer of Regency romances, thrillers and detective stories, you may have seen her books in QBD, all dainty flirty oil painting covers and that unmistakably whiff of ‘romance novel’. Recommended by a friend, I read Bath Tangle as my ‘classic romance’ and wow, did it hit all the requirements. Mistakes and misunderstandings, bluffs, engagements galore, drama, goddess-like tempestuous beauties and other stereotypes abound and you can guess the ending by page 40. Georgette Heyer may well be a guilty pleasure novelist whose work might not stimulate the brain cells but does tickle your imagination and while away a pleasant few hours.
A banned book – The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
The list of books that have been banned at some time or other by some country or other is rather extensive. Some are predictable or well known – Mein Kampf, Lolita, The Satanic Verses – many are banned for religious reasons, some because they go against the reigning ideology of the nation.
I chose The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, which was banned in the United States for its lewd content. Oh My! I have long wanted to read these tales, such a cornerstone of English literature. The copy I read was actually a retelling or ‘translation’ if you like, by acclaimed writer Peter Ackroyd of the original old-English poems into stories written in modern English. This may not be as authentic, but it is an excellent adaptation and at least it means I could read the stories without getting a headache.
Now I just need to pick about three books for the Easter long weekend. It looks to be a wet one in South-East Queensland, perfect for catching up on my reading challenge.