Reading Round-Up: December 2013

December was a bit hit-and-miss for me in the reading department, with some enjoyable reads but without anything that really knocked my socks off.

Recommended

My best read in December was a re-read: TheHalf-Made World by Felix Gilman, a fantastically creative reimagination of the colonisation of South America. Gilman’s world-building is brilliant and he creates a wonderful array of weird characters and a story that is full of surprises.

Also, to my surprise, I really enjoyed The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. It didn’t really sound like my cup of tea, but it turned out that was exactly what I liked about it: funny and light-hearted, I raced through it, laughing all the way.

Michael Chabon’s Maps and Legends contains sixteen essays written in Chabon’s inimitable and entertaining style. Not all of the essays interested me but those that did made it worthwhile as they were so full of fascinating ideas about reading and writing.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a collection of Ann Patchett’s essays four various journals and magazines. I am a huge Patchett fan and love her turn of phrase so I devoured this book, but apart from some of the essays in which she reflects on writing and reading, there wasn’t very much that will stay with me.

Anthony Burgess is an author I have been meaning to follow-up on after being really impressed (as well as horrified) by A Clockwork Orange. One Hand Clapping was a satire on our obsession with TV/fame/consumption with a nasty little unreliable narrator. Written in 1961 the ideas are amazingly relevant today although the style feels very outdated. What I found most astonishing about this book though, is that Burgess wrote it during a year in which he produced FIVE novels.

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Don’t Bother

Frank Herbert’s Dune is one of my favourite science-fiction novels – I think it is a phenomenal piece of writing. I’ve read it several times but have always felt like a bit of a fraud for claiming to be such a fan and then not reading any of the sequels. However, after slogging through Dune Messiah, I wish I hadn’t bothered. It is, undoubtedly, a brilliant and complex work but it went way over my head and didn’t hold my interest. I think I’ll just keep reading the first book over and over again!

I continued my non-fiction spree with Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. This was an easy and enjoyable read with lots of interesting factoids, but ultimately I felt like he was drawing a pretty long bow with his thesis on split-second thinking.

My greatest reading disappointment in December was The Circle by Dave Eggers. He was really phoning it in with this book and I wrote a slightly ranty review on Goodreads if you want to know more.

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Your turn: Have you read any of these? Were your impressions similar or different?

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