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Last modified: Sunday, 14 August, 2016

* I love to read! I have done ever since before my Primary School days. In my early years I was a voracious and indiscriminate reader, mostly of books from the local Public Libraries. More recently, and especially since getting married, restricted time for reading has led me to try to be much more selective in terms of quality while (I hope) continuing to read reasonably widely.

* Below you can see my thoughts on what I'm currently reading and what I've finished reading recently. There are also details of what I read in previous years. First, though, here's a look at what's next up on my long shelf of "books to be read"...

* This page was last updated in August 2006, when I started reading "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell". It was some six months before I got to the end of that book! My reading since then is now covered in my Books Blog. See you there! 

+ Forthcoming Reads +

* Ian McEwan: Atonement

Booker shortlisted novel that, apparently, explores the currents of guilt, shame and anger that threaten the protagonists' happiness.

* E.F. Benson: Queen Lucia

The first of Benson's six hilarious novels recounting the quintessentially English Lucia and her machiavellian approach to staying top of the society heap in her village.

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+ Current Reads +

* Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Huge debut novel about two magicians at loggerheads in nineteenth century England.

* John Gray: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

Larded with repugnantly gushing "this book will transform you life" self-help rhetoric, the self-proclaimed "most famous relationships book ever published" nonetheless presents a series of incisively accurate portrayals of the key differences in outlook and points of misunderstanding between the sexes. Behind its tub-thumping facade, this book actually has a great deal of valuable insight to offer anyone perplexed by the man or woman in their life.

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+ Recent Reads +

* Alexander McCall Smith: Tears of the Giraffe

Second in the series that began with the delightful The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Very much the mixture as before but none the worse for that: engaging and sympathetic characters involved in intriguing and gently humorous events as Mma Ramotswe steers her way through the moral and practical dilemma's thrown up by her detective work and her relationship with Mr JLB Maketone.

* Cyrano de Bergerac: Voyages to the Moon and the Sun

Written more than 350 years ago. Stories of fantastic voyages are used as a cover for expounding scientific and philosophical theories.

* Alexander McCall Smith: Portuguese Irregular Verbs

First of a new sequence of comedies from the author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and its sequels. The humour utterly failed to work for me, as I felt only pity for the unfulfilled life of the main character.

* Terry Pratchett: The Truth

Set in Ankh Morporck, the 25th novel in the Discworld series tackles the world of newspapers and the attitudes attendant on inherited wealth and influence in Pratchett's typical style.

* Tracy Chevalier: Girl with a Pearl Earring

Novel, used as the basis of the recent film, that imagines the background events to a famous Vermeer painting. Very sparely told, with powerful intimations of unspoken emotion, this edition is greatly enriched by a series of colour plates of Vermeer paintings that feature in the story. Beautiful and haunting.

* Jane Fletcher: The Walls of Westernfort

The third novel set in Celeano's world. Fletcher has an easy-reading, tale-telling style that brings characters and events to life in a thoroughly involving way. Natasha, a member of the Temple Guard, is selected for a secret mission deep into the heart of enemy territory. While the overall outcome is never in doubt, there are surprising twists in just how events are eventually resolved.

* Lyn Halls: Cat Confidential

The UK's leading behavioural therapist for pet cats (and their owners!) takes us through cat life from start to finish. She highlights areas where human misunderstanding of the feline world view can lead to behavioural problems, illustrating key points with tales from her case files and her own pets. A warmly-written and highly enlightening book.

* Arthur Conan Doyle: The Hound of the Baskervilles

The third, and possibly most famous, Holmes novel. Set in the bleak landscape of Dartmoor.

* David Fisher: The War Magician

A highly readable, fictionalised biography of Jasper Maskelyne who, apparently, was a stage magician who used his skills to assist the allied forces in the desert war against the Panzers of Rommel's Afrika Korps.

* Frank Kermode: Shakespeare's Language

An accessible study of the way Shakespeare's use of language evolved, especially after the establishment of the Globe theatre.

* John Peel: Margrave of the Marshes

The opening, autobiographical, chapters cover John's childhood and the start of his time in the USA. In them, the familiar Peel style, shot through with engaging candour, is captured perfectly on the page. The majority of the book, completed by his widow, looks at the rest of his life with great affection and a considerable tinge of sadness. Required reading.


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