Thursday, 2 June 2011

Books read so far, in 2011

I'm trying to read more this year. Here's a list with comments on the books I have read so far in 2011.

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
a classic that has stood the test of time

Burying the Bones by Hilary Spurling
a biography of Pearl Buck's life in early 20th Century China

Passage to Juneau by Jonathan Raban
I had not read JR before and was blown away by his erudition and wonderful descriptions of sailing the inside passage, from Seattle to Juneau

Coasting by Jonathan Raban
an earlier book by JR, about sailing around the British Isles

Larry’s Party by Carol Shields
my expectations on hearing positive reports about this book from friends when it first came out, were not quite met

Enchantment and Sorrow by Gabrielle Roy
Gabrielle Roy is not well known in Australia at all, but is one of the most famous French Canadian writers. She wrote in French and this is a translation of the first part of her autobiography, set in Manitoba in the 1920-1940s. If the French Canadians had it rough in Quebec, those in the isolated French communities were even worse off.

Flashman Papers by Macdonald Fraser
well what can I say. Politically incorrect, but very flashy in a boy's own adventure way!

The Resurrectionist by James Bradley
a strange dark tale about "body snatchers" in 19th Century London. It is based on the story of the Burke and Hare murders. I will seek out some more of James Bradley.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
you must read this post-colonial classic from Nigerian writer

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Must read some more of CMcC have seen the film of The Road and the book is equally stark and grim

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Mothers and Sons by Colm Toibin
short stories, set in Ireland, all around this theme, each quite different.

Dancing Backwards by Salley Vickers
one of her latest, but not as good and her previous books such as Miss Garnet's Angel and The Other Side of You

Ruby in her navel by Barry Unsworth
Forget the silly title, this is a terrific well researched historical novel set in Sicily in the 12th Century, when Sicily had a Norman king (Roger) and Saracens and Christians worked along side and shared power for one brief period in history. Very informative and enjoyable. I am an Unsworth fan.

Barry Unsworth by Pascali’s Island
this is one of Unsworth's earlier books set in pre- WW1 in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire. Good read

Five Bells by Gail Jones
this is the first book of Gail Jones that I have read. It's set in Sydney on one bright summer day and tracks the intertwining lives of four adults and a child. The title comes from classic Australian poem Five Bells by Kenneth Slessor which I have also been delving into. A wonderful book. The various story lines propel you forward and the language is beautiful and poetic. The subject of the poem, Five Bells, is echoed in the novel as well.

The Angel and the Octopus by Simon Leys
some great essays here and I especially enjoyed the ones about China under Mao.

No comments: