Monday, April 5, 2010

My own holiday reading

Some of the books which have waited for these Easter holidays to find their turn... not necessarily from the shelves of the school library or teenlit.  For one thing, the kids have first dibs on what's in the school library, so if they want it and I want it, no contest - they get it; and for another, there's definitely a to-read pile for me at home unrelated to school (so don't assume these are all school library recommendations - many wouldn't necessarily much interest Young Persons).  What's a holiday without reading, after all?  Thus, in no particular order...

The sweetness at the bottom of the pie by Alan Bradley

and its sequel, The weed that strings the hangman's bag (if it arrives in time, it's published in April).  Flavia de Luce is eleven, and also a private detective with a particular interest in poisons - this sounded entertainingly written from reviews, so I've taken a punt.  (Not necessarily a school library choice, despite her age). 
The piper's son by Melina Marchetta (you're looking at my uncapitalised rendering of the titles and realising that I'm SUCH a librarian in some ways, eh?!) (Loved Saving Francesca; have to read this one, I so hope I enjoy it - I didn't like her last book, Finnikin of the Rock, a venture into fantasy).  Update: I DID like this one, very much.  More suited to older high school students, not only for some language but also ideas being explored.  A really satisfying read with well-drawn characters and well-constructed plot. 

Major Pettigrew's last stand by Helen Simonson (I think the cover was part of what got me in on this one - is that shallow?  Surely not, when I work hard to have lots of covers face-out 'selling' books to kids in our library) (ahem, coughcough)

The double comfort safari club by Alexander McCall Smith (further adventures of Botswana's lady detective, Precious Ramotswe)

Soulless by Gail Carriger (an adventure into steampunk/romance/mystery including vampires, werewolves and parasols - what's not to like about that list??). UPDATE: liked this one very much - a most amusing, light tone to it.  Considering it for the school library, though perhaps tagged for seniors.

Mr Rosenblum's list: or friendly guidance for the aspiring Englishman by Natasha Solomons.  There was an article about NS and this book in Saturday's SMH Spectrum section, but I can't find it online to give you a link.  Had a very funny conversation about holiday reading with a colleague - we both said "Mr Rosenblum" and "Major Pettigrew" almost simultaneously when discussing our Easter holiday choices.  So we'll have to compare notes after.

Comfort food by Kate Jacobs (I liked her earlier one about the Friday night knitting club, even if the ending was a tad manipulative, and I could have happily drowned, or at least read less of, at least two characters.  Hmmm.  That's not sounding like a ringing recommendation, but then again, I have invested in this one... well, I found a second hand copy and thought, why not?)

The girl who kicked the hornets' nest by Stieg Larsson (I've read the first two in the Millennium trilogy and am interested to see the Swedish version of the first book these hols).  Definitely NOT a series for the school library - deals with strong issues and ideas in sometimes difficult detail.  UPDATE: a satisfying, intricately-plotted finale to this trilogy.  Further evidence as to why Steig Larsson's own title for the first book was "Men who hate women", not the title given to the English translation, "The girl with the dragon tattoo".  I gather Larsson's partner is outraged at the change in title, but shallowly, I would guess that the second is a less confronting, more engaging, more intriguing, more reader-pulling title than the original.  Haven't yet seen the film.

The good mayor by Andrew Nicoll

The good thief by Hannah Tinti

This I accomplish by Kyra E. Hicks (on Harriet Powers' quilts - she was a black slave who made the most extraordinary applique quilts - nonfiction)

Love walked in by Marisa De Los Santos (recommended by a friend whose reading tastes I trust)

Still life by Louise Penny (another recommendation from that friend)

The winter vault by Anne Michaels (forget who recommended this, but someone did)

The blue plateau by Mark Tredinnick (nonfiction: hard to categorise, but it's a natural history with stories all about the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.  Sorta.)

Etcetera: creating beautiful interiors with the things you love by Sibella Court.  I like her aesthetic, her style, even if it sometimes seems financially out of reach.  I get ideas from books like this for things to try in the library, to enhance the environment there.  Some kids lounging on one of the sofas the other day called our library 'homey', in a happy sort of tone - hard to make such a big varied space homey, but the word conjures comfortable, and friendly, and welcoming, and other such useful adjectives liable to encourage them to visit the library and hang about for a while, and I appreciated the compliment.

The wild things by Dave Eggars (didn't get this read when the film came out at the end of last year).

Can a book list be a biography?  I dunno.  It's taken a while to load all these covers, but I thought it would make the blog entry much more interesting than just titles/authors in a list.  I'm planning some leaflets for fiction promotion, and the more I think on them, the more I plan to use covers to help 'sell' the books.

Anything you'd like to recommend?  Leave a comment.

Enjoy your hols!

Skerricks will be back next term, on 19th April 2010, the good Lord willing and the creek don't rise. 



PS. I do not guarantee to get through all of these - there are other items on the holiday agenda.  But I do plan to make a Good Effort in that regard...

Image sources unless listed below


Anonymous said...

An excellent, albeit ambitious list for one holiday, Ruth :O)

Bernard said...

i like the idea of the covers and I'm going to use it for a couple of our KLA's to get their msg across to parents.BernardCourt

Ruth Buchanan said...

@darcymoore: it is ambitious... But on the one hand, I've already knocked over several, including the doorstop Larsson; and any I don't get to provide an excellent beginning for after the hols! (some have been on the to-read pile for a while, and I'm egging myself on).
@bernard: I've seen a couple of excellent fiction pamphlet ideas from colleagues with some covers; and I know for myself that a cover has impact, more than just a list. Glad the idea was useful.

Cheers, Ruth

Tehani Wessely said...

No wonder Soulless looked familiar! It's the one of the books in the series that this clip on how a book cover comes together is in!