Men and Books

A little while ago, my husband went on a trip and asked if I had anything to read that he could take with him. At first, I was worried I didn’t have any books that a man would enjoy reading! After all, my collection is full of 1930s murder mysteries, classics, historical murder mysteries set in various regions, books about books, historical fiction… I do have some interesting true crime books, but I wanted to recommend something gripping. Something that someone who reads magazines and lots of information online would still enjoy, despite it coming in the form of a book.

1. After a fresh look at my bookshelves with these criteria in mind, my eyes fell on
Headhunters by Jo Nesbo and I knew he’d enjoy it. Sure enough, he couldn’t put it down.
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Headhunters is an extremely fast-paced, incredible story of a man-hunt, fraud, and murder. I would also recommend Nemesis to those who don’t read many books. While other installments in Nesbo’s detective Harry Hole series can be quite dark, Nemesis isn’t quite as graphic or disturbing as some of the others, and it’s a thriller with a shocking twist I never saw coming.

2. Who doesn’t like James Bond?! Nobody. Or at least, lots of people like the movies. And you may or may not know that the movies are based on books. So if you know someone who loves the movies, they might enjoy reading the books as well. It’s always interesting to see how closely the movie adaptation adheres to the original work.
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3. Dan Brown’s books are always action-packed, and Deception Point is no exception. Unlike many of his other works, however, this one has nothing to do with art history. It takes place in the arctic and keeps you glued to the story from page one. This book is perfect for saying, “Just read the first 10 pages,” because I guarantee it will hook anyone long before they get to page 10.
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All of these books are written by men, and have male protagonists. If there’s a man in your life who doesn’t love reading quite as much as you do, these may help to bring him over to the dark side 😉

Classics Re-visited

Earlier this year I mentioned that I planned to re-read some of the classics I’ve read years ago, and I did! I read The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, and The Hobbit. I’m hoping to add The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier to my list by the end of this year.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
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This is one of my favourite books. I first read it in high school, and it has remained a favourite for all these years. I even named my cat Percy after the hero 🙂 It takes place at the time of the French Revolution, during Robespierre’s reign of terror. In a gripping tale of suspense, espionage, mistaken identity and love, we meet the daring British men who smuggle French aristocrats out of their homeland to safety, at great risk to their own lives.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
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This is also a favourite of mine, if only because it was so surprising. Written in 1859, the story is incredibly creepy and chilling, and when I first read it (also years ago), I had no idea that semi-early Victorian writers could produce works that would keep modern readers glued to the page. Collins is often cited as the creator of the detective novel, by whom Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was inspired. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It begins by drawing us in right away, and continues as we meet the man whom our heroine is engaged to marry, and who is not at all what he appears to be. There is greed, more mistaken identity, murderous cunning and a brilliant plot that brings a very satisfying conclusion.

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
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Many people are familiar with The Lord of the Rings and middle earth. My father read this book to me when I was about 10, and the only thing I could remember of it was the description of Gollum. I realized it was high time I re-visited this classic and read it over the summer. It was fun to watch the movies afterwards (I always enjoy comparing books to their movie versions), and I’m glad I read this book again. What an epic tale! And while I rarely delve into the fantasy genre, it was highly entertaining to read of the dwarves’ quest for their stolen treasure, and to meet all the different creatures they encounter on their journey.

If you’re looking for something to read and have not enjoyed these classic tales before, or if you have read them but it’s been a while, I recommend all three and hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

I Never Would’ve Read That!

Over the years, friends and family have broadened my reading horizons considerably. Gifts and reading recommendations have influenced me to read things that I never would have read on my own. Some examples of recommendations are: Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, Headhunters by Jo Nesbø, and Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. Each of these are books that did not catch my eye in the bookstore or library, but came with such persuasive insistence that I would enjoy them, that I felt I should at least give them the 50-page trial. And while each of them are totally different genres, they were all page-turners that I thoroughly enjoyed (and now recommend to others).
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My parents gave me the adorable, heart-warming story of Dewey the Library Cat by Vicki Myron for my birthday and I was unfamiliar with this amazing true story. I would never have picked it up if I’d seen it on the shelf at a bookstore, but after I unwrapped it and read about the poor kitten who was left for dead in the library’s book return and lived to brighten countless lives, I couldn’t resist it!

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King was a birthday present some years ago now, and as with Dewey, I was a little surprised when I unwrapped it. But, I had such a high regard for the friend who gave it to me, that when they told me that they had not only enjoyed it, but thought of me when reading it, I gave it a go. And I did love it! They were right – Ross King brings the history of the Sistine Chapel ceiling to life in an unforgettable, intriguing way.

Yet another birthday brought me Secret Sanction, the first in a series by Brian Haig, and I thought, “Hm..” when I opened it. Military suspense/thrillers are okay, but once again, not something I look for. I enjoyed it so much that I bought all the others in the series. Haig’s dry wit actually had me chuckling out loud throughout the books while I also enjoyed the action and suspense.
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In fact, the bookmark pictured here in Dewey, and that fun mug are gifts too. 🙂 Have you received gifts or recommendations that prompted you to read something you would otherwise not have considered? It’s always such a nice surprise to have your horizons broadened enjoyably!

Creepy Classics

As someone whose reading preferences lean towards the light-hearted and uplifting, it’s rare that I read something dark. But over the years, I have read those wonderfully creepy tales by Poe, and I’ll never forgot how downright shocked I was when I read Dracula, having expected something far more demure and reserved from a Victorian novel. I added The Picture of Dorian Gray to my reading list a few years back, so I have ventured down the path of creepy reading, but it’s not somewhere I go very often.

To those who haven’t read Dracula, you need to read it. Is there anyone out there who hasn’t read Edgar Allan Poe? Probably not, so I won’t recommend those (but just in case you haven’t – they’re short, so you don’t have to invest a lot of time, but they are thoroughly frightening and just right for this time of year). My suggestions for this post aren’t very quirky or unusual (being classics..), but they do fit nicely into the October/Hallowe’en theme. I still haven’t read Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I really should get around to those one day, because those would also fit this reading category, from what I’ve heard. Are there other creepy classics out there? Does anyone have any other recommendations? Oh, and check out my corresponding Bookstagram! (don’t forget: wmgirl01 on Instagram)
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Happy autumn, and happy reading!

Controversial Books

My sincere apologies for not writing much lately. Life has been far too busy and is starting to seriously impair my ability to write an engaging blog. Blogs are meant to be fun and not a source of stress, however, so I continue on and blog when I can, in the hopes that you all understand and don’t hold the infrequency of my posting against me.

Now that it’s well into September and school is in full swing, I wanted to do a post on controversial books. I’ve just begun reading The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, and I still recall the uproar it caused when it was first published in 1988.
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Last year I read Native Son by Richard Wright, which has been ‘challenged’ repeatedly since it was published. The challengers are right – it does have very explicit sexual scenes and violence, but it is an incredible book. I still can’t believe it was written in 1940, with a searing social commentary on race relations in the United States that is still relevant today.
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I’m looking forward to the epic read that Satanic Verses promises to be, and I wonder what controversial books all of you have read. Did you enjoy it (or them)? Did you wish you hadn’t read it, or agree with those who challenged it – that it should not have been published? Or did you like it so much you wish it were required reading for everyone?

Stories for Those Whose Passion is Books

For those of us who are familiar with bibliographic terms such as ‘signature,’ ‘quarto,’ or ‘catchword,’ there are books out there whose protagonists are just as in love with books as we are. Please enjoy these recommendations below:

The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett (2013)
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Of the books recommended here, this one has the strongest focus on the details of bookbinding. The story has a lot of bibliographic detective work, as well as a strong link to Shakespeare, and is a gripping page-turner to boot!

The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (1993; English translation published in 1996)
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There is more detective work in this book as well, with three potential forgeries of a seventeenth-century book whose author was burned at the stake. Interesting details on the life of Alexandre Dumas add to the educational value of this novel, but more of a focus on the occult in the last quarter of the book made me enjoy it slightly less towards the end. But nevertheless, this is a riveting read.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (2001; English translation published in 2004)
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There are fewer bookishly technical terms in this book, although the protagonist works in a bookshop owned by his father, and has a deep love for books. This is not a light-hearted read by any stretch of the imagination, but the author’s delightful turn of phrase had me chuckling out loud many times throughout. Mystery, cruelty, love, redemption and books fill a full 487 pages, and will be very difficult to put down once you start it.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006)
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This story also features a protagonist who loves books and whose father owns a bookstore. It tells the story of a famous author who is at the end of her life, and her story really does not relate to books, except that it is being made into one. However, it is still an intricately woven tale that keeps you guessing until the very end.

WWW Wednesdays

Well, here it is, Wednesday already. A couple of weeks ago, I tried participating in Should Be Reading‘s WWW Wednesdays event, and it was kind of fun. I missed last Wednesday, but I thought I might try it again today. The rules are, you share (1) What you are currently reading, (2) What you recently finished reading, and (3) What you plan to read next.

(1) I’m currently reading, The English Girl by Daniel Silva (2013). A spy thriller, and good so far, but I’ve barely started it.

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(2) I recently finished reading The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2014). It was heart-warming, but also sad. A keeper, though. I love books about bookstores.

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(3) Next I think I will read The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller (2011). Set in post WW1 England, it’s also a thriller, and it was a Christmas gift from my father (thanks, Dad!).

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That’s it for this week’s WWW Wednesday installment. Feel free to comment with your own WWW Wednesday titles, or put a link to your WWW Wednesday post in the comments, or go straight to the source and comment at Should be Reading.

WWW Wednesdays

Should Be Reading hosts a weekly event called WWW Wednesdays (or at least it was hosted through 2014. I hope it’s still a thing..) where you share (1) What you’re currently reading, (2) What you recently finished reading, and (3) What you think you’ll read next. This is the first time I’ve contributed to a WWW Wednesday, but since there are a few minutes of Wednesday left, I thought I’d try it out and see how it feels.

(1) I’m currently reading Native Son by Richard Wright, first published in 1940.

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(2) I just finished reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2013);

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(3) and next I plan to read The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2014).

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(3)(i) Or maybe The English Girl by Daniel Silva (2013). I’m not sure yet.

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So there you have it: my first WWW Wednesday installment. Feel free to comment with your own WWW Wednesday titles, or put a link to your WWW post in the comments, or go straight to the source and comment at Should be Reading.

High School Books

In high school English class, we all had various books assigned to us. In grade 9 I read The Chrysalids and Lord of the Flies, both of which I thoroughly unenjoyed.

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In grade 10 it was To Kill a Mockingbird, and I honestly don’t remember any books from grades 11 or 12. My last year went out with a bang, featuring a spectacularly depressing book by a Canadian author, The Stone Angel. (Yes, that was back when there were 5 years of high school here. But that’s for another post. Or even another blog.)

So now I ask you, dear readers, what did you read in high school English (aside from Shakespeare)? Please share! A synopsis and your opinions would be lovely, but I don’t ask you to invest a lot of time. Just some titles and comments. I’m looking forward to comparing our experiences!

 

Fiction Titles – A Shoutout to the 1990s (approximately)

Landscape of Lies by Peter Watson

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  • This is a page-turning thriller based on an enigmatic message from a medieval painting. Set in 1989, it’s also a entertaining trip down memory lane. Check out more reviews on Amazon.com, but beware, this link is to a new edition from 2005, so I don’t know how much editing has occurred in it.

The Eight by Katherine Neville

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  • The Eight is truly epic, spanning centuries and the entire globe. Also set around 1990, this book is a page-turner thriller. Check out more reviews on Amazon.com.

An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears

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  • I read this book in my early twenties and found it a very intense read, but I was proud of myself when I finished it.  Another work that falls firmly into the ‘epic’ category, it is a fascinating account of seventeenth-century science and a riveting mystery with a very unexpected ending. Highly recommended! Check out more reviews on Amazon.com.