Welcome to this weekâ€™s blog. Hereâ€™s a roundup of your comments and photos from last week, including a defence of Googling while reading, immersive books that made a reader lock herself in a bathroom, and books youâ€™d turn into Lego kits.
I ground to a halt about halfway through last year, and picked it up again a couple of weeks ago. Now, with all the wealth of information photographs and video available on the Internet, not least David Attenboroughâ€™s â€œGalapagosâ€ documentaries, I can visualise the places Darwin writes about far more vividly than his 19th-century readers could. In fact I often find, when reading, that the Internet can make lots of obscure references and confusing descriptions crystal clear. St Petersburg in the 1860s? Paris during the first world war? The inside of a Napoleonic-era ship of the line? A few minutes on the Internet â€“ Wikipedia , You Tube, Google images, etc. â€“ and you can see these places. I find that enriches the reading experience immensely.
What can I say? Intriguing, fascinating, brilliantly imaginative, elegantly written, like no other detective novel Iâ€™ve ever read (if it is a detective novel), and over the years Iâ€™ve read a lot. Iâ€™m even writing one at the moment (actually itâ€™s a PI novel.) Austerâ€™s characters appear to be straight out of a classic noir novel on their first appearance, but you soon realise theyâ€™re something else entirely. Just go out and buy it.
Itâ€™s an intriguing experience to be back in the Bainbridge world again, it being one I find very tight, and pinched, and claustrophobic (although not negatively so). This is my third time reading her â€” after An Awfully Big Adventure and Injury Time â€” and although all three novels contain varying subject matter (a theatre company; a hostage situation; Adolf Hitler paying a family visit) they seem to me to be concerned with the same essential things: people as individuals, especially their private motivations and resentments; people as part of families, how relatives can both confine us and comfort us (often at the very same time); class â€” whether working or middle, aspirational or resigned â€” and what that means as to how we live; women and sex.
They also share an overwhelming atmosphere of drabness and abjectness and lowness.
Young Adolf has provoked a very familiar response in me as a result of these recurring themes and moods. I always tend to feel a bit hopeless when I pick up a Bainbridge book, a bit trapped, and I tend to laugh, too. Itâ€™s all so close; Bainbridge surrounds me as a reader. Although her books are brief, I feel stuck in them, lost in their little colourless realities.
It was amazing and totally unlike anything Iâ€™ve ever read before. You are completely immersed in the subconscious of the protagonist and at first the unusual syntax was difficult to read but it quickly began to feel entirely true. Iâ€™ve never been possessed by a book in quite that way. Reading it in Guangzhou airport during a 12 hour layover, at one point I had to lock myself in a bathroom cubicle and do some deep breathing just to pull myself back together before interacting with other people. I canâ€™t recommend the book highly enough.
Welcome to the community to ID0707631, who has just made a decision about their reading habits:
Last week I decided that I wouldnâ€™t buy any further books until Christmas Day. Iâ€™ve got so many books on my TBR shelves and yet I kept buying more. Well, I figured enough is enough, I will read the (anticipated, many fantastic) books on my shelves, borrow books from friends/library (I think itâ€™s important to support the latter, and Iâ€™ve not been doing enough of it of late) and I can pick up free books from the work book box. So Iâ€™ve got five months ahead without any new book purchases! Iâ€™ll keep you posted as to how it goes.
I started with reading Dominion by CJ Sansom. Iâ€™ve got a couple of his titles on my TBR list but this is the one that I wanted to take on first. It was really evident that heâ€™d done a massive amount of research into this novel, which creates an alternative ending to the Second World War; at no time did it feel glossed-over and not believable. I loved the touches such as the 1952 fog, an occurrence that really did happen. A great espionage novel.
Interesting links about books and reading
- If you could turn a book into a Lego kit, which one would you choose? judgeDAmNation put this question out there after reading this Book Riot piece. Your suggestions so far: Gormenghast, The Shining, The Dark Tower series, Borgesâ€™s library and the tennis academy and addictsâ€™ recovery house in Infinite Jest. Not bad!
- Russiaâ€™s Book Industry Shrinks as Russians Stop Reading: The Moscow Times on the decline of reading and the book industry in that highly literate country. Thanks to frustratedartist for the recommendation.
- Books Hotter Than NYC Summer Afternoons: a nice listicle blog by the New York Public Library about books set in very hot places. Of course, we will not be reading this to laugh at the misery of daily enduring sizzling subway platforms and steaming pavement, but rather, to daydream from our ever-mild London summer.
- Joe Gouldâ€™s Real Secret: The story of the longest book ever written, in The New Yorker.
- Two Bookstores with Bay Area Roots Help Literary Life Thrive in Paris: we always love a piece mixing travel and literature , especially if bookshop maps are thrown in. From the San Francisco Chronicle.
New: If youâ€™re on Instagram and a book lover, chances are youâ€™re already sharing beautiful pictures of books you are reading, â€œshelfiesâ€ or all kinds of still lifes with books as protagonists. Now, you can share your reads with us on the mobile photography platform â€“ simply tag your pictures there with #GuardianBooks, and weâ€™ll include a selection here.
If you would like to share a photo of the book you are reading, or film your own book review, please do. Click the blue button on this page to share your video or image. Iâ€™ll include some of your posts in next weekâ€™s blog.
And, as always, if you have any suggestions for topics youâ€™d like to see us covering beyond TLS, do let us know.