The year in books: July-October

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Embarrassing… here’s what I’ve been reading for the last FOUR months, ahem:

Kapuściński – my book for June, was a great little book and well worth a read if, like me, you’re almost entirely ignorant of Africa, its cultures, history and more recent past.

London Review of Books – we used to subscribe to The New Yorker but it arrived on the doorstep every week and we ended up with racks full of unread issues. The LRB is a more manageable fortnightly read. I like it because the reviews are so detailed, you basically feel like you’ve read the book even though you haven’t, probably never wanted to and most likely never will. It also has generally excellent editorials on current affairs, including a beautifully written piece recently by James Meek on national identity and belonging in the context of the Scottish referendum.

Bodily Secrets by William Trevor – a book of five short stories I bought years ago and which I thought I’d read but revisiting again couldn’t remember most of them. Trevor captures perfectly in so few words the many forms that love can take. Touching, humorous, sad and bitter-sweet it’s one I will return to from time to time always discovering something new.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith – my read for September, given me by my neighbour in return for my copies of the Cazelet Saga. An engaging and humorous tale about intimate family life. Smith writes beautifully and it’s left me wanting to read more of her work.

The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann – this is my book for October. I first read it 11 years ago while doing my PhD. Although the story is familiar, I’d entirely forgotten that it’s written in a narrative form, privy to the inner thoughts and emotions of the main character, Olivia Cutis, as she negotiates a failed marriage, a penurious bohemian life in London, a doomed love affair with a man outside her class, and a secret abortion – what’s not to love!

Purest Pleasure: A Book of Garden Gossip by H. L. V. Fletcher – The insect motif above comes from the lining of this book – isn’t it pretty. This was given to me my mother-in-law.  I dream of transforming our concrete jungle of a yarden into a little oasis. This book takes you through month by month, with suggestions for what grows when and where, the history of plants and lots more. I keep my phone handy when reading so I can check what the plants look like and make a note for the future.

 

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