A little summer reading

‘Tis the season to turn off the phone, lock the door and curl up with a cat and a good book.  Preferably with a cup of tea within reach.  And okay, yes, a slice of Christmas cake.  Maybe a little chocolate, just in case…

Turn page, or eat chocolate? Choices, choices.

With the rain pelting down (well, it was) and long summer daze ahead (could be), N8N decided to find out what others were burying their noses into when it comes to reading material.  Maybe someone will suggest a new book or author we really should know about.  Or remind us of an old classic that needs further attention.

Send in what you’re reading.  And why you like it.  It’s good to share.

Perry Rice, Hamilton Central Libraries, N8N history columnist
My current ‘nose in’ is mostly The Third Policeman by Flan O’Brien, the great Oirish satirist and civil servant. He’s maybe a cross pollination of Spike Milligna (the well known typing error) and Terry Pratchett!

Now – there’s a coincidence – both Terence!

Alan Leadley, Friends of Pukemokemoke
I know this will sound incredibly boring, even pretentious, but I’m looking forward this week to reading the last three quarters of a book which I started about two months ago: The Clash of Fundamentalisms, which is about crusades and jihads, etc.

I wanted to finish it before our national Interfaith Forum in February being held in Hamilton. The Forum is all about building bridges of respect and understanding among the many faith communities in our current New Zealand society.

Some of you may have heard the author of the book being interviewed by Kim Hill on National Radio.  Tariq Ali is an amazing writer on world history and politics; he is lucid and honest and finds little to distinguish between the organised violence of the United States’ wars and Islamic fundamentalism.

I might need a stiff brandy to help me through this brilliant read!

Daniel Mills, N8N art guy
I‘m reading Volume 15 of The Walking Dead, a graphic novel by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Charlie Adlard.  It’s got zombies, it’s got horses.  It doesn’t have many horses, but I’m actually napping on the couch now, and must not be disturbed.

Nicole Wilkins, Gordonton resident (and keen to set up a book club in the area – more on that and Nicole in the New Year.)

I’ve got a few on the go. Boudica, a non-fiction by Vanessa Collingridge; Into the Wilderness, fiction by Sara Donati – which is not my usual cup of tea.  It is very similar to Diana Gabaldon’s Cross Stitch series which I read the first two books and loathed;  it is supposed to be more cerebral and less bodice-ripping.

As I’m out of PG Wodehouse, I’ve got a little light read from MC Beaton and her Hamish Macbeth murder mystery, practically a pocket book and great for the read you have when you’re not really reading.

I’m dipping in and out of The Assassin’s Cloak – An anthology of the world’s greatest diarists. I love diaries and my first was Pepys, encountered in my late 20s.

And, last but definitely not least, I will be finishing Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. Finishing in this case means I will savour the last couple of chapters. I bought it a couple of years ago and it is such a wonderful read, sad but in an unusual bitter-sweet way. It’s quite a quick read, but if I put it down I could stretch out the enjoyment. A wee bit like hiding a couple of pieces of chocolate for later, much later.

Judy McDonald, Living Streets Hamilton
I’m reading The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault – a devious tale involving a bunch of editorial assistants at a dictionary publishing company. As a proofreader and copy editor, I feel right at home…

And tedious as it may sound, it is a really nifty mystery, with the clues to a possible murder concealed in the citations index in quotations from a book that doesn’t  exist. What’s more, it’s well-written, has interesting characters and a mild love interest as well. Ideal wet-weather reading really.

The only problem is that ‘cos it’s wet and the holidays I tend to go to sleep while reading it, but that’s the fault of the consumer, not the book!

Iris Riddell, N8N journalist
I’m halfway through Fool’s Fate, the third book in the Tawny Man trilogy by Robin Hobb. Tawny Man follows right on from the events in the Farseer trilogy, which I started reading at about this time last year.
The books follow Fitz-Chivalry Farseer, a Royal bastard and assassin who is very good at getting in to trouble, and equally good at getting out of it.
My favourite things about the books? First, the depth of the world Hobb has created, and the characters who inhabit it. Time and time again, I have to remind myself I’m reading fantasy, not historic fiction.
I get emotionally attached to the characters – some I love, some I loathe, some I feel edgy and mistrustful of, some are a mix of all three. I’ve actually had dreams set in Hobb’s world – that’s how invested I’ve become.
The second thing is the relationship the reader builds up with Fitz-Chivalry himself. I feel like I’ve grown up with him, an eerie sense I haven’t had from a book since Harry Potter. Fitz’s story starts when he arrives at the fortress Buckeep at six years old. You are with him through his childhood to his adult years, and watch him being shaped and scarred by the events life hurls at him. He feels like an old friend to me, except he doesn’t exist.
This series has ensnared me in a way no other ever has. I feel almost mournful at the thought that it’s coming to an end. Luckily, it’s probably been long enough since I’ve read the first one for me to read it again. Rinse and repeat…

Annette Taylor, N8N journalist
I’ve just finished reading my grandfather Jack’s memoirs of World War One.  He’d written them up by hand on random sheets of paper, typed a few pages here and there but thankfully his oldest son, my uncle, gathered them together and popped them on to a computer.
Like so many others, granddad lied about his age to join up.  He turned 20 at the Somme, five days before Christmas, 1917.
“All candles out in half an hour… the snow has stopped.  A clear, starry sky – a strange sky.  No Southern Cross and familiar stars.  Our front line, and for very many miles right and left of it, was clearly defined by star shells gracefully soaring from the front trenches to No Man’s Land.  Bursts of machine gun fire never ceased…
“French soil was undergoing pollution by millions of men and for long periods we became part of it – very intimately.  Crunch, crunch, through snow to our billet.  Bed down, ground sheet, one blanket, overcoat and the filthy, ever present lice.”
He said it was his lot to spend two years in the battle area and survive.  His younger brother Herbert would join the same company near the end of the war and be killed on his first night in the trenches.
To read something written by my grandfather, who died when I was nine, was an incredible and quite moving experience.
For a change of pace, I’m now going to find out what Demelza and Ross are up to, in the third Poldark book, by Winston  Graham.

  • As we get ’em, we’ll post more of these up, for your reading pleasure.
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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

One thought on “A little summer reading

  • January 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    I have just this minute finished and put down The Fear Index by Robert Harris. A very good, contemporary tale about an algorithm for hedge fund investment that calculates its moves on market movements based on fear. Only it’s really an evolving artificial intelligence that lives for and protects its goal against all comers, including its inventor. The story is so current that it reflects and recounts all the mayhem in European markets and nations of the past year. An interesting one after the last one I read, which was Jared Diamond’s (non-fiction) Guns, Germs and Steel, essentially about the evolution of humans and our different societies and cultures and why technologically that happened at different rates in different parts of the world. Next up, Screwing Mother Nature for Profit by Elaine Smitha. Not a how-to but, I gather, an expose of ‘how corporations betray our trust’. I sense a bit of a theme though not one I was conscious of when I selected the books.


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