Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's with you, kid? You think the death of Sammy Davis left an opening in the Rat Pack?

I've been getting my reading mojo back recently. I had a bit of a slump a while back, when I found it difficult to get into anything but I think being on holiday and having lots of time to read enthused me again. So here is a list of some of my most-loved books (in no particular order)

Anne of Green Gables - L.M Montgomery
I think anyone who knows me knows of my love for the Anne books. For simplicity I have just named the first in the series, but I love all of them, even the later ones where Anne moves into the background and the narrative focuses on her children. If I had read the books first as an adult I might not have loved them as well as I do - they are full of morals and religion. Reading the first book as an adult, I came to realise that the story isn't just of how Anne changes and grows, but how Marilla changes by opening her heart to love. I loved all of Anne's adventures and the books are faithful friends that I never tire of reading.

Diary of a Provincial Lady - E.M. Delafield

(This one gets a picture of the cover because I could find a picture of the edition I have, hurrah!)
As with the Anne books, this covers the series of Provincial Lady books written by E.M. Delafield - Diary of a Provincial Lady, The Provincial Lady Goes Further, The Provincial Lady in America and The Provincial Lady in Wartime. The Provincial Lady of the title is accident-prone, self-conscious and long-suffering and she is very, very funny. I identify with her constant feeling that she is less well-dressed and socially capable than her friends, and in her struggles with irritating neighbours and friends she doesn't like I take great comfort. These are among the few books that can make me laugh out loud.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 - Sue Townsend

Another diary, and another series! I haven't read all of the Adrian Mole books - I have yet to read The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole or Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years, but I will. These are more books that make me laugh out loud, although they are a lot bleaker than the Provincial Lady. I think my favourite thing about the series isn't Adrian, but the turbulent lives of his parents, George and Pauline. I love the way that Sue Townsend documents the period as well - Pauline goes to Greenham Common and reads The Female Eunuch, Adrian becomes a celebrity chef in a restaurant dedicated to offal. I look forward to seeing how life has turned out for the middle-aged Adrian.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavlier and Clay - Michael Chabon

Just one book this time, rather than a series. I love the scope of this book as much as everything else. This book took me by surprise, I'm not interested in Escapology but the decriptions of Joe Kavalier's training riveted me. Joe Kavalier, the sad-eyed, haunted soul, is one of my favourite characters from literature. Following the course of his, Sam and Rosa's lives was wonderful and moving. I really hope that the constant rumours that this will be made into a film are wrong. It would make a terrible film, but it is a magical book.

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors - Roddy Doyle

This is one of the very few books that has made me cry. I really cried, as well, I put the book down and howled. Paula Spencer, the narrator, is 39. She has four children, lives in a council estate in Dublin, is an alcoholic and a battered wife. Her husband has been dead for a number of years, and Paula's voice recounts to us their courtship and marriage, her alcoholism and her struggle to get her life back together. So, you can see why I cried so much! One of the things I like so much about Roddy Doyle is his ear for language and his ability to write the rhythms of everyday speech, and this is what makes this novel so real and moving. It's not a misery-lit memoir, although there is hope for Paula there is no climactic triumph over adversity.

Germinal - Emile Zola

Germinal is a pretty tough read. It's unlikely that I would ever have read it, if I hadn't been studying it in my second year of university, I don't think the idea of reading about a load of French miners on strike would have appealed to me that much. I read it pretty quickly, out of necessity, but also because I was absorbed. Zola moves between the personal and political so well, the novel is a bit like a tapestry. I loved it so much I went out and bought as many of the Rougon-Maquart novels I could find translations of, and a big old biography of the man himself.

Well, I'll leave it there for now, even though 6 seems like an eccentric number to leave it on. I'll have to add more at a later date.

Oh, and on a similar note, I've finished Year of Wonders and have started The Parasites by Daphne du Maurier. I'm not sure what I think of it yet, I'm only about 30 pages in. It's calling to mind The Fountain Overflows and Sunflower by Rebecca West, so I will stick with it I think.