Tuesday, February 28, 2017

My reading this year so far...

There's one advantage (although there a trillion disadvantages) to being in hospital for over two weeks and that is, once the pain and trauma subsides, reading good books helps make it more bearable.

Although I love real proper paper, that is, books, my Kindle was perfect to read in bed in my hospital bed with its handy array of sockets (and of course my trusty charger.) I wasn't the only Kindle reader. The lady in the bed next to me was often reading hers, too. (We compared notes.) Very few other ladies in D bay, ward 36 read anything much apart from  the local newspaper or a magazine left by a visitor. They were all too busy on their mobiles - by the way, I have a bone to pick with hospitals about their current guidelines on phones. They used to ban them in case they interfered with medical equipment; then discouraged therm with a sniff  but now it's a free for all. Some ladies were yacking land laughing on theirs later than 11pm! But that's another subject all together.

Some of the books here I may have mentioned before; I hadn't yet got round to blogging about them before I was whisked away, lights flashing and sirens howling (only when we went through the occasional red light.) Most I read while I was 'inside' or whilst recovering at home.

I usually have several titles on the go- even when all is well - because my brain power waxes and wanes throughout the day. I can read more erudite books in the morning. By afternoon, I'm up for intelligent entertainment. In the evening or later at night, I choose something short and easily-digested. This is when short stories come into their own.

I am in the middle of Essie Fox's atmospheric The Last Days of Leda Grey. How she manages to convey the heat of the summer of 1976 and the sense that the reader is in the middle of a crumbling,  reel of old sepia celluloid film, is amazing. I have loved all her novels but this novel surpasses them all. It is if I am watching one of Jean Cocteau's films, particularly Orpheus, although they of a later date.

As you can see, I have not written detailed brilliant reviews in the style of the legendary Dove Grey Reader who also knits, makes exquisite patchwork, makes jam and pickles, tends her garden and probably, as we speak, is training to be an astronaut, but have done it the easy way and put up cover pictures of the books I have bought and read. I would have done so even if nobody else had  or will do.I am lazy. If you're interested, I am relying on you to find out in your own preferred way.

Chris Nickson's Leeds: the Biography is a series of short snatches of 'faction' which takes speculative snapshots of the expansion of Leeds from its very earliest days to the 20th century vibrant multi-cultural city it is today. It is an easy read and was perfect for me in hospital when my attention span at first was short. When I say 'faction' you might think it's dull. It is not. Several of the stories had me in floods of tears, like the one set in what is called 'The Harrowing of the North' by the Normans after a northern rebellion against the invasion. It was genocide, pure and simple. My belief is that the enduring North/South divide stems from this.

Finally, I am in the middle of writing an article/review about The Last Photograph by Emma Chapman for Historia, the on-line magazine of the Historical Writers' Association. This fine novel completely passed me by when it was published in 2016. Fortunately I came upon by sheer chance recently and have exchanged emails with the author. And I have a question for you. Do you remember the Vietnam war of the 1970s? Were you an anti-war protester? Did you wish you'd been to Woodstock? Were you a hippy or a wannabe hippie as I was? Weren't you glad that Harold Wilson refused to send British troops to fight like the Americans and Aussies?

And finally, in your opinion, can a novel set in the 70s a historical novel? Well I do and so does the author. This is what I will discuss in my article. Meanwhile, I would like you to read the novel. It's not just about Vietnam. It depicts British life in the sixties and seventies more accurately than I have read before. No mean feat.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much, Sally. I've only just seen this and, first and foremost, I hope you are feeling much better now. So sorry to hear you've been in hospital - and in view of that, how generous and kind to post these reviews. It is very much appreciated. Essie


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