5 Aug 2009

Monthly Reading: July'09

I thought I would have read more this month, what with pool sessions and all that, but I got stuck on a rather slow book (which I haven't finished yet). Thankfully several hours in airports and aeroplanes gave me the chance to go through a few more. ;o)

El Juego del Angel (The Angel's Game) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
The much anticipated novel after his astonishing success with La Sombra del Viento (Shadows of the Wind) a few years back (which I actually heard of through a review by the NY Times!), it's actually taken me a while to buy this one... hardbacks are so expensive and I was worried that it wouldn't be able to hold a candle to La Sombra del Viento (which I adored so much I think I gave it as a birthday present to at least 4-5 friends! twice in Spanish, twice in French and once in English, lol!) that I kept putting off the purchase. Well it doesn't quite have the same magic as SdV, but it is still a wonderful tale, along the magic realism vein... The story takes place a generation earlier than SdV, within the same societies in Barcelona. It's still a tale with a "forbidden love story" and books at the centre, in this case a young author and the book he is commissioned to write by a mysterious editor from Paris (who represents a slightly "fantastical" element to the story).
Damn! I should have written this review right when I finished it and was so immersed in the story it was all I could think of... now it's a bit lost in the fog of time and other books. But I do say I can't recommend it highly enough (ditto with his previous novel La Sombra del Viento).

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Totally engrossing! I found myself reading waaay past my bedtime a couple of nights in a row with this one, couldn't put it down! If I hadn't been so tired (and had things to do the next day) I might have read the night away! :p
Another book about books, about an author... can you tell by these choices how much I like books? ;o) In this case it's a mystery to be solved, the mystery of the life of a best-selling author who prefers telling stories to telling the truth, but as she feels the final grains of sand slipping through the hourglass she ensares a young amateur biographer to tell her "true" life story to, in which she is just an afterthought. A tale of tragedy, of whimsy, of mystery... Written mostly in first person narrative, very fast-paced... I dare you to be able to put this book down once you get close to the end!

Children of Men by P.D. James
Found this one under a bridge! No really! While in London, after having gone up on the Eye and while waiting near the BFI for a friend to join us for dinner, my sister and I spent a half-hour or so browsing titles among the collections of several second-hand booksellers (laid out on tables under a bridge, lol!). I was so pleased to find this one, I've been meaning to read it for years! I discovered PD James' novels several years ago on a trip, she's the one who seduced me back in to the world of crime novels with her series based around Adam Dalgiesh of Scotland Yard, the poet cop. I enjoy her writing and as a Sci-Fi fan this title was on my shopping waiting list. Then the wonderful movie (directed by Alfonso Cuarón, starring Clive Owen) came out a couple of years ago and I decided to wait a bit to avoid comparisons. As I had read, the two are quite different animals. The general concept is the same: at some point in the 1990s the last child was born (all children born that year are called "Omegas"), humanity has been stricken by a plague of infertility and nothing can be done about it. Into this despondent world comes the tale of a man related to the ruler (Warden) of England (although I believe in the film Xan's role is different) and a pregnant woman and the birth of a new hope for humanity. Both tales also use the events in the background as a critique of society (treatment of immigrants, xenophobia, an absolutist state etc.), the main characters (Julian, Jasper, Theo...) have the same names, but therein ends the resemblance (in the movie Julian is Theo's ex, in the book no relation). The two are entirely different animals (although there are obviously more details discussed in the book), and for once I like them equally! The movie is a must-see and the book a must-read. Although I must admit that while reading it I kept seeing Clive Owen in my mind's eye as Theo Faren. ;o)

I'll sign off with a London Post-script... Many people here in continental Europe, when they talk about visiting London plan on going shopping. Visiting Harrods, the various markets, a whole assortment of upscale shops... I myself am not immune to this London shopping craze, indeed each time I set foot in the city I can't avoid popping into my three favourite stores: Borders, Forbidden Planet and Blackwell's... three excellent bookstores! :o) For me a trip to London is a chance to replenish my stores. Search for the odd title I can't get here (the Fnac has books in English and French, but a very limited selection of classics and "bestsellers"), browse the shelves in search for new titles and authors that might catch my eye (which is something that just doesn't feel the same via the online stores). I think I went a bit book-crazy this time, what with summer sales and all! "3 for 2" offers in Borders, "4 for 3" in the WH Smith at the airport... I couldn't resist! Plus I was shopping for books that might be of interest to my English students here... The result? Well see for yourself:

note: when I took this shot I had already delivered several volumes to some of my students.

You'll be hearing more about some of these titles shortly. ;o)


  1. I haven't read Children of Men, but I LOVED the movie.

  2. I really enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale too.

  3. I love the film of Children of Men, I must read the book. I've heard good things about the Percy Jackson series, a lot of people talked about it at the conference, though it seems to be bigger in America than over here at the moment (which may change when the movie comes out...)

  4. the novel Children of Men is different enough from the movie that you won't be constantly comparing the two and you can appreciate each one separately!

    Juliette, you heard people speaking positively of the Percy Jackson series at the conference? Cool! I read about them on Neolibrariumm:
    (they've also got individual reviews fro each book)

  5. I must say...I am green with envy...I miss shopping in London, it's been years. Smiles.


Hey there! Yes you! The quiet one in the back... I'd love it if you hung out for a bit and shared your thoughts!

I might stop by your place with an answer, but I'm more likely to reply right here so click on "email follow up comments" if you'd like to see what I and others have to say and come continue the conversation! ;o)