Saturday, March 13, 2010

In the pipeline

The conundrum of light reading is that one always needs a good supply of it, but that the times when it would most be a balm (busy, stressful regular life) are also the times when one is least likely to have the attention to secure a sufficient supply, especially in times of frugality (i.e. no non-essential Amazon purchasing while on half-pay sabbatical)!

I am still harping on Dorothy Dunnett and the way that having those two series stacked on the floor of my living room, with many volumes left to read, made me feel calm and happy, so I figured I'd better sink a bit of attention in securing a really good supply of light reading for the next couple months. I have put out the call for suggestions, and got some good ones (I have always avoided Jacqueline Carey's books, for instance, due to trashy covers and the suspicion that they were perhaps not quite what I most enjoy, but Charlie Jane's recommendation has now caused me to obtain as much of the Carey oeuvre as I could lay hands on), but the really obvious thing to do was to go and trawl through the archives of Maxine's truly excellent crime fiction blog Petrona.

One of my favorite things in the world is the amazing Borrow Direct, which has basically been the gateway to all sorts of amazing reading for me since the service was initiated in 1999. I am in love with Borrow Direct! (And I feel certain that if they keep statistics, I must be in the top 100 users, if not top 10...) So I had an absolutely maniacal fit of BorrowDirecting the other night, and then on Wednesday I returned a cartload of books to the library and went to the circulation desk to pick up the volumes I had requested.

I told the girl at the desk that I had requested quite a lot of books (otherwise they don't know if they're just looking for one book for you or many), and she looked at my ID card and said "You sure did!" It was a good thing I had the cart with me - I had not quite imagined the sheer bulk...

Anyway, the first volume I read was one to which Maxine had given an especially good recommendation, Liz Rigbey's Total Eclipse. I found it absolutely gripping - it is not exactly like Tana French, but it has the same quality that French's novels do of being both very much like and at the same time infinitely superior to the common fare in the genre. Then I read David Levien's City of the Sun, which I also found excellent. Only trouble is, crime novels are mostly so short! But this pile will tide me over for the next month or so...


  1. I had Borrow Direct at Cornell and how I miss it.

    The Fallada is amazing, the Indridason and the Meyer terrific.

    Edwardsson and Eriksson I could never quite get into.

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts as you make your way through these glorious piles.

  2. In Ohio, OhioLink made academic life possible. Even here, in the public library world, as opposed to the realm of university libraries, the Minuteman consortium of local libraries is the succor of my existence--especially since we have a library branch at the end of our street so I can just pop down and pick them up as soon as they arrive. Waiting on Patti Smith and a host of novels as we speak. Enjoy your books!

  3. What a lovely post - and thank you so much for your generous comments! I am so pleased that you find my recommendations, er, readable - it's always a bit of a responsibility isn't it, in case everyone else simply hates a book one likes?
    I am glad you enjoyed Total Eclipse, it is a book that has stuck in my mind. I've recently obtained her third which does not look that short ;-)

    By the way, if you have not read Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantell, that is not short either. Prof Petrona is currently reading it and says it is extremely good so far..... He usually reads non-fiction, and has just finished a new bio of Edward III which he said is excellent.

    Turning to the somewhat more lowbrow, I am eagerly awaiting your views on Deon Meyer, I think he's very Peter Temple-like so I anticipate you will like him. Hope so, anyway.

    Thanks again for your very kind comments in your post. Love your library trolley!!

  4. Oh what a glorious mob of books! (Can we say "mob"? Or is it "herd" or in this case - more of a "murder" of books?)

    Have you read Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series? The first is the slowest as there is so much backstory to get through and set-up, etc but all the mysteries are great and I love the history. I'm especially fond of that period in history (between the world wars) and Winspear captures it brilliantly.

    I also really enjoy the Martin Limon's Sueno & Bascom series set in Korea during the early 1970s. They are military police procedurals but so full of the time and place that to me they really go far outside the box. Plus I've sent them to my brother who is a former marine (not army as the series) but was stationed in Korea (in the 80s) and he says they nail the military/local culture mix there to a T. Just very different reading for me, but fast going and really quite interesting.