Summer is for reading…
On average I read about two books a week. That takes into account the times when I don’t read much at all and those times when you can’t prise my fingers away from the book. I’ve been reading a lot of non fiction recently, working my way through various Jungian tomes, plus everything from Dion Fortune I can get my hands upon. I’ve also rediscovered Dennis Wheatley. My mother in law mentioned being so scared by The Haunting of Toby Jugg she couldn’t sleep (and never finished the book either) that I bought a second hand copy and roared through it. In the decades since the height of his fame, people have forgotten what a great storyteller he was and how superb he could be at hooking the reader into the story. I’ve ordered a second hand copy of one of his most famous novels but I intend to read it in broad day light. I found Toby Jugg a good read but it didn’t scare me much. I have strong nerves when it comes to the supernatural.
Anyway, I thought I’d share a few gems I’ve enjoyed recently.
The first is Can of Worms by Paul Trembling. This is an excellent book if you enjoy forensic/police procedural novels; it carries a ring of psychological truth that most such books don’t. Which is one reason why I seldom read them; the characters are too often card board cut outs and lack depth and reality.
Second I read ages ago but still love: Walker by Jane Alexander. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s labelled Young Adult (don’t get me started on this unnatural distinction created by genre-making publishers). The main character might be a teen age boy but the novel is one I think adults interested in shamanic ideas may well find enthralling. The plot draws you in and keeps you reading till the end comes only too quickly.
Third, again something I read ages back, Educating the Human by Kay Sluterbeck. I’d call it soft sci fi but as a gentle, very human read that explores all sorts of things such as a sentient house, it’s a read that doesn’t go in for dog fights in the stars or violence.
Still on the sci fi, there’s Return of the Sagan by Neil O Donnell Harder edged sci fi, this has a main character who suffers with OCD. The novel explores what it means to be human in a space age setting; I found it touching how movies and books (like The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings) from our era had become classics that people referred to much as we might reference Shakespeare. I’m not a huge sci fi fan, but I enjoyed this because I was really rooting for Francis, the hero of the story, that he might overcome both his external and internal challenges.
Next, two books in a series by Ailsa Abraham. Alchemy and Shaman’s Drum explore our world in the not-too-distant future, where the original organised religions have been banned from being practised in public. When I first came across the idea for these books, I was rather concerned, but in the context of the novels, the reasons and the results are revealed. I especially liked the two main characters Iamo and Riga.
I’ve already recommended Philippa Rees’s Involution but if you fancy tackling her other published work, A Shadow in Yucatan , I’d recommend that highly. Beautiful poetry weaves a very poignant and powerful novel. Read it aloud to yourself lying in a hammock on a hot day. I have beta read Philippa’s unpublished novel that isn’t poetry this time and I hope that one day it’ll be released too. She has a knack of writing deep stuff in a lighter manner than is sometimes exquisitely funny.
Anything by Gev Sweeney is a good read too. I read Beethoven’s Wife in Austria in February and loved it.
A final book, but one I haven’t read. Richard Pierce has written several excellent novels. Dead Men was short listed for the Guardian first book award, and it’s an excellent novel. However, in the wake of yet another fifty shades of cough cough cough, if you were looking for something a bit racy, then Richard’s book The Failed Assassin might be right up your street. It’s not a genre I read but the reviews look good; it’s billed as an erotic thriller. Give it a go if that’s your thing. If you like a mystery, then his Bee Bones is a good read too.
I’ll add at the very end that The Bet is currently on special offer (see previous post) for just 99p. Or £1.99 if you’re watching this on Dave. (UK readers will get that joke; for everyone else, I apologise!)
Have a wonderful summer reading.