Friday, 15 October 2010

Month in Review: September 2010

Making Money (Discworld, #36)
New reads
Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane - Andrew Graham-Dixon
I love Caravaggio's paintings, and this book not only has plates of most of them (which I ran around showing my housemates) but also goes into detailed exploration of them.  There was a lot of flicking back and forth between text and image and saying of 'oh, I hadn't noticed that'.  It's also one of those biographies - like Claire Tomalin's Jane Austen: A Life - where even though you know how it ends you're still willing it not to happen, especially as his death (there, spoiled it) is both a mystery and lonely.  Definitely recommend the book, even to those who know nothing about him.  

Scott Pilgrim 6 - Bryan Lee O'Malley
Read because I was planning to see the film until illness and hectic schedules got in the way.  I read the first three at uni, in about 2007, and had a quick power through the last three in August/September this year.  It deserves more than a quick power through, though, as the series is brilliant.  The end is awesome.  And Wallace is the best.  

Making Money - Terry Pratchett
Didn't enjoy this as much as Going Postal (see below) but it was still good because, well, it's Pratchett.  I can't detail the parts I really did enjoy without hideously spoiling, though if they ever try to film it as a sequel to Going Postal I can see some problems - especially with what Mr Fusspot was running round with in his mouth.  Not my favourite Discworld, and not one I'd give to someone starting on the series, but still a damn good read.   

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Everyone and their dog has read this series but me.  I started reading The Hunger Games because Mockingjay was out and I wanted to read the trilogy in one go (I'd rather not have to deal with cliffhangers and waiting for next volumes if I possibly can).  However - as the fact that I have yet to pick up Catching Fire even though it is right there on my To Be Read pile shows - I stopped after the first one.  It's so intense.  And, as I texted a friend repeatedly, fucked up.  Every time I thought it couldn't get any worse, it did.  This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy it: it's well-written, unputdownable and gave me a deep urge to skip to the end so I could check everyone I wanted to made it out alive but I couldn't jump right into Catching Fire afterwards for fear of my brain dribbling out my ears.  

Read for Project Fill in the Gaps, because, y'know, it won the Booker.  The style took a bit of getting used to, but after the first few pages I was hooked.  It's an easy read, despite being so densely packed with detail (and big enough to brain a person).  The main issue I had was entirely my own: I don't know the Tudor period half as well as I thought I did.  I've studied it, I've watched David Starkey walk round Hampton Court proclaiming about it, but I couldn't remember when Ann Boleyn fell (spoiler) or when Thomas More was executed (and another).  I was tempted to look it up online, but decided against it because I was enjoying Mantel's take on events too much - I actually liked Thomas Cromwell, who I've usually seen presented as a good organiser but dastardly destroyer of monasteries, oh the bastard.  I need to write a fuller review of this, because it deserves it, but I highly recommend it.

Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
Another for Project Fill in the Gaps, and my choice for Banned Books Week.  Read it in one sitting, right after finishing Wolf Hall, so I was up till 2am and didn't care.  I can't think of an adequate way to describe the book, except that I was often laughing and getting angry at the same time.  And now I want to read as much Vonnegut as I can get my hands on, starting with Mother Night.  Possibly my favourite of everything I read in September, and therefore hardest for me to define - it was amazing.  There, inadequate but it sums it up.

Going Postal - Terry Pratchett
Reread this before reading Making Money, as needed to remind myself of Moist's backstory.  I could remember not enjoying the book much the first time I read it, but on reread I couldn't work out what the hell I was thinking.  It's fantastic.  Maybe not as much my favourite as Night Watch or Thief of Time, but still bloody brilliant, especially the resolution - which is, marvellously, the right resolution.  And I snorted on a train at "[h]ere's that damn enormous fiery eye again" (p330 in my edition).

Maurice - E.M. Forster
Read again after my housemate and I spent a day perving on Rupert Graves watching Merchant Ivory adaptations of Forster.  I'd read the last third or so (Scudder!) a lot but hadn't reread the beginning with Cambridge and Clive and things that make me want to beat my head against a wall.  I still skimmed some of the middle sections, because they're so awkward, but the book as a whole is still awesome, and the adaptation is very faithful.  Also Rupert Graves.

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