Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Sunday Salon - this week's books

I was away from the Salon last Sunday, but I did lots of reading - although it wasn't my usual choice of book - to my granddaughter, mainly Dora books, which she loves, oh yes and Peppa Pig.

It's been a mixed week for reading. On Tuesday I finished reading C J Sansom's Revelation, a marvellous book, possibly the best in his Shardlake series. I wrote about it here. After that every book I picked up seemed a bit flat and I struggled to come up with another book to read. I'm still reading Eat, Pray,Love. It seems as though I've been reading it for ever as I'm only reading a few pages a day, probably not the best way to read it. So far I have mixed feelings about this book. This morning it made me smile though. Elizabeth Gilbert is now in Bali with Ketut,the elderley medicine man who she hopes will teach her to find God through Balinese meditation. She has spent months in India studying Yoga - intense and heart searching - and now Ketut tells her

" ...Yoga too hard. ... To meditate only you must smile. Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clean away dirty energy."

It took me until Friday to decide that Hilary Mantel's Giving Up the Ghost was the right book for my frame of mind; it's a complete contrast to Revelation. I think that when I've read one book that makes me 'live' in the story I need something completely different, so I've moved from historical mystery to present day memoir. In Hilary Mantel's book she looks back over her life, so different from mine and from Elizabeth Gilbert's too. This is one of the things I like about reading - the access that it gives into other people's lives, thoughts and experiences. Some would say that it's not real life and you should get out and live life rather than read about it. As for me I'd rather read about Hilary Mantel's experiences with her family, school teachers and doctors than live them and I'd much rather read about life in an ashram in India than go there myself, but it's good to know about these things.

I read yesterday that Melvyn Bragg has published a new book - Remember Me .... You can read a review of the book at the Times Online where there is a link to to Melvyn Bragg's talk about Remember Me ... at The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival.

This is the fourth novel about Joe, now grown up, based on Melvyn Bragg's own life. The first three, The Soldier's Return, Son of War and Crossing the Lines, tell the story of Joe from age 6 when his father returns at the end of the Second World War up the time he left home to go to Oxford University. As well as beng good stories these books bring to life what it was like living in the post war period. I'm looking forward to reading Remember Me ... with eager anticipation.

I hope everyone has a good day today - keep smiling!


Table Talk said...

I'm deliberately not reading what you have to say about Shardlake as I'm waiting for it to turn up from the library and I don't want to run the risk of spoiling the read.
I'm interested in what you say about Melvin Bragg's books. I love his work on radio and yet have somehow never thought to read him as a novelist. A couple of week's ago though, I read an interview with him about this latest book and thought how interesting it sounded. Thanks for the link and for the names of the earlier ones. I think I'm going to try the series out.

Kay said...

I'm planning on reading the C. J. Sansom books. I have the first two. Don't think this new one is out here in the US yet. The Hilary Mantel memoir sounds quite interesting and I will make note of it as well. Don't know if Dora will still be "reading of choice" when I have the grandones (my daughter says not for a few years, but you never know), but I do intend to spend lots of time reading to them.

J. Kaye Oldner said...

LOL - My daughter loved Dora when she was younger. We'd sit and read...miss those days. :)

Literary Feline said...

I am not familiar with CJ Sansom's work, but your comments have me very curious.

I have yet to start on Eat, Pray, Love. I have a friend who recently read it who hated it while another loved it. It's always so interesting to hear from the different sides of the spectrum.

I'm with you in that there are just some lives I would rather read about than experience for myself. I think too, you get a more fuller, well rounded picture by sharing in others' experiences through reading. We can't live it all, even if we wanted to.

Have a great week!

BooksPlease said...

Thanks for your comments.

Table Talk, I don't think I wrote any spoilers, but I know what you mean. I don't like to read what someone else has written when I'm just about to read a book myself - I like to come to it 'fresh', without any pre-conceived ideas. I hope you enjoy it when you do read it.

Kay, I read so many books out loud last weekend that I thought my voice would give out - not used to reading aloud anymore.

J Kaye, it's lovely that my grandchildren enjoy books so much. I love reading to them.

Literary Feline, if you like historical fiction with an added crime or two you'll enjoy the Shardlake books.

As for Eat, Pray, Love I can see that people could love or hate it - or indeed be indifferent. At the moment I'm hovering.

I think also that you can get a better understanding of other people through reading, not just memoirs but also fiction.

Danielle said...

I think the best solution when you read something really good, and nothing else compares afterwards is to do as you are doing--read something completely different. Otherwise the other books just don't live up to the comparison! So Dora is as popular over there as she is here? My niece liked her well enough, but her little cousin ADORES Dora!

Les said...

I zipped through Eat, Pray, Love fairly quickly. Unfortunately, it feels like I've been reading The Shadow of the Wind forever! I'm not even halfway in and I'm ready to call it quits. It's for my f2f book club, so we'll see. I hate to not finish, but I also dread spending the next week or so trying to finish.

I thought it was a bit funny that Ketut didn't remember inviting Gilbert to come back to Bali. She is a bit narcissistic, don't you think?

I've read my share of Dora books to both my granddaughter (5 1/2) and two nieces (5 1/2 and 3 1/2). While I love reading to these little ones, I'm quite content to never read anymore Dora books! ;)

BooksPlease said...

Danielle, my granddaughter adores Dora too - Dora on TV, books, toys and clothes!

Les, yes I think you're right, "narcissistic" describes her quite well. I think Eat, Pray, Love is a quick read - it's just that I'm not spending much time on it each time I pick it up. I'll be glad when I've finished it.

It took me a while to read The Shadow of the Wind. I thought started off well but was too long.

I agree about the Dora books.

Alison Boon said...

Remember me seems to be the in title at the moment. I have just read a book with that title by David Hansen, and I recommend it as a great read. But Sophie Kinsella also has a book out called Remember me. That could make a challenge almost.