March Reading Thread

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I read Smallbone, Deceased by Michael Gilbert, which apparently is a classic murder mystery from 1950. It was set in a solicitors' office, which was interesting as I'm a lawyer. It was quite amusing at points but slightly smug in tone, and the ending - while working as a mystery - was disappointing. It was quite sexist in a casual way, without the hatred that seems common these days.

I'm also reading Lost Souls by Noah Chinn, which so far is a solid, enjoyable space opera. However, I'm reading it off a screen, which I find much harder than reading pages, so I'm making slower progress than I'd like.
In the past week I have read 2 Shakespeare plays: Measure for Measure & All's Well That Ends Well.
... and a science book about fungi that I enjoyed and learned new things from: Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake.
I am about to start True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee (2021) by Abraham Riesman, a biography of the comics guru. It's the first of a few books about people bought for me by my intellectual better half, knowing my nerdy interests. The others are about Ray Harryhausen., the master of stop-motion animation; Kurt Gödel, the great mathematician best known for his Incompleteness Theorem; and Cassandra "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" Peterson, the horror host.
Just finished Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Don Quixote is rather amusing, sometimes silly. The different ways different people treat him says something about humanity. But his squire, Sancho Panza, is priceless! The novel is probably best read in little pieces - 7 chapters a week or something like that - because too much silliness in one go can drive a reader bonkers. The book did tend to drag in the middle. None-the-less, still an entertaining reading experience.

Note: I read the Vintage Classic European Series version translated by Edith Grossman, which flows smoothly and has conveniently placed and extremely helpful footnotes explaining obscure references and humour or when something just didn't translate well into English.
I'm reading If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland, which was a gift from my uncle who is a self-published mystery writer.

Ms. Ueland's approach to writing could be viewed as the antithesis of NANOWRIMO; she values observation, contemplation, and idleness above productivity. My favorite quote so far, on the importance of being idle:

"For what we write today slipped into our souls some other day when we were alone and doing nothing."

I want to whole-heartedly recommend this book, because she has so much good to say about the potential in all of us, and because I really do like her writing style. And yet, it is definitely a work of its era (1938). I personally enjoy earnest conversational tone of mid-twentieth century essays; they are refreshingly different from modern writing. However, with that comes a dose of exoticism and an assumption that the reader share the author's Anglo-Saxon (her term) upbringing.
I finally got a chance to read Treacle Walker, and finished it this afternoon. I caught many of the alchemical, folkloric, and other references (I thought calling the steam train a bonacon was hilarious), but I feel that I need to ponder it for a while before I decide what I really think of it.
Read The Drowned Woods by Emily-Lloyd Jones. It's a YA fantasy advertised as a Welsh Atlantis story. A bit bland. The beginning and end were good, the middle dragged. The characters were mostly one dimensional. And we already know how the story ends, so no particular suspense or surprises. My favourite character was the Corgi and I'm not an ankle-biter fan. Her previous book with the zombie goat was much better - or maybe novels improve with the addition of zombie goats?
R. CRUMB Biography. 2021
Tau Zero ,Poul Anderson 1970
BLACK WIDOW comic book 2014.
Tahir Shah "In Arabian Nights"
On the surface this is a pleasant enough "autobiographical" account of the writer's life in Morocco, his growing understanding of the culture, and his quest for "the story inside him, locked in his heart"
...the retired surgeon said: "The Berbers believe that when people are born, they are born with a story inside them, locked in their heart. It looks after them, protects them. Their task is to search for their story, to look for it in everything they do.....Some people find their story right away. Others search their entire lives and never find it."
The trouble is, unless they're done really well, these supposedly "autobiographical" accounts don't really ring true, and I can feel a tad irritated.
That said, it's an easy read and in time I'll probably read the previous volume detailing his account of first moving to Morocco. One subplot for me is that he's the son of a famously charismatic trickster (perhaps that's a little unfair) who introduced the idea to the West that traditional stories often contain an inner "teaching" that has the potential to open your eyes, and the author shares his father's love of these stories.
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