I remember starting to painstakingly assemble a list to apply for admission to a book community that I watched in order to pick up recommendations. And then I thought to myself, “Wait. I’m a scientist. I don’t read or review literary fiction or non-fiction for a living. I read books and watch films for pleasure, and I enjoy the authors I’ve either discovered for myself or found through friends or internet reviews. Do I really need to be judged inadequate and unworthy by a bunch of people who are getting their kicks out of telling others that their tastes are pedestrian and vulgar because they happen to actually like the required reading from their high school English classes? Or because they’ve never heard of that other Bronte sister? Or because they’d rather pick up a romance novel than, say, a famously impenetrable work, probably by a dead white guy? No. No, I don’t think I do.”
Ben Aaronovitch’s Foxglove Summer. PC (and magician) Peter Grant gets sent out of London to go tromping through the wilds of Herefordshire in a smelly 4x4 borrowed from a gay copper’s farmer boyfriend, looking for some missing children. Highly enjoyable, although I’ve already forgotten most of the details. Full of funny little nods to pop culture, including my absolute favourite, in which famous lines from Aliens are transported back to 1939: ”’Nightingale was against it from the start, said we should send in the RAF and bomb the camp from altitude. He said it was the only way to be sure.’ He gave me a puzzled look. ‘Did I say something funny?’”. A+ would read again with pleasure.
Miriam Darlington’s Otter Country. This was a Christmas present from 2013, embarrassingly (see: 2014: the lost year). The title is not deceptive and there are indeed many otters involved. I find myself internally rolling my eyes a lot as I’m reading it, though. I’m enjoying the factual tidbits about otter habits and otter population fluctuation in the UK and otter conservation, but the florid, breathless style of the narrator when she goes on about her otter-finding quest exasperates me.
I’m not sure. Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table was going to be next but I may have temporarily had my fill of flowery poetical styles once I reach the end of Otter Country. I might go back to sci-fi for a bit.
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