Sunday, April 7, 2019

Reading Summary March 2019

I read thirteen books this month, including three graphic novels, one science fiction novel, one non-fiction book, and eight crime fiction novels.

Science Fiction

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979) by Douglas Adams
Most people will have heard of this book and its author, even if they haven't read the book. Arthur Dent is protesting the demolition of his house to make way for a bypass. Coincidentally, Arthur's friend, Ford Prefect, is an alien who has learned that the earth is about to be destroyed to make way for a galactic freeway. They are picked up by a giant spaceship from a different galaxy and their adventures begin. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy started out as a radio series,  broadcast by the BBC, and later became a novel. It has also been adapted as a TV series and a 2005 movie starring Martin Freeman. The book was a fun read. It is clearly science fiction, but not serious at all.


The Minimalist Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life (2018) by Joshua Becker
This is similar to the KonMari Method, but the two systems take different approaches. Marie Kondo suggests a different order to eliminating things, going by types of objects and emphasizes doing it all at once. Joshua Becker goes from room to room, and expects the process to take a while. Both are motivational if you want to make some progress in this area, but I can probably accept Becker's approach more easily. The major flaw in this book is repetition, but I see this in most self-help literature.

Understanding Comics (1994) by Scott McCloud
This is a comic about comics. I have read comics all my life, but I do have problems comprehending some contemporary graphic novels and I thought this might help. I did find some of it very useful for me, all of it informative and enlightening, and McCloud's enthusiasm for the subject makes it very interesting.

Graphic novels

The Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite  (2008) and
The Umbrella Academy: Dallas (2009)
by Gerard Way (Writer),  Gabrielle Bá (Artist)
I bought these two graphic novels before I heard about the adaptation of The Umbrella Academy on Netflix. The story is about a dysfunctional family of adopted children, all born at the same time (in different locations all over the world) to mothers who showed no signs of pregnancy.  The adoptive father, Reginald Hargreeves, takes the children to the Umbrella Academy and trains them to be superheroes. 

Crime Fiction

The Tears of Autumn (1974) by Charles McCarry
This is a spy fiction novel by Charles McCarry, the second book in the Paul Christopher series. McCarry is one of my favorite authors and I have read most of his books. 
See review here.

Extraordinary People (2006) by Peter May
The Enzo Macleod Investigation series, Book #1. I have read several books by Peter May, and I learn a lot from each of his books. He often includes information about the setting and its history in the stories, and that is true in this case. Macleod, half-Scottish and half-Italian, is a forensics expert and a university professor in Toulouse, France. In this book, Macleod spends a good bit of time looking for clues in the catacombs under Paris.
Turncoat (2002) by Aaron Elkins
It is very difficult to describe this book in one sentence, so I will just send you to my review if you want to know more. The story, the premise, and the writing grabbed me immediately. The story begins in November 1963 in New York but soon moves to France, where the narrator, a professor of history, is trying to locate his wife, who has disappeared. 

Remembered Death (1944) by Agatha Christie
This non-series book by Agatha Christie was published in the UK as Sparkling Cyanide. Beautiful Rosemary Barton dies from drinking cyanide-laced champagne at her own birthday party while celebrating at a nightclub in London and the police assume that her death was suicide. My review here.

Smoke Detector  (1984) by Eric Wright
Smoke Detector is the 2nd Charlie Salter mystery, set in Toronto, Ontario. Salter is a member of the Metropolitan Police. In this story, he is assigned to an arson / homicide case. My review here.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987)
by Douglas Adams
This book is almost as hard to describe as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It is a bit less weird, it is set in the UK, and many strange things do happen. It is a mish-mash of science fiction and fantasy and a detective story. I enjoyed it but it took a while before I had any sense of where it was going.

The Silkworm (2014) by Robert Galbraith (AKA J.K. Rowling)
The second book in the  Cormoran Strike series. Strike is an ex-Army private detective, and his young secretary Robin wants to learn to be an investigator also. This book focuses on the publishing industry. A woman asks Strike's help in finding her husband, an author who has been missing for several days. There is a lot to like about this series and the main characters.

What Never Happens (2014) by Anne Holt
This is the second book in the Adam Stubo and Johanne Vik series. The setting is Oslo, Norway. My main attraction to this series is the two main characters. Adam is an inspector in the Criminal Investigation Service and Johanne has worked with the FBI as a profiler. See my review here.


Margot Kinberg said...

Oh, Tracy, I am so glad you read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy! I have to admit I loved that book. So much wit, and really good commentary (in my opinion) on life. This is just my opinion, but I think this is the best of the series.

Clothes In Books said...

Always impressed by the wide range of your reading Tracy, and what a good job you do describing the books.

Cath said...

I've seen the TV series and the movie but never actually read Hitchiker's Guide which, given how much sci-fi I used to read, is rather odd. I have read Extraordinary People and liked it a lot. The 2nd book was even better... I must read on at some stage. March was a very good reading month for you!

TracyK said...

Hitchhiker's Guide is a book that deserves re-reading now and then, Margot. I think I had read it before but then I could be remembering parts of the TV series or the more recent movies.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Moira. It is amazing how fast the details of a book go out of my head after reading it. And I find myself wanting to read a variety of books, but never enough time for all of them.

TracyK said...

Cath: My son is now and has been for years a big Douglas Adams fan and especially, Hitchhiker's Guide, in all formats. So I have easy access to the books.

I am looking forward to reading the 2nd Enzo Macleod book although I have one of the Lewis books to read AND the 2nd Yan and Campbell book to read.

pattinase (abbott) said...

What a nice variety. I have read some Elkins and May and of course Agatha.

Nan said...

I am so impressed at how much you read! I've just bought Sparkling Cyanide ( I like this name better!) for my Kindle. I've read a lot of her work, but not this one. Thanks so much.

TracyK said...

I like May's books, Patti, and will continue reading them, but for some reason I don't get emotionally involved in them. And I am now motivated to read more of Elkin's books. It has been a while.

TracyK said...

I think I read too fast, Nan, and miss some things in some books. I try to slow down and savor them but it doesn't always work.

I like the title Sparkling Cyanide better too, and it is certainly more memorable.

col2910 said...

Sounds like a cracking month, Tracy. More than me anyway! There's a few there I would like to try.

TracyK said...

It is a rare month when I read more books than you, Col. Two were graphic novels which were shorter and quicker. But I read those two or three times to take in the story.