Monday, February 1, 2021

January 2021 Reading Summary

January was a very good reading month. Out of the eight books I completed, all were fiction; two were historical fiction, and the rest were crime fiction. Six of the books were read at this time because I wanted to watch the film or TV adaptations. I read my first book for the Japanese Literature challenge. 

The settings were varied. One book was set in Japan, one in the US, two books set in Canada, one set in the Mediterranean and mostly at sea, and three books set in the UK. 

These are the books I read in January.

Historical Fiction

Black Robe
(1985) by Brian Moore

This book is set in the 1600s in what is now Canada. It was called New France at the time. Some members of the Algonkin tribe have contracted to take Father Laforgue and his companion Daniel (a younger French man) to another part of New France to work with a Huron tribe. The story is interesting but full of violence.  See my thoughts here.

Master and Commander (1970) by Patrick O'Brian

This is book 1 in the Aubrey & Maturin historical fiction series, following the adventures of Jack Aubrey of the Royal Navy and Stephen Maturin, physician. I enjoyed the story and I am eager to continue reading the series. See my thoughts here.

Crime Fiction

How the Light Gets In (2013) by Louise Penny

I read this book right after finishing The Beautiful Mystery, because the stories are linked, in a way. This book was a very good read, with a fast pace and thrilling action. My thoughts on both books are here.

The Hollow (1946) by Agatha Christie

This was another month when I read three books in the Hercule Poirot series. This one now ranks as one of my  favorite books in that series. See my thoughts here.

Taken at the Flood (1948) by Agatha Christie

The second Poirot book I read this month. Also written in the 1940s, this is an excellent post-war novel, with many of the characters suffering in some way from the effects of World War II. 

After the Funeral (1953) by Agatha Christie

I started out planning to read all the Poirot books in order of publication, but over time I ended up jumping around. I am getting close to the end of the Poirot books, I have only nine left in the series that I plan to read. This one was not a favorite, and I had some issues with the plot, but it was fun to read as always. We watched the adaptation starring David Suchet as Poirot only a couple of days after I read the book.

Under the Midnight Sun (1999) by Keigo Higashino

Translated by Alexander O. Smith with Joseph Reeder

I  read this book for the Japanese Literature Challenge. This book starts out as a police procedural, then turns into something else. Detective Sasagaki is investigating the death of a man in an empty building. After the investigation stalls, the story follows the main suspect's daughter, Yukiho, as she grows up, goes to university, and gets married. Also Ryo, the son of the murdered man. See my thoughts here.

In a Lonely Place (1947) by Dorothy B. Hughes

Another post-war mystery novel, but this one is noir, much different than the one by Agatha Christie. Dix Steele is in L.A., living off money from his grandfather for a year while he writes a book, staying in an old college friend's apartment while he is out of the country. There have been a spate of women who have died by strangling in the Santa Monica area recently, and Dix's ex-pilot buddy is a police detective investigating the cases. A beautifully written book which gets very creepy. This novel was published in the Library of America volume titled Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1940s.


pattinase (abbott) said...

You do have to see the film version of In A Lonely Place, which is very different than the novel but (to me) equally good.

TracyK said...

Patti, we just recently discovered that the film was available on Prime, which pushed me to read the book. I am glad I finally read it and we will be watching it soon.

Margot Kinberg said...

You did indeed have a good reading month, Tracy. I'm glad for you. I think you were right to read the two Louise Penny novels right in sequence; they're both more meaningful that way. And any month that has two Christies in it is a good one, if you ask me. Funny how most people will admit that some of her novels aren't as strong as others. And yet, we forgive her that, and she remains one of the top-selling authors out there.

TracyK said...

Margot, I have been reading Hercule Poirot books more frequently for a few months, and not getting tired of them at all. Only problem is, many of them don't have Hastings as narrator, and I miss him.

Rick Robinson said...

A very good reading month, indeed! I envy you the Christie reading, I continue to want to read her, but then something seems to get in the way. That Hughes is discomforting, isn’t it?

For various reasons, some of which you know, such as illness and hospitalization, I read very little since mid December, and in January I finished just one book. One! That’s the least in a month in 50 years! I did finish one yesterday, a mystery, and will start something (so many choices!) today, but right now the sun is out and I’m just sitting in the sun with the cat. It rained last night, more coming, so...

I thought I had a paperback copy of MR. MIDSHIPMAN HORNBLOWER I was going to send, but now can’t find it. Sigh.

TracyK said...

I am having a good time reading Christie's books, Rick. And Yes, the Hughes book was tense and not an easy read.

That sounds relaxing, sitting in the sun with the cat. I wish we were getting more rain. I think Los Angeles will but not our immediate area. I am sure you will get back to reading more as your health gets better.

I appreciate you looking for a copy of MR. MIDSHIPMAN HORNBLOWER for me. That was very thoughtful of you.

Cath said...

Terrific month's reading, Tracy. Haven't read any Christie in a little while so must get to it. Also determined to get hold of Master and Commander.

TracyK said...

Cath, I thought I might get tired of reading Christie so much, or reading only Hercule Poirot novels, but I have enjoyed it. Each one is a bit different. The last one I read, Appointment with Death, was set in Jerusalem and Jordan and that was a nice change.

I have the 2nd in the Aubrey / Maturin series coming in the mail. I don't know if I will read it this month or wait a month or two.

Cath said...

I decided not to wait for the libraries to reopen and have popped Master and Commander onto my Kindle. (I hate to think how much I've spent on books this month but hey-ho.) And I sympathise with your not being able to decide whether to read book 2 this month or wait a month or two. I have a similar dilemma with a Maisie Dobbs book - just read book 9 which has many issues... some left undealt with and which are addressed in book 10, which I have. Do I read it straight away or leave it a month or two by wich time I will have forgotten all the nuances to do with the issues? The problems us readers have...

Susan said...

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN is my favorite Gamache book so far. They're all good, but there are definitely some that move me more than others. I'm glad you're enjoying the series!

TracyK said...

Susan, I am definitely enjoying the Gamache series. I don't have a copy of the next one yet, but that is OK because I need to ration them out or I will run out.

TracyK said...

Cath, sorry I lost track of your second comment here. I have been doing that kind of thing a lot lately.

I think Master and Commander would be good to read on Kindle because you can look up terms easily if you have the wifi on. I have considered that for myself.

Luckily any of the Aubrey / Maturin books will count for the Historical Fiction challenge, so I won't even be diverting from my challenges if I read several of them this year. Of course, I am not going to let challenges rule my reading anyway.

I wish I could get back into the Maisie Dobbs series but I have so much else to read, I should not worry about it. Maybe someday.

Cath said...

No problem at all, so easy to lose track of blog comments I find.

Well, I may have been unable to resist temptation and have already started M&C. It's so good and something I didn't notice before - it may not have been in the book I first tried to read - is the illustration of a sailing ship at the beginning with all the names of the sails written in. And yes, of course, it will do for my Historical challenge too, that only dawned on me last night.

As to Maisie Dobbs, it took me about 10 years to get back to it, it's not going anywhere. And if you don't get back to it at all it's not the end of the world. You just can't read everything.

Mary R. said...

Sounds like a good month of reading! I am intrigued by the idea of reading Poirot in order.

TracyK said...

Mary, I started out readed Poirot (and the other Agatha Christie series) in order to notice changes in style or in the characters, but I ran into problems when I did not have a book and did not want to find a copy or when I wanted to jump ahead for some reason. Having read a good number of the Poirot books, for that series I think the best reason is to see the progression from the 1920s into the following decades. But in the end, except for the setting in time, I don't think they changed a lot. But it is still an interesting approach.

col2910 said...

Nice reading start to a new year, Tracy. I think I read the Hughes books years ago. Nothing else where we cross paths.

TracyK said...

It was a good reading month, Col. I have already read 8 books in February and am about to start a 600 page nonfiction book on civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 (Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama).