Sunday, February 6, 2022

Reading Summary for January 2022


This month I read a strange (for me) assortment of books. A total of six books, and only two of them were crime fiction. The crime fiction novels and short stories I read were all published before 1960, although the stories by Georges Simenon were collected in book format years later.

Nonfiction, Books about Books

More Book Lust (2005) by Nancy Pearl

This book is part of Nancy Pearl's Book Lust series, which includes Book Lust, More Book Lust and Book Lust to Go. I have read all three of these more than once, and I believe this was my third time to read More Book Lust. The book is divided into various topics. Many of the topics include mystery and crime fiction suggestions, which I appreciate.

General Fiction

The Dining Car (2016) by Eric Peterson

This book follows three people who travel around the country on a train, in a luxurious private railroad car. Horace Button is a food writer and social critic who writes for Sunshine Trails, a magazine that he and a friend founded many years before. He eats and drinks a lot, and smokes cigars, and is often very obnoxious and opinionated. Jack Marshall is a former football star who was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, and needs a job badly. Horace hires him as the bartender for the railroad car. Wanda is the chef, with her own set of problems and prejudices. They have just settled into their new working arrangements when two events threaten their way of life. First, a group of people try to take over the magazine and ease Horace out. Then, Horace's sister, a famous Senator, is killed by terrorists. I enjoyed reading this book. Not a mystery, and I can't remember why I was interested in it, other than it is set on a train, and about a man travelling around in a vintage private railroad car. 

Olive Kitteridge (2008) by Elizabeth Strout

This book is a novel told in short stories. Olive Kitteridge is the focus for many of the stories, but the stories are told from varying viewpoints. Most of the book is about Olive's later years, after she and her husband retire, but the stories look back to her earlier years also. My review here.

Fantasy, Time Travel

Before the Coffee Gets Cold (2015) by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

This book is about a tiny café in Tokyo where visitors are able to travel back in time for a short time, under specific conditions. I loved this book, but I like time travel stories of any type. My review here.

Crime Fiction

Last Seen Wearing (1952) by Hillary Waugh

This book is one of the first true police procedurals, and in the last two decades, I have considered police procedural novels my favorite subgenre of crime fiction. I was happy to see it reprinted as a part of the Library of Congress Crime Classics series. The introduction by Leslie Klinger is very good, with an excellent overview of the first police procedurals. There is also an "About the Author" section that is very useful and a list of recommended further reading related to this book. Full review soon.

Maigret's Christmas (1976) by Georges Simenon

Translated from the French by Jean Stewart

In the last year I have started reading novels and stories by Georges Simenon again. This one was a great addition to my shelves. Some of the stories have a Christmas theme, others are not related to Christmas at all. All of the stories in this book were originally published between 1947 and 1951.

In November, December and January, I talked about some of the stories from Maigret's Christmas: 

The title short story, "Maigret's Christmas."

Another Christmas story, "Seven Small Crosses in a Notebook."

The remaining short stories in the book, including "The Man in the Street."

My husband took both of the photos in this post on the grounds of Stow House in Santa Barbara County. Click on the images for best viewing quality.


Christophe said...

Great pictures! I look forward to your thoughts on “Last Seen Wearing.” Finally, happy to see someone else enjoying Simenon/Maigret.

Margot Kinberg said...

You really did have some varied reading, Tracy! I'm glad you mentioned the Waugh, too. Like Christophe, I'm interested in your thoughts on that one. And Simenon is one of the classics of crime fiction, so I'm glad you've been reading his work.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Christophe. It is too bad I put off reading more Maigret stories for so many years. I am enjoying them very much.

TracyK said...

Margot, now that I have read Last Seen Wearing, I want to find more by Hillary Waugh. I don't know how hard it will be to find copies.

I have a few books by Simenon on my shelves, and I will be keeping an eye out for more of them.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have never been to Santa Barbara. I am most familiar with the San Diego area. It looks very pretty. A new used bookstore near me has many Simenons and I have to remind myself I am getting rid of books not buying them when I go in there.

Cath said...

Rather interested in the Book Lust series which I don't think I've heard of before.

Beautiful tree photos!

Sam said...

What great old trees those are. I love to see what trees mature into when left on their own to get to it rather than having someone tame them every year or so.

I have those "Book Lust" titles around somewhere myself, and I've used them several times to point me in a new reading direction. Now I'm wondering where I've put them.

Happy February reading!

TracyK said...

Patti, I have only been to San Diego once, in the early 1970s when I first arrived in California (and lived in Riverside). Santa Barbara has some beautiful areas for sure.

I envy you a good used book store nearby and all those Simenon books there. We haven't been to downtown Santa Barbara hardly at all since Covid started, but we should go check out the used bookstore there sometime soon. And there is one on the Mesa that I had forgotten about, very tiny, but owned by an old friend of ours.

TracyK said...

Sam, you are right, it is the areas where the trees get really large that are gorgeous. Rocky Nook Park, near the area of Santa Barbara County we lived in when we first moved there, is like that. And of course the Botanic Gardens.

I saw on your blog that that you had enjoyed the Book Lust series. And I read your review of Book Lust to Go. That one is also very good. I have also been checking out your post on "Who Doesn't Love Books on Books?". Lots of good books there, and many I haven't read yet.

TracyK said...

Cath, I hope you can find a book in the Book Lust series, they are well worth reading. Book Lust and More Book Lust are similar (but not at all repetitive), she just came back and covered areas she had missed in the first book. Book Lust to Go has tons of great suggestions for books set in or about different areas all over the world.

I am glad you enjoyed the tree photos.

CLM said...

I like the pictures - the trees are majestic yet also soothing, if that is possible.

A varied month, indeed!

I am trying to think of good time travel mysteries but I must be tired - I just can’t. Charlotte Sometimes might qualify and is also one of my favorites.

TracyK said...

Constance, one time travel book you recommended to me (I think) is A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley. Charlotte Sometimes also sounds good. If you think of any others, just let me know.

You are right, that the huge trees can be very soothing.