Monday, July 4, 2022

Books Read in June 2022

In June I read seven books, six of them from my 20 Books of Summer list. I enjoyed all of them, so it has been a good reading month.

And here are the books I read...

General Fiction

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (2017) by Gail Honeyman

I loved this book. Most reviews talked about how funny it was; I found it much more serious. It is about a woman who is socially awkward, in this case as a result of traumatic events in her past. It was set in Glasgow, and I felt that the setting was used very well.

Historical Fiction

The Assault (1982) by Harry Mulisch

This was a great read, brief and straightforward. Set in the Netherlands, it starts with a horrendous event that occurs near the end of World War II in the Netherlands. This novel takes that one event and shows how it affected the people who were involved.  It continues up to 1980. The story is based on a real event that happened during the war. My full review here.


Lincoln in the Bardo (2017) by George Saunders

I am not very comfortable describing this book as fantasy, I think it is more a blend of historical fiction and magical realism. And it is full of supernatural elements. But that is the problem with labeling books and a topic for another day. The story is set in 1862 in the first year of the Civil War in the US. President Lincoln's eleven-year-old son, Willie, has died and Lincoln visits his body at the crypt several times. As I understand it, one definition of the bardo is a transitional stage between death and rebirth. I liked reading the book, but I am sure I missed a lot and much of it mystified me.

Crime Fiction

The Long Goodbye (1953) by Raymond Chandler

We recently purchased a Blu-ray version of The Long Goodbye starring Elliott Gould, and I wanted to read the book before watching the film again (after 20 years). This is one of the best books in the Philip Marlowe series; I liked it nearly as well at The Big Sleep. It is the sixth book in the series and it seemed more aimless than the other three I have read. Marlowe is more cynical and there is more social commentary. All of which I enjoyed. And the writing is beautiful.

Some Die Eloquent (1979) by Catherine Aird

This is the eighth book in Catherine Aird's police procedural series; I enjoyed all the previous books in this series and this was no exception. This one is about a chemistry teacher who has died at 59 of complications from diabetes. The police get involved when they realize she has just come into a lot of money. Of course there are plenty of suspects, mostly family members. (And I love this cover. Look at the colors of those gorgeous flowers.)

A Quiet Life in the Country (2014) by T. E. Kinsey

This is a historical mystery series with a lot of humor. I was attracted by the premise of a lady and her maid solving mysteries, but I was not sure how that would work given the class differences in England in 1908. Lady Hardcastle and her maid Flo are more friends than mistress and servant, and each has skills that complement the other. The early 1900s is a time that I haven't read much about (in fiction or nonfiction). I really like the characters. Cath at Read-warbler recommended this book, and I am so glad I read it. I have already started reading the second book in the series. 

A Pitying of Doves (2015) by Steve Burrows

The second book in the Birder Murder Mystery Series. The protagonist is DCI Domenic Jejeune and the setting is the Norfolk town of Saltmarsh. At this point, DCI Jejeune is still new to the area. He originally came from Canada, then worked in London. He clashes with his immediate superior quite often. So not a lot different from the usual police procedural series except for the emphasis on birding and the beautiful surroundings. I will be continuing this series.

Currently reading

At this point in July I am reading:

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • In the Market for Murder by T. E. Kinsey
  • Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson

None of those are on my 20 Books of Summer list. The Great Gatsby is my Classics Club Spin book.

The photos at the top and bottom of the post are of chalk paintings at the I Modannari Italian Street Painting Festival at the Santa Barbara Mission this year. Click on the images for best viewing quality.


neeru said...

The Long Goodbye is sheer poetry. And your post has reminded me that I need to get on with Catherine Aird having enjoyed the first book.

TracyK said...

I agree, Neeru. Chandler's writing is so good, it would not matter what he was writing about, almost.

I have enjoyed all of Aird's books that I have read, but the first two in the series are especially good, and the third one was more humorous.

Kathy's Corner said...

Lincoln at the Bardo is a book I was thinking about reading but I tend to go for straightforward fiction and magical realism can leave me a bit lost as well. I must try Aird and also Patricia Wentworth.

Kay said...

Eleanor Oliphant is a great character and I loved that book!

Cath said...

Really pleased you liked the first Lady Hardcastle book, Tracy. They are written so tongue-in-cheek and I love them. And I love the cover of that Catherine Aird book too, haven't read anything by her.

pattinase (abbott) said...

A real well-rounded selection. Bravo!

TracyK said...

Kathy, Lincoln in the Bardo is just too weird for me to recommend to anyone, but it gets a lot of good reviews on Goodreads.

I do recommend at least reading one or two books by Patricia Wentworth and Catherine Aird. They write about different time periods, but both are on my list of favorite authors.

TracyK said...

Kay, Eleanor Oliphant surprised me, in a good way. I was looking for a story about a person who doesn't fit in, but it was that and so much more.

TracyK said...

So true, Cath, you can't take the Lady Hardcastle books too seriously, but I enjoy the characters so much.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Patti. I am enjoying mixing in other fiction with my mystery reading. The only thing I have not been reading enough of lately is espionage.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

You made a nice dent in your summer reads pile. I loved Eleanor Oliphant.

TracyK said...

I am happy getting so much read for the 20 Books of Summer list, Diane. Elinor Oliphant was a good surprise for me, and I am glad I bought it on an impulse earlier this year.

Lark said...

Looks like you read some fun books in June! I still need to read Elinor Oliphant. :)

TracyK said...

June was a very good reading month for me, Lark. I think you will like Elinor Oliphant when you get to it.

CLM said...

I also liked Elinor Oliphant and found it heartbreaking rather than funny. I assume I have read that Aird but don't remember it; I do love her style.

I tried to listen to Lincoln in the Bardo on cd but could not get into it; I just don't get or enjoy magical realism or whatever it is.

The Kinsey series sounds good!

TracyK said...

Constance, I think that Lincoln in the Bardo would be harder to listen to than to read, and that was challenging enough. There were good parts to the book, but I guess I like a more straightforward reading experience.

I like the Lady Hardcastle series, very humorous but the mystery aspect is good too.

Judith said...

Hi Tracy,
I really enjoyed this post. I absolutely must read Elinor Oliphant--I'm long overdue for it, considering all the wonderful things I've heard about it.

TracyK said...

Judith, my two top reads in June were Eleanor Oliphant and The Long Goodbye. Eleanor Oliphant is moving and it left me feeling optimistic.

Mary R. said...

Sounds like a very good month! I like the birder series too. I was totally baffled by Lincoln in the Bardo.

TracyK said...

It was a good month, Mary.

I could have counted the birder book for the Canadian Challenge if I had put it off until July, but I forgot he was a Canadian author. But I will be reading more of those anyway.