Sunday, June 9, 2019

Reading Summary for May 2019

As I look at the books I read in May, I am surprised to find that out of ten books, only four of them were crime fiction novels. Another one was mystery reference, and most of the stories in Patti Abbott's Monkey Justice fall in the realm of crime fiction and noir.

In addition to books related to crime fiction, I read one non-fiction book about books provided to US soldiers during World War II, a wonderful book about Canadian books by Brian Busby, and two post-apocalyptic novels.

It was a very good month of reading.

Mystery reference

Euro Noir: The Pocket Essential Guide to European Crime Fiction, Film & TV (2014)
by Barry Forshaw
The book covers crime fiction books written by European authors, set in their own countries (in most cases). Most of the coverage is for current fiction. There are two longer chapters on Italy and France. Other countries included are Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, and Romania. Although Scandinavian crime fiction has been covered in depth in two other books by the author, there is a chapter on those countries regarding more recent fiction from that area. Films and TV for each area are also noted. No book of this type will satisfy every reader, but since I enjoy reading any kind of book on mystery reference, it suited me.

Nonfiction / History

When Books Went to War (2014) by Molly Guptill Manning
This book is perfect for someone like me who likes to read about World War II and likes to read about books. The emphasis was on the process of getting the books to the soldiers and about the positive effect the books had on the soldiers, but there were interesting facts about many of the books also. I was very surprised at the types of books that got a lot of attention from the soldiers.

Nonfiction / Books about Books

The Dusty Bookcase: A Journey Through Canada's Forgotten, Neglected, and Suppressed Writing (2017) by Brian Busby
The subtitle gives a pretty good summary of this book. Brian Busby blogs on this same topic at The Dusty Bookcase, and the book gathers information from his posts over the years. I read this book straight through, over a few weeks, and I will dip into it again and again. Full of interesting tidbits and in-depth information, and very entertaining.

Post-apocalyptic Fiction

On the Beach (1957) by Nevil Shute
A post-apocalyptic novel that I enjoyed immensely. Also adapted in a film starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, and Anthony Perkins. See my thoughts here.

The Wolves of Winter (2018) by Tyrell Johnson
I found this book via Judith's blog, Reader in the Wilderness. I do like post-apocalyptic novels, and the setting was intriguing... the Canadian Yukon. The story focuses on a family group that has been in the Yukon for seven years. The protagonist and narrator is a young woman who was 16 when they moved up to that area. This was the author's debut novel, and I liked it a lot. I would definitely try another book by this author.

Crime Fiction

Spook Street (2017) by Mick Herron
This is the fourth book in the Slough House series about spies who have been demoted due to some disgrace or screw up in their jobs. I loved this book and I will be reading the next in the series, London Rules, sometime in June.

The Iron Gates (1945) by Margaret Millar
Margaret Millar's novels focus on the psychological aspects of crime, and have interesting but strange characters. This one is set in Toronto and features Inspector Sands. See my thoughts here.

A Private Venus (1966) by Giorgio Scerbanenco
This is such an interesting story but hard to describe. The protagonist is a medical doctor, Duca Lamberti, who was imprisoned for several years, and can no longer practice medicine. His first job after release from prison is to guard the son of a wealthy man and cure him of his disease, alcoholism. He soon discovers that his drinking problem is caused by a traumatic event in his recent past; Lamberti begins to look into that problem.

The Dogs of Riga (1992) by Henning Mankell
I read the first book in the Kurt Wallander series in 2011. I hope it doesn't take me another 8 years to get to the third book, The White Lioness. In this book, Wallander goes to Latvia to follow up on an investigation that started in Sweden, when two dead Latvian men washed up on the shore in a raft. I enjoyed the story and I liked reading about Sweden and Latvia in 1991.

Monkey Justice (2019) by Patricia Abbott
Monkey Justice was published earlier (2011) in e-book format by Snubnose Press. Now Down and Out Press has published the stories again in a new e-book and in trade paperback.  The book has 23 of Abbott's earlier stories; many fit within the crime fiction genre and most of them are on the dark side. I am glad to see more of Abbott's stories available in book form (again).


Nan said...

I read the first two in the Wallander series and got stalled on TWL. And never went on from there. I got Slow Horses by Herron for my husband, but neither of us has read it yet. I love the premise. I wonder if soldiers are ever sent books anymore. They probably have smart phones and just read from them.

Anonymous said...

You changed my mind about Mick Herron. I remember trying to read one of the first books, Slow Horses and felt it was boring. Mankell is still waiting to be read. I have four of his to get me started. I know he was wildly popular writer. I hope to get to his books someday. --Keishon

Cath said...

I shall be investigating When Books Went to War and The Wolves of Winter, both sound like my kind of thing. You had a good, varied reading month Tracy!

Margot Kinberg said...

You did have a great reading month, Tracy. And I'm so glad that you thought A Private Venus was an interesting 'worth it' read. I thought the same thing about it, actually. And I could see how Scerbanenco is as highly regarded as he is. And with a Barry Forshaw book, too, you can't go wrong...

Rick Robinson said...

Lots of good stuff, but WHEN BOOKS WENT TO WAR is the one that most caught my eye as one I'd like to read. I'll go looking for it. .... Got it, the library has it.

Rick Robinson said...

Oh, and I'm still working on the Abbott, I want those dark stories a little at a time.

Christophe said...

I just added "A Private Venus" to my TBR. Endorsements by both you and Margot, and the setting and period, make this an appealing noir title! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

TracyK said...

I was surprised how much I liked this second book in the Wallander series, Nan. I think I was influenced by watching the TV series with Kenneth Branagh, which I enjoyed but was serious and moody. The book was much more interesting. Good question about current soldiers and books.

TracyK said...

I have gotten hooked on the characters in Mick Herron's series, Keishon. I think they are kind of slow at times but less so in the latest book. I would like to know what you think of Mankell's books when you get to them.

TracyK said...

I think you would like both of them, Cath. Especially When Books Went to War. Of course it is from the US viewpoint but it thrilled me to see so much effort put into providing books for soldiers. And the logistical problems involved were interesting.

TracyK said...

I am sure it was your blog where I first heard about A Private Venus, Margot. It took me awhile to get around to reading it, but I am glad I did.

TracyK said...

I am glad you found a copy of When Books Went to War, Rick. I am sure you will enjoy it.

TracyK said...

I agree, Rick, that is why it took me a while to finish Monkey Justice. Each story is thought-provoking.

TracyK said...

I think Private Venus is a very worthwhile read, Christophe. I will be looking for more in the series.

col2910 said...

You had a better month than me Tracy. My reading stalled. Millar and Herron the standouts for me, though I ought to try Mankell again. It must be a decade since I read him.

TracyK said...

I do like Herron's books, Col. I still have a few more to read. I always have difficulty reviewing spy fiction though. Millar is a wonderful writer and I want to read all of them. Too many good authors, I cannot keep up.

Clothes In Books said...

I too am intrigued by the books going to war - I will definitely have to try to read that one: as with you, the subject matter is irresistible.

TracyK said...

When Books Went to War was very readable, Moira, although some chapters were less interesting than others. I knew that there were wartime editions but not that there were so many. Very interesting.