Sunday, November 7, 2021

Reading Summary for October 2021

This month I read seven books. Five of them were in the crime fiction genre, although some of those were more suspense than mystery, with the crime in the background. Most of those books were picked specifically for R.I.P. XVI. For that event, I also read a fantasy novel that borders on horror by Ray Bradbury. The last book I read this month was from my Classics Club list.

This month the communal driveway for our condominium has been torn up and inaccessible. The work started on September 20th and was supposed to be finished in no more than 4 weeks. This was what it looked like on October 22nd.

General Fiction

The Moviegoer (1961) by Walker Percy

This was my pick for the Classic Club spin, and I am glad I finally read a book by this author. It is set in the South, in New Orleans.  Binx Bolling is from a rich family, is a veteran of the Korean War, and has been set up as a stock broker by relatives. He likes going to movies, making money, and going out with his secretaries. He also has a lot of existential angst. Family members pressure him to pursue other careers and get more serious about life. This is one of the few books set in the South where I had some recognition of my own feelings and experiences. We were at a much lower socioeconomic level than the characters in this book, though. I was on the fence about this book until the ending, which I loved.

Fantasy / Horror

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962) by Ray Bradbury

A traveling carnival brings evil to a small town in late October. See my review here.

Crime Fiction

The Thirteenth Tale (2006) by Diane Setterfield

If I had to pick a favorite book for this month, this would be it. It grabbed me emotionally and I enjoyed every page. See my review here.

A Little Local Murder (1976) by Robert Barnard

This is a light, humorous satire about the residents of an English village. The ending packs quite a punch. See my review here.

The Quickening (2020) by Rhiannon Ward

Rhiannon Ward is a pseudonym for Sarah Ward, who wrote four British police procedural mysteries previously. Three of those I read and liked a lot. This is a suspense novel with gothic elements, spooky and sort of creepy, not my usual type of reading. It is set in 1925 and highlights how many families lost sons and fathers to World War I. The main character is a female photographer who is documenting the contents of an estate that is in disrepair and being sold. There is an excellent subplot about a séance that took place back in 1896, and its continuing effects on the family, but I did not care for the overall emphasis on spiritualism. 

Skeleton Key (2000) by Jane Haddam

I read this book in October because the story is set at Halloween. It is the 16th book in the Gregor Demarkian series. This was a reread and it was a good choice from the series. See my review here.

Fête Fatale (1985) by Robert Barnard

This book has a lot in common with A Little Local Murder by the same author, which I also read this month. This story is set in a small English village, and many of the characters are quirky and somewhat unlikeable. But, unusual for Barnard's books, the story is narrated by a woman, the wife of the local veterinarian. She claims that the village is run by women and she is unsympathetic to the control they wield and how they use it. Some of the villagers are in a tizzy because a more orthodox vicar is being brought in to take the place of the previous incumbent of that position.

Currently Reading and More

This month I am reading novellas for Novellas in November. I have read four so far and enjoyed all of them.

Currently I am reading Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, a historical novella that starts in 1917 and follows events in a man's life through several decades. Set in Idaho and Washington, mostly.

We still don't have access to the driveway, at least for driving, although now we can walk on it. In this photo, taken yesterday, you can see that the pavers have been installed all the way to the street but entry is still blocked. 

This last photo, also taken yesterday, shows the driveway at our end of the drive. A lot of finishing still needs to be done. Click on the images for best viewing quality.


Cath said...

Wow, that's some serious work being done on your driveway! It's going to look very nice when it's finally finished.

You had a good reading month. I've also read Fete Fatale and thought it was not bad, I liked his writing. The Quickening is on my radar so will get to that at some stage.

TracyK said...

Cath, It does look really good, and I am glad the association decided to go with pavers. But I will be so glad when it is over.

I already had two copies of Fete Fatale buried in boxes somewhere but I found this copy at the book sale and loved the cover. I am happy that I went ahead and read it, it was even better than I expected.

pattinase (abbott) said...

A very good reading month for you. For me, not so much. Maybe soon.

Margot Kinberg said...

I don't envy ypu that construction, Tracy. It sounds as though it's a real pain! I hope it's cone soon. You've had a really interesting reading month. I always like the variety in what you read.

TracyK said...

Patti, I am sorry your reading is not going well. My reading has slowed but I enjoy much of what I read.

TracyK said...

Margot, now the construction is so close to done, and we can finally see a clear path to the street. That is heartening, but I am not sure what the last steps are and how long they take.

I definitely did try some reading in different areas (for me) this month.

Katrina said...

I can see that the driveway is going to look great when it is all finished, so it should be worth all the hassle. I put off having things done just because I can't stand the thought of all the mess. I think it must have been you that led me to Robert Barnard, I now have a few on my library waiting list.

TracyK said...

Katrina, that is a good way to look at it. We are happy about the new driveway, it looks better and should continue to do so for a long time.

We do want to have things done to our condominium, but we put them off because of the inconvenience and having to find a contractor we can trust. Nowadays with the shortage of supplies would not be a good time to start anyway, I suppose.

Re Robert Barnard, I always enjoy his books but they do vary and I enjoy each in different ways. I hope you enjoy the ones that you get from the library.

Rick Robinson said...

Nice. I know I read some Barnard long ago but remember which. I’ve been reading short stories (see Wed. Post), but am going to work in at least one novel, I think. Looks like a couple of weeks more and your driveway will be complete. Yay!

Sam Sattler said...

I'm enjoying your theme reading challenges. As for novellas, I've often wondered how they can possibly be profitable when published as standalones. I used to see them that way more than I do these days where they are more often published as compilations. The reason I say that about being profitable, is that they always seemed to be overpriced on a per-page comparison to a full novel, and I seldom paid the premium price for them. Maybe the bulk of their sales were made to libraries?

I just realized how boring this comment's the decades of accountancy work coming back to haunt me. :-)

Rick Robinson said...

I forgot to say, I read Montalbano’s First Case a couple of years ago, and think of it as a thick short story collection. We’re what I read really novellas?

TracyK said...

Rick, reading short stories is always good. I am sure I will some into my reading in November.

The driveway is looking better and better but no idea how much longer it will take. At least to be able to see it at this stage is encouraging.

col2910 said...

Hopefully your 'works' will be finished soon. We had our road dug up twice in the past year to resolve an issue with old electrical cables that failed several times, causing power outages in the neighbourhood. Very frustrating, but I guess it was worth it as we haven't had any blackouts since.

I think Barnard is the guy I'd like to read most from your choices, as well as revisiting Ray Bradbury's works. I have some from Denis Johnson on the pile as well.

Mary R. said...

I read The Moviegoer almost 30 years ago and loved it. Probably time for a re-read. I am in the middle of A Little Local Murder (I think I saw it on your blog earlier in the month?) and am liking it so far. Good luck with the never-ending construction!

TracyK said...

Rick, The book I read Montalbano’s First Case in was titled Montalbano's First Case and Other Stories. The first is a novella at about 120 pages but the rest are short stories. I hope to read some of the short stories this month.

TracyK said...

Sam, I don't think it is boring at all. A lot of publishing is based on numbers and what people will pay for. My theory is that more novellas are published now that there are ebooks and they can be gotten for less money. However there have always been more novellas (and novelettes) published in the science fiction genre and there are awards for novellas and novelettes in science fiction and fantasy. Maybe more mysteries would be written at that length if there were more awards for them.

The Murderbot novellas had me wondering about that. They are fairly expensive.

TracyK said...

Col, I guess it was good that they dug up your streets if it fixed your problem with blackouts. But I know how frustrating that must have been.

I plan to find some more Denis Johnson to try, although two of the books I know of are pretty long, over 400 pages I think.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Mary, and we do think the work is progressing along, it just took so much longer than expected.

I hope you like the rest of A Little Local Murder. The ending really surprised me, although it shouldn't have.