August reading (2013)

I’m doing very well with my reading challenge this year (to read 50 books). So well, in fact, that I’ve decided to change the challenge, and have now decided to read 60 books instead. I’m currently on target to reach this new number so it shouldn’t be hard!

Anyway, here’s what I read this month.

Notes from Walnut Tree farm – Roger Deakin

I’m a big fan of Roger Deakin – he was a great naturalist and writer.  This book is a collection of his notes, published after his death.  It’s a really interesting read, and has been well-edited.  The notes have been arranged into months of the year, and have been date-stamped where Roger wrote the date next to the notes.  It’s essentially day-to-day observations of life on his smallholding and things he’s been up to, and it’s a wonderful read.  If you like natural history writing and have never read Roger Deakin, you should add him to your reading list immediately!

Three men in a boat – Jerome K. Jerome

I read three fiction books this month – how did that happen?!  I rarely read fiction!  This is the first of the three fiction books I read, although it’s based on a true story so is only half-fiction.  It’s been on my reading list forever, so it was about time I read it.  It’s funny to think that this book was written over a century ago, as some of the jokes are just as relevant now as they were then.  Times haven’t changed much!

The first person is a tad irritating in places, but I think that’s part of the story really – he probably is an annoying character, and really all three of them were as bad as each other in causing problems.  If it’s on your reading list, it’s worth getting round to it, but if it’s not on your list yet I wouldn’t bother adding it as you won’t miss much.  I guess for people who like London or are familiar with it, it might be a fun read as the book tracks the progress of the three men (and the boat) along the Thames, and there are a lot of references to local places.

The Magicians – Lev Grossman

My second fiction book of the month, and possibly my favourite fiction read of the year.  This isn’t a difficult award to win, given that I’ve only read 13 fiction books so far this year, but this book deserves it.  It is an excellent read!  If you love fantasy books, or wizards, or Harry Potter, or Chronicles of Narnia, you will love this book.  READ IT!  After reading it, I was disappointed that this book doesn’t have more of a following.  It is such a good book and it deserves fame and fortune.

The book tells the story of what it would be like to be an actual wizard in the modern world where magic is a hidden talent (in this sense, it’s like Harry Potter, except it’s less “quaint England” and more “edgy New York”).  Our lead character gets accepted into a wizarding school he didn’t know existed instead of going off to college, and he learns magic.  Then he graduates and life sucks because what fun is magic in a world that doesn’t need it or know of its existence?  That’s as much of a synopsis as I’m giving you because I don’t want to spoil the story, but you should definitely read it.  If I gave stars to books I would give it 5/5.

Confessions of an eco-sinner – Fred Pearce

Ahhh, this is a more normal read for me.  A nice eye-opening book about how we’re all screwing up the world and are doomed to fail!  Haha, kidding.  It’s actually a fascinating book, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about their impact on the world.  The author, a journalist, tracks down the origin of all sorts of things in his life, from his wedding ring to his socks.  He meets the people manufacturing the items he purchases, the environments where the raw materials are mined/harvested, and all sort of things in between.  It’s probably the first eco book I would recommend to anyone wanting to learn more about their impact, but ethically and ecologically.

On writing – Stephen king

I’m going to point out before I go any further that I have never read a Stephen King book, and I don’t watch horror films.  I read this book purely because it’s meant to be a good book on writing, and not because I am a Stephen King fan.  However, I did find the autobiographical stuff interesting, most likely because I like reading autobiographies.  If you are a Stephen King fan, this is probably a great book for you!  I quite liked the advice he gave on writing, and if he didn’t write creepy books I would probably enjoy reading his books!  He seems sensible and the book is an enjoyable read.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling

I have started a re-read of the Harry Potter books, partly inspired by my reading of The Magician. The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed I skipped books 1 and 2. This is because I have started a re-read of the Harry Potter series many times before giving up, and so I have read HP1 more times than I care to remember. I didn’t feel there was anything to be gained from reading it again – it feels like I already know it word for word! I skipped HP2 because I personally feel this is the worst of the seven books, and I couldn’t face reading it again! So, I’ve started with HP3, which was a good read. It’s nice to be back among a familiar landscape. People who don’t re-read books are odd! It’s reassuring to read books you already know. It’s like talking to old friends.

Did you read any good books this month?