May short book reviews

Book on towel

13 Questions Problems (my mistake)– Agatha Christie: Deb and I went to Capricorn Resort in Yeppoon for the May long weekend (Rockhampton Airport had piped mooing, which was disturbing – particularly in the bathrooms) and I borrowed this from the activities hut. That’s a sketch of it on the towel above. I’d read it before, although long enough ago that I only had foggy ideas of what the twist was (litmus paper! 100s & 1000s!) but what’s not eminently suitable about reading Miss Marple solving anecdotal murders while sitting by a resort pool? It was also nicely complemented:

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – M. R. James: Deb lent this to me. Beautiful worded, just dusty enough and thrilling in a way that is a lot of fun to read in a hotel room while wintery winds batter at the windows but leaves no ill effects afterwards. Good, short, weirdly disturbing stories which linger but don’t haunt – strangely proportioned rooms, whistles that call up the wind, trees that give an unhealthy air to the breeze through a window… I hadn’t read much horror of this era and it does give Lovecraft a bit more context. I also didn’t realise how economical and precisely worded James’ writing was until I pulled out another book of ghost stories to read to my dad at home and we got bogged in… Kipling I think it was, of all people.

How Language Works – David Crystal: Deb said she read this in two sittings and I don’t know how. It took me weeks, but I won’t rule out the possibility that it was because I feel compelled to sound out all phonetic passages (not recommended on public transport). Phonetics, anatomy, writing systems, language acquisition, sign language, translation, interpretation, language change and loss – a good broad introduction with greatly suppressed dry humour (English is a “vacuum cleaner of a language”). Not as much fun as his Words at Play or the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language, but a good mental exercise.

Status Anxiety – Alain de Botton: Deb also lent this to me after we went to see him speak. My first Botton. I like the way he phrases his thinking, and the way his mind goes, although some of the generalisations & focuses pulled me out of it occasionally. His discussion of the relations between religion and status and love was particularly thought-provoking, but my favourite line is still the somewhat fatalistic, “Everything in any case is fated to disappear and New Zealanders will in time be sketching the ruins of our boulevards and offices.”

… I don’t think any of the books for June have connections to Deb!

5 thoughts on “May short book reviews

    • Oh, yes I have! I think I saw the series once, but I was practically raised on that book (my parents have idiosyncratic ideas on bedtime reading).

  1. Pingback: Best Books of 2009 « Errantry

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