I fell behind on my book posts, because I kept meaning to draw art to go with them. But here they are (excluding many partial books, some shorter illustrated ones I forgot to write down, and several manuscripts for illustration). Thoughts are abbreviated, but see also my post on Meanjin: What I’m Reading.
Also here is a wolf in a well.
- The Girl in the Mirror — Rose Carlyle
- Making Up — Lucy Parker
- The Austen Playbook — Lucy Parker
- The Quiet Gentleman — Georgette Heyer
- Headliners — Lucy Parker
- A Surfeit of Lampreys — Ngaio Marsh
Thoughts: There were several books in this group with… variably likeable characters from privileged backgrounds, which makes for both odd characters and tricky class intersections. The Carlyle/Heyer/Marsh sequence was a bit of a trip. The Lucy Parker London Celebrity romances continue to be stacks of fun, however. My favourite is The Austen Playbook, for some apparently very small decisions, like having the heroine get cast as Lydia Bennet instead of one of the more obvious roles, and because it makes the author feel like someone you’d like to hang out with.
- Winking at the Brim — Gladys Mitchell
- All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue — Sophie Jordan
- A Good Debutante’s Guide to Ruin — Sophie Jordan
- Greenglass House — Kate Milford
- Bill & Ted Face the Music
- Porco Rosso
Thoughts: I love how Kate Milford writes colour and light, and I keep laughing at something ridiculous Gladys Mitchell in Winking at the Brim. Also, along with The Happiest Season, it has a very minor finely observed sequence about maintaining personal space, which I liked.
Bill & Ted Face the Music was the most delightful way to return to the cinemas post-lockdown (I’m in Queensland), and so very much about what making art isn’t and is. Porco Rosso does such wonderful things with time and learning.
- White Cat — Holly Black
- Red Glove — Holly Black
- Black Heart — Holly Black
- Arsenic for Tea — Robin Stevens
- Tools of Titans — Tim Ferris
- The Organised Writer — Antony Johnston
- The 4-Hour Work Week — Tim Ferris
Thoughts: Holly Black always mixes grim reality and enchantment enviably. Huzzah for Robin Stevens’ Wells & Wong detective society (I’m currently reading First Class Murder to my dad) — I’d love to read more traditional English subgenres from a slightly (or even extremely) outside perspective. One of the enormous frustrations of Michael Innes’ Hamlet, Revenge! is a glancing acknowledgement of how a country house murder must look to someone not-from-England and then ripping that story away from the reader.
I mentioned a bit over on the Meanjin blog about why I was tormenting myself with self-help and business-development books. Also I like to dip into them occasionally because it overlaps with some things I’d been teaching this year. The ones I usually find most useful, personally, were written for other purposes, but I did get a few good points/reminders/reassurances from The Organised Writer in particular (and there’s always something useful) and I rather liked the approach Ferris took in putting together Tools of Titans, which it shares with Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals and Maira Kalman’s My Favourite Things — essentially a collection of things he found interesting and applicable, and which the reader can take or leave.
- Charity Girl — Georgette Heyer
- London’s Last True Scoundrel — Christina Brooke
- The Magic of Thinking Big — David J Schwartz
- The Paradox of Choice — Barry Schwartz
- Angel of the Crows — Katherine Addison
- The Eye of Love — Margery Sharpe
- Baby Done
- The Happiest Season
- Born With Teeth — Liz Duffy Adams, table reading with Emily Carding and Margo MacDonald
Thoughts: GOODNESS I enjoyed The Eye of Love (thanks go to Jenny Clements for that). Gentle and focussed, with characters who would be ridiculous if they did not take themselves and their lives so seriously. The table reading of Liz Duffy Adams was a delight — and really interesting to see a certain shift in acting-for-Zoom from what it had been earlier this year, with so much moving into the head and hands. Also the way specificity (of, for example, job) in Baby Done made the story both smaller and expanded it beyond the superficial.