September Reading

As ever, a list of the books I read last month.

 

Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier, Team Human: I wrote about this here. I’m not sure you can read Team Human outside the context of the debates within which it situates itself, and I’m not sure if that is a flaw. Within said context, it’s smart and engaging, and I enjoyed it.

Simon Armitage, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: One of the methods I employed to put off reading Boneland (see below) was to read things that seemed likely to be connected in some way to it. As Armitage explains in the introduction, he chose to focus on preserving the alliterative quality of the poem rather than a more literal translation. As a result, his version is a pleasure to read out loud – even when I was in places where this would have been alarming I was mouthing the words as I read them.

Alan Garner, The Stone Book Quartet, Red Shift, and Boneland: My continued project to procrastinate over reading Boneland – I reread The Stone Book Quartet and Red Shift instead. I wrote about Red Shift here, and at some point in the unspecified future I’d like to think through the failed relationships in this book and in The Owl Service. I was unprepared for how much more The Stone Book Quartet affected me this time than on my first read some years ago. As for Boneland, I’m rereading and trying to write about it, but. Imagine being as good at what you do as Alan Garner. I can’t imagine anything is going to be better than it this year.

Janice Pariat, Boats on Land: One of the more widely anticipated books to come out of Indian publishing this year. This is a collection of short stories, most of them set in and around Shillong. My review should be out this weekend; on the whole, I really enjoyed this.

Elsie J. Oxenham, The Abbey Girls Win Through – Rosamund’s Castle (books 17-27 in the Abbey Girls series): These were published over the decade immediately preceding the Second World War. I’ve read most of the Abbey books in the past – though I’m not a huge fan, I’m terribly susceptible to long series – but I’m working on a longer piece that made me curious as to how they deal with the war. They don’t, much. Perhaps the later books in the series (the last was published in 1959) might be of more help.

Anushka Ravishankar, Moin and the Monster and Moin the Monster Songster: Anushka’s a former colleague and she and my ex-boss Sayoni Basu have just started their own publishing company for children’s and YA fiction, called Duckbill. Anushka is also a well-known children’s author, and one of the books Duckbill are publishing is a reissue of her 2006 book Moin and the Monster along with a new sequel. I avoid reviewing people I know personally (though please know that these books are great fun) but I’ve interviewed Anushka for the Duckbill blog, and that ought to be up on their website soon. We are very erudite.

Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon, Pride of Baghdad: Reviewed here. I was disappointed in this; a bit too simplistic, some dodgy politics, and rape-as-character-development, all of which severely undermined the effect of Henrichon’s excellent art.

H. P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness: A work-related reread, and a welcome one. I’d forgotten how frequently Lovecraft compared the scenery to Roerich’s art – I tend to think of him as being all about the monsters. I’d also forgotten how much I also love Roerich’s Asian paintings.

Francis Spufford, I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination: Work-related again. Spufford is wonderful and this is such a lovely, intelligent book.

Nicholas Blake, The Worm of Death and The Case of the Abominable Snowman: Both very enjoyable, but not the best of the Strangeways books I’d read.

A pygmy goat

E. Lockhart, The Ruby Oliver series: About halfway through the month I turned into a teenaged girl. This is really the only explanation I can offer; that, and the fact that these books are adorable and funny and also pygmy goats.

 

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