The next two books I am reviewing are connected by subject matter.
Ernest Hemingway on writing edited by Larry W. Phillips is a compilation of Hemingway’s thoughts about writing. I have not read any of Ernest Hemingway’s books, but he was a famous author living from 1899-1961 who is currently being featured due to the 60th anniversary of his death. (I learned that sadly he took his own life.)
This is not a book for people, who avoid reading bad language, but it is an insight into the way one author thought about and approached his work. The extracts are taken from personal letters and from his works of fiction.
The Girl who reads on the Métro by Christine Féret-Fleury is a delightful story with some sad events, which was quite different from anything I had read before. It is the first book by Christine Féret-Fleury to be translated from French to English. There is mystery and sadness, but as the blurb on BorrowBox indicated it is a book to leave you with a smile on your face.
Like The Librarian by Salley Vickers and Lucy Mangan’s Bookworm, The Girl who reads on the Métro includes a list of titles. Unlike the other two books with lists, there was only one book listed, which I have read: Tess of the D’Urbevilles. There are also questions for book groups. I recommend it to lovers of fiction.
I chose two “How to” books from the Fiction section, having a bit more time to spare than usual when I went to the library. Did the fashion for fiction with titles sounding like non-fiction begin with A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian?
The first book I chose was How to Measure a Cow by Margaret Forster, whose writing I have been enjoying recently. It is set mainly in Cumbria, but partly in the south of England. The characters are well-drawn and the mystery behind the main character is revealed slowly. I found it to be a page-turner.
The second book was How to Stop Time by Matt Haig. It is a fascinating book, well researched and well-written. Although this is definitely a book for adults, it had some similarities in content with a children’s book I read and reviewed – King of Shadows by Susan Cooper. Coincidentally I reviewed that book in the same post as A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (linked above).
Apart from the “How to” in the titles, these two books have a few other similarities. Both explore assumed identities and differences in culture between places in the same country among other things. I recommend them both wholeheartedly.
Perhaps the title of this post should be “What I read from cover to cover in March and April 2018”. I have been struggling with a couple of biographical/autobiographical books. One was tedious, because of the number of direct quotes from the writings of the people in the book, each with a superscript to send the diligent reader to the notes. I found it broke up the text, making it difficult to read. The other had so many references to film and television personalities that I was somewhat lost. I have lived most of my life without watching much television and would far sooner read than watch a film.
As I don’t like making unfavourable remarks about books, I shall not be telling you which books they were.
By contrast I have read three books (coincidentally all in American English) which I enjoyed so much that I have returned to part or all of them.
The first was The Daniel Prayer: The Prayer That Moves Heaven And Changes Nations by Anne Graham Lotz (daughter of the late Billy Graham).
The reasons that I read it were that the Ladies’ Bible Study Group I attend is studying the Book of Daniel and the first email I received from Bible Gateway (after this blog was listed on Bible Gateway’s Blogger Grid) advertised The Daniel Prayer. I could not resist the synchronicity and bought it from my local Christian bookshop. Anne Graham Lotz is a first-rate communicator. The paperback book is light and was my book of choice for long-distance train travel.
The second book I finished was And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Housseini. I found it in the library and read it from cover to cover in two days. The story is woven very skilfully and requires the reader to pay close attention. Although I felt as if I had followed all the threads, I waited a day or two and read it again more slowly, savouring the descriptions and picking up more of the nuances. It is the best novel I have read in a long time. (I have previously read The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by the same author.) The differences between UK and US English are perhaps most marked for everyday items. For example, rocks in the UK are large. We call small ones (and pebbles) stones. Skipping rocks must mean skimming stones, but I only realised this on the second reading.
The third book I read was lent to me by a friend after I enthused about the first book. It is Why? Trusting God when we don’t understand by Anne Graham Lotz. It is a little book, which may be read at a single sitting, or kept to hand to read a section at a time and really digest the contents. It is based on a chapter from John’s gospel, but also refers more than once to the Book of Daniel.