Summer reading

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I love to read, and that my reading interests vary widely. Mostly I look for books that are thought-provoking while still being enjoyable to read. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to sit back and read a book that entertains without challenging me in any way.

I seem to have picked up several of those recently, especially because I came across a mystery series I am enjoying. I’m also in the middle of a book about P.T. Forsyth, a Scottish theologian, but for a couple of weeks it has languished at the bottom of a pile of novels and crossword books.

Jasper Fforde

I had finished with the most recent of his Thursday Next novels, One of Our Thursdays Is Missing, so I went back to his Nursery Crime series and read The Fourth Bear. Both are entertaining, but not as good as his earlier Thursday Next novels. Those earlier novels were so full of inventive ideas and wonderful wordplay that it’s not surprising his later books seem somewhat flat by comparison.

Jack Higgins

I have read a number of Jack Higgins’ novels over the years, though he has written so many that I’m sure I have read only a small portion of his total work. I can be sure when I pick up one of his books that it will be a page-turner – and that it will be full of both heroism and death. The Judas Gate caught my interest because it has to do with the ongoing war with Islamic terrorists, and because it features the character Sean Dillon, whom I liked in the other novels in which he appears.

M. C. Beaton

I noticed the latest Agatha Raisin mystery on the Ready-to-Read shelves in the library. I had never read anything by M. C. Beaton before, but this one looked interesting, so I decided to find the earlier books in the series and read them first. I started with Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, and I am currently reading Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley. Agatha is an interesting character, though hard for me to relate to sometimes. I want to yell at her not to do such stupid things, but of course she does them anyway. The books are full of other interesting characters, many of them rather one-dimensional, but the interplay between them all is part of the appeal of the series.

Diana Gabaldon

I started reading Gabaldon’s Outlander series because my mother-in-law gave me the first three as a Christmas present. I read each of the following novels as they came out, though I borrowed them from the library rather than purchasing them. The difficulty is that they are such long books – hard to finish before they’re due back at the library. I read A Breath of Snow and Ashes a few years ago, and hadn’t even realized that the saga had continued with An Echo in the Bone until I saw it in the library recently. Like the others, however, it is long – so instead I checked out Lord John and the Private Matter, which is both shorter and set in a time period earlier in the Outlander series. (Lord John is a character in that series, whom Gabaldon originally wrote a short story about but the story kept growing.)


3 Responses to Summer reading

  1. Wilhelmina Upton says:

    The Thursday Next series is great but I agree with you that the later one’s are a bit flat. Well, for me it went downhill after Miss Havisham died, loved her character.
    I still have to check out the Nursery Crimes but I’m a bit hesitant because I don’t know any nursery rimes and if it will still be enjoyable then.

    • Pauline says:

      The Nursery Crime books deal with children’s lit in general more than specific nursery rhymes, though there are some of those. One of the central characters of the first book is Humpty Dumpty, and I imagine you know that one. In the second book it’s the three bears, which is a story rather than a nursery rhyme.

      There is one poem referenced in the second book that I had never heard of, Edward Lear’s “The Quangle Wangle’s Hat.” I wasn’t sure if it was real or just made up by Fforde until I Googled it.

      I’m not familiar with some of the books Fforde included in the Thursday Next books – I’ve never read Great Expectations, or anything by Jane Austen. That may have decreased my appreciation of certain aspects of the books, but not my overall enjoyment of them.

      • Wilhelmina Upton says:

        Thanks for the evaluation, I only read a review on amazon and that made me not buy them immediately.
        As for Thursday Next, I had read most of the books by Jane Austen but not Great Expectations. Still the earlier books were better in general I think.

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