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November books

  1. Notes From a Small Island, Bill Bryson

Bryson travels all over England and writes about it; I started re-reading this as London prep and finished it after I got back. And then I got to see Bill Bryson (and even talk to him and have him sign my battered copy. )

I do vehemently disagree with his assessment of Oxford, however.

  1. The Queen of the Tearling, Erika Johansen

A very nice fantasy from a first-time author – I loved quite a bit about it (atypical heroine, no clear love interest being set up for a future book, how you think you’re in a typical fantasy quasi-medieval setting and then  … ) The writing wasn’t the most polished thing ever, but it’s a first book and I’ll forgive a lot for a compelling storyline.

  1. The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson

London + cholera epidemic = my kind of book. Absolutely loved it. (Up soon: a book about the Great Fire. )

  1. Reclaiming Travel, Ilan Stavans & Joshula Ellison

A Netgalley advance copy; billed as a “meditation on the meaning of travel”, I found it extremely pretentious and existing entirely in the theoretical.  It started as an opinion piece in the NYT and that’s where it should have stayed.

  1. The Sound of Music Story, Tom Santopiertro

Another Netgalley offering. A bit too long, and a bit too detailed about the lives of bit players, and lacking finesse, but bound to be of interest to those who grew up with the film.

  1. The Ice Dragon, George R. R. Martin

This seems to be marketed as a teen book when I’d place it fairly firmly in the middle grade/tween category. It’s an absolutely lovely, short fairy-tale type story set vaguely in the Game of Thrones world, and it’s beautiful and sad and deceptively simple and childlike but wise.
Yeah, I was confused by this book, but I loved it a lot.

  1. The Book of Life, Deborah Harkness

It only took me a month to get through (sigh) but finally, the trilogy is over. The second book will always be my favorite, and I got frustrated with Diana and Matthew quite often throughout the series, and I see some fairly large plot holes (



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 2nd, 2014 11:26 pm (UTC)
I only made it through book 1 of Deborah Harkness's series before getting sick of our dear couple.

What did Bill Bryson say about Oxford?
Dec. 4th, 2014 11:39 am (UTC)
He found it to be overrun with ugly modern architecture. ??? I mean, yes, there is SOME but it seemed like there was still *so much* beautiful historical architecture that the exceptions weren't that distressing. Or maybe I just hung out in the good parts of town.
Dec. 3rd, 2014 04:16 am (UTC)
There is one but in that Bryson book that had me gasping and purple from laughter. It's the bit about how people in a village just go into each other's houses, and the time he was alone in the kitchen, let rip a huge noisy fart, then turned around to find his neighbor standing by the door. Omg. I nearly died.
Dec. 4th, 2014 11:40 am (UTC)
YES! And then the time he was hiding in the pantry because a neighbor popped in while he was in a state of undress (I think?) and the neighbor was like ... "okay, Bill, g'morning, just borrowing a couple eggs here." I could just see it all in my head. :D
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )