Quarterly reading review

Book reviews: the editor’s summer reading

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Last quarter’s reading ended with a month of childhood fiction. Although I was hoping to get back to some more serious reading, the summer months are always hectic for proofreading – something I hadn’t expected when I entered the profession. There are no long summer holidays for some students, as it’s submission time for many dissertations and theses. It’s a time I especially enjoy, working on some of the longer academic pieces. However, after a long day of concentration on the computer it’s difficult to read anything too ‘heavy’. Perhaps that’s why there are only two French language books in this quarter’s total, and some more unusual non-fiction choices.

Quarterly reading review
From the editor’s reading list

I began with Katherine Bivald’s Le Jour où Anita envoya tout balader. As I’d already enjoyed her first book so much that I’ve read it twice I quickly snapped up this new edition. I enjoyed the book, but I didn’t find the story line or characters as convincing as the earlier novel. Perhaps I will feel differently when I read it for a second time. Then, I was back to reading in English. I picked up a copy of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl at a local charity shop. I’d seen so many recommendations for this book and I wasn’t disappointed. It was a fast-paced, addictive read with a surprise twist at the end.

Cooking the books

One of my hobbies is vegetarian cooking and nutrition, so the next couple of non-fiction books were inspired by some research I was doing on vegan nutrition. Gut: The inside story of our body’s most underrated organ by Guilia Enders may seem a little unusual, but it’s a fascinating, quirky read which explains the inside story (pun intended!) of digestion in a humorous and entertaining style. This prize-winning book has become a world-wide best-seller and has sold over a million copies in German, nearly half a million in French and is now translated into English, Italian and several other languages. Still on the subject of vegetarian cooking, after trying out a few Kindle samples (a great way to decide whether to buy a book, or not) I finally treated myself to two new cookery books from the Deliciously Ella range. I wrote about these on my personal blog. I’ve enjoyed trying out new recipes, my only criticism being my own decision to buy the books on Kindle – I don’t think Kindle really works for recipe books.

My final clutch of books all came from a charity bookstall – a bag of sixteen books for only ten euro! Sometimes a random comment about a book will make you think, ‘oh I must read that’. Someone mentioned The God of Small Things on a Facebook book group and suddenly I had the urge to read it again, so I was delighted to spot it on the bookstall. Out of my second hand haul the only book I have not enjoyed was Graham Swift’s Tomorrow. Written in the first person monologue style, which I have previously enjoyed, I just couldn’t find any empathy with the main character narrator and it was a struggle to reach the end. The opposite was the case with Kate Atkinson’s When Will There Be Good News. Another thriller featuring the fictional detective Jackson Brodie, this was in the ‘can’t put it down’ category and was polished off in a couple of days whilst on holiday.

Prize-winning fiction

I did wonder whether my next choice, Julian Barnes Booker Prize-winning The Sense of an Ending was a bit high-brow for relaxed holiday reading, but it had all the essential elements of a thriller combined with excellent writing that again had me glued to the page. Another book group recommendation was Susan Hill’s crime writing. I’d always considered Susan Hill to be a gothic thriller writer with the excellent The Woman in Black and the follow-up to Daphne de Maurier’s Rebecca, Mrs De Winter, so I was pleased to find one of the eight crime novels featuring detective Simon Serailler The Vows of Silence. Although I correctly guessed the culprit before the end, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read, even if the main characters are all a little middle class.

My favourite read of the quarter was Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News, a book that had been on my ‘must read’ list for some time. Another prize winner. I was not disappointed, the quality of the writing evokes the atmosphere of Newfoundland, the warmth of its people and the harshness of the landscape and climate. As a lover of bleak scenery the prose created a desire to visit this remote but beautiful part of Canada.

Importance of localisation

My final book, the second French language book of the quarter, was just squeezed in at the end of September, Guillame Musso’s L’appel de Ange. I’d often seen Musso’s books on promotion in FNAC and had earmarked him as an author to explore. This thriller was based on an interesting concept of the repercussions of two people accidentally swopping mobile phones. I found the convoluted story unconvincing and the inevitable resolutions just a little too formulaic, with an inevitable ‘happy ending’ for the two main characters. One thing that particularly drew my attention was some factual inaccuracies in the policing activities of the English characters. Localisation is an important aspect of editing; ensuring that the storyline is appropriate to the specific country and culture.

The quarterly total reached twelve books, one more than last season. I’m starting October with an interesting ‘series project’ which I’ll report on in the future. In the meantime, let me know what you’ve enjoyed reading recently or give me a recommendation, by leaving a comment.