Sunday 1 July 2012

Tea and book talk on Canada Day...

Happy Canada Day!  I just sat down with a cup of chai tea and am thinking about the books I finished this past week. 

This weekend always seems to symbolize the real beginning of summer for me; school is done for just about everyone, there will likely be consistently hot weather, many people take vacations, so the end of June seems to be a kind of ending for me, end of this part of the year, or the spring season.  I mention this because on Thursday last week, June 28th, I finished three books, which seemed appropriate, for the reasons menioned above.  I had these three books on the go simultaneously and finished them all in the same evening.  The first was Strange Affair by Peter Robinson.  I brought that to work to read on my lunch each day, and since I take a short lunch, there is not much reading time.  It wasn't worth dragging my "at home" book to work with me each day, so I chose a novel that I was familiar enough with that I could just read short sections at a time and still maintain the thread of the plot.  Of course it was excellent, but I've been reading it over the past few months, so I was glad to finally reach the end.  The next was my audiobook, Shades of Blue, by Bill Moody.  That one didn't take me as long to get through, but I was ready to get to the end of that one, too - it usually takes me about a month to finish an audiobook.  And when I got home, I finished Ruth Rendell's End in Tears, which I started last weekend.  I made a comment in my last post about needing something "light" to read and so chose a Rendell mystery.  I want to clarify.  Rendell's writing is not "light" at all.  She is an excellent writer and uses just the right expressions to capture a situation perfectly.  These situations are often dark, such as her description of the homes of elderly people.  She writes, "Their eyes are no longer able to see the dirt and untidiness... The curtains in their windows...once pristine white, collect dust and hang limp inside fly-spotted windows that are seldom opened, if by now they can be, for the elderly feel the cold.  Mostly, too,they are poor and often proud so that their relatives think this is their chosen way to live, not what it really is, a precarious hanging on to life at whatever cost."  These insightful passages appear throughout this novel, making the word "light" rather inappropriate.  I guess because it is a mystery I referred to it as "light" because books in a mystery series don't usually deal with serious issues at such great lengths as to make the reader think deeply about these issues.  Having said that, the Robinson novel I just finished dealts with human trafficking for the purposes of prostitution, a rather serious issue.  I guess I mean the focus is usually more on the investigation of the crime and arrest of the perpetrators rather than the issue itself.  Sometimes the main characters, usually the detectives, are light-hearted or behave in humourous, off-handed ways, giving the mystery a light-hearted tone.  I believe Janet Evanovich is a writer who uses humour and wit to give her novels a light-hearted tone.  I usually prefer mysteries that have this darker, more serious tone.  I think I really meant that the book was a paperback, and so was literally "light", in that it didn't weigh much.

So there was this coincidence of completing three novels at the end of the month which symbolizes for me the end of the "serious" part of the year.  On Friday I began a new audiobook, Defending Jacob by William Landay, which I chose because it is narrated by Grover Gardner.  It also must have sounded interesting to me, although I didn't know exactly what it was about before starting it.  Anyways, the main character is an assistant district attorney named Andy, who has a wife named Lori.  This audiobook is narrated by Grover Gardner.  The last book I listened to was narrated by Gardner and, while the main character's name was Evan Horne, his girlfriend's name was Andie and she was an FBI agent.  The audiobook I listened to just before the Evan Horne book was also narrated by Gardner, and the main character was named Andy, an independently wealthy lawyer, whose girlfriend, a chief of police, was named Lori.  This is just too many Andy's/Andie's and Lori's for me to dismiss lightly.  And because they are all narrated by the same person, the names all sound the same, same inflection and pronunciation.  So it's a bit weird, and I'm having a challenge keeping the stories straight, especially the Andy-and-Lori couples, but I will plug away with this audiobook anyways.  I just started listening to it, but it seems to be about a man who is involved in the investigation of the murder of a boy who went to school with his son Jacob, and the ways in which Jacob may have been involved in the murder. 

I seem to be drawn in by these mystery-dramas, and I wonder why.  I never try to solve the mystery or figure out whodunnit.  I guess I like to read these types of books because they are so different from anything I am likely to encounter in my own life that they are an "escape" of sorts, though usually of a dark and murderous kind.  I really enjoy watching mystery series as well, usually British mysteries, but also the American series "Criminal Minds".  Yes, I'll admit it, it's my guilty secret.  In an ideal world, where free time was unlimited and responsibilities few, I would spend many an afternoon watching back-to-back "Criminal Minds" reruns.  Good thing I have responsibilities and free time is not unlimited!!   

As it is, while I would love to indulge myself in the television activity described above, I have to get reading my next book club selection, Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, as we are meeting next Saturday.  Oh my, I just started it yesterday and it is long.  Not only is it long (over 500 pages), but it is written in a rather disjointed way, with short little blurbs that are descriptions and commentary about a young girl, Leisel (the "book thief" of the title), who is gone to stay with a foster family during WWII, told from the point of view of Death.  And it is a book written for teens.  Each of these factors alone would make this book a challenge for me to finish in time for the meeting, but with all of them together in one novel, I'm despairing even before I start!  Having said that, I've heard many adults rave about this novel, and I believe it was published at least three years ago yet it is still extremely popular, at least at the library, as there are rarely any copies available on the shelf (I found a copy in a used book store, which was fortunate).  I will plug away at this novel over next couple of days, and hope that I, too, get caught up in the story.

I think that's all for now.  I need to get reading - I think I will take a chair out on the porch and take advantage of the breeze to enjoy this lovely, not-too-humid holiday weather.

Bye for now!

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