Normally I’d write only about crafty topics (with the occasional foray into travel) but I had to have a break from crochet for a while as I seem to have given myself ‘tennis elbow’; and other things were getting in the way too, so I have been indulging in one of my other favourite activities: reading.  I always read – I’m one of those people who will read the ingredients on the ketchup bottle if nothing else is available! – so I generally have at least two books on the go.  Now I’ve given in and got a Kindle it’s more like five.  My ‘goto’ authors for the last few months have been Terry Pratchett*, Dana Stabenow, Andrea Camillieri, Sue Grafton, Kate Atkinson, M C Beaton (only the Agatha series) which were familiar and comforting (even if the subject matter of the crime novels is usually quite gruesome). Pratchett I love because his books can be read on so many levels – as well as being absurdly silly – and because I was able to share this love with a very dear friend who sadly passed away last year.

I don’t often experiment with ‘new’ authors, i.e. those who are new to me, but recently I was tempted by a Kindle Daily Deal and bought ‘The Golem and Djinni’ by Helene Wecker: this is a debut novel and like many people I am desperate to read her next release.

Some reviewers have called this a ‘fantasy’ novel but I see it more as ‘magical realism’ in a similar vein to the novels of Angela Carter, particularly ‘Nights at the Circus’ with perhaps a touch of A S Byatt’s ‘The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye”. The tale is set in New York in 1899 – as the title suggests two very unlikely creatures meet and their fates become entwined,  For me it was not just the story line that held my attention but also the quality of the writing and the historical detail – I now want to find out more about the Bowery and the Lower East Side, locations which up till now I’d only registered in songs but enough of this – just read it!

Emboldened by this success I also tried out a method of selecting books to read that I first used as a child: when faced with the shelves of my local library and knowing that I’d read all the books by my favourite authors at least twice I tested myself by simply picking a book by ‘its cover’ or by a feeling that I ‘ought’ to read it (you know like “War and Peace” or “Wuthering Heights” – I’ve not read the first but have read the latter –  don’t bother if you haven’t, it’s on a par with Barbara Cartland novels).  In this way, as a teenager I picked up “David Copperfield” (didn’t finish it and have never yet managed to read any Dickens novel), and Homer’s “Odyssey” (I don’t think I finished that either but have no clear memory)!  This time I was more successful and found: “Gossip” – Beth Gutcheon and “The German Boy” – Patricia Wastvedt.  Both were stretching in different ways – the first I thought would be more ‘chick-lit’ (how wrong could I be?) and I thought the second would not be about WWII (how wrong could I be).

My point – not that you read what I did; just jump in a try something new, different or that you’d previously rejected!  I’ve even recently read “Jane Eyre” for the first time ever as my daughter had to read it for school and was struggling – I can see why, it’s so far away in style from the modern vernacular but as I’m a fan of Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope it wasn’t so obscure to me.  Not sure I’d read it again though!

*I drafted this before the ‘gloriously grumpy’ TP, as Neil Gaiman titled him, was taken off by Death: “AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER”

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