Sunday, 11 August 2013

What I've been reading

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Regency Buck
by Georgette Heyer

narrated by June Barrie
"It is in regrettable circumstances that beautiful Judith Taverner and her brother Peregrine first meet Julian St John Audley. The man, they both agree, is an insufferably arrogant dandy. But unfortunately for them, he's also the Fifth Earl of Worth, a friend of the Regent, and their legal guardian."
I thought (until I looked it up) that the narrator was the actress who plays Peggy Woolley in The Archers, but it turns out she isn't. She was very good, anyway, and the story was fine, but somehow it didn't meet my expectations. Of course there was the obligatory happy ending, but it didn't have the usual spark; I didn't find the characters completely believable, except for the gormless Peregrine, who was nicely done.

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The Lady Most Likely
by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway
"Hugh Dunne, the Earl of Briarly, needs a wife, so his sister hands him a list of delectable damsels and promises to invite them — and a few other gentlemen — to her country house for what is sure to be the event of the season."
Number nine of my twelve books of Christmas. It looks as though it will take me nearly the whole year to read them all, because after each one I need a few books of quality in order recover my composure. This one is among the better ones, and interesting when read in such close proximity to Georgette Heyer; they have a lot in common, set in the Regency period and including a modicum of laugh-out-loud humour. But in this one the characters are two-dimensional, the story is predictable, and the innovation of having three interconnected stories is not enough to counteract the overall inevitability of the plot. [And there's too much sex in it.]

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Through the Looking Glass (and What Alice Found There)
by Lewis Carroll

narrated by B. J. Harrison
"In this sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice once again finds herself in a bizarre and nonsensical place when she passes through a mirror and enters a looking-glass world where nothing is quite as it seems."
A long time since I last read this, and I can still remember some of the poems. When I was young I never saw the point of learning poems by heart, but it is a comfortable feeling to recite well-remembered rhythms, a bit like being able to remember the words of a song. It is a short book, and makes for quite a different experience when read with an adult's perspective. When I read it as a child it seemed longer and more confusing.

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by David Eagleman
"Why is a person whose name begins with J more likely to marry another person whose name begins with J? Why is it so difficult to keep a secret? And how is it possible to get angry at yourself: who, exactly, is mad at whom? A thrilling subsurface exploration of the mind and all its contradictions."
I like books about the brain, and this one is pretty good. It particularly highlights the issue of free will - do we really choose our own path? If someone who has suffered a brain injury experiences a personality change and commits a crime that is incompatible with their former personality, what should be taken into account when sentencing? It really is a grey area, and chimes with a lot of the work I do in weight management. Is an obese person responsible for their condition any more than someone suffering from depression? The physiological state of the brain seems to dictate behaviour a great deal more than our puny efforts to control it.

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