Wednesday, 23 October 2013

What I've been reading

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A Handful of Dust
by Evelyn Waugh

narrated by Andrew Sachs
"After seven years of marriage, the beautiful Lady Brenda Last is bored with life at Hetton Abbey, the Gothic mansion that is the pride and joy of her husband, Tony. She drifts into an affair with the shallow socialite John Beaver and forsakes Tony for the Belgravia set."
Evelyn Waugh can write such dry comedy that it came as a surprise to find this book not funny at all. A sad story of a marriage breakdown, tragic death and imprisonment, and most characters so self-obsessed and selfish. Most of the time I was listening I didn't think I liked it, but he is such a good writer and Sachs such a good narrator that, despite everything, I would class this as a good book. I wouldn't suggest anyone read it for laughs, though.

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The Call of the Wild
by Jack London

narrated by B. J. Harrison
"Buck is stolen away from his comfortable life as a pet in California and sold to dog traders. Surrounded by cruelty, Buck’s natural instincts and behaviour begin to emerge as he works as a mail carrying sled dog, scavenging for food, protecting himself against other dogs and sleeping out in the cold snow."
This is a splendid book, shorter than I remember, but perfect for the car journey. Nothing more to say!

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Type 1 Diabetes in Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults: How to Become an Expert on Your Own Diabetes
by Ragnar Hanas
"This practical, easy-to-read book tells you everything you need to know to take good care of your diabetes. Its strengths lie in its ability to connect with the reader, to explain and to make the reader understand medical knowledge in a clear and concise manner."
This enormous book has taken me a full nine months to read, and as I reached the last pages I knew that if I were to start at the beginning again, I would get just as much out of it as the first time through. I will do that at some point, but after nine months of hard slog I think I will give it a break and do more leisure reading until the New Year.

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Less Than Angels
by Barbara Pym

narrated by Patience Tomlinson
"Less Than Angels follows the loves, works and hopes of a group of young anthropologists. Catherine Oliphant is a writer and lives with handsome anthropologist Tom Mallow. Their relationship runs into trouble when he begins a romance with student Deirdre Swann, so Catherine turns her attention to the reclusive anthropologist Alaric Lydgate, who has a fondness for wearing African masks."
Anthropology is an acquired taste, I imagine. This is a gentle story, sauntering through the narrative with hardly any sense of forward motion, so that I became quite impatient for something to happen. With patience, though, I came to recognise the characters and their personalities, and realised I was reading a book that required no effort and presented no challenge. Which is fine, once in a while.

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