Reading Log: September 2013

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Books acquired: “After 1903 — What?,” Robert Benchley; “Sixpence House,” Paul Collins; “Howards End is on the Landing,” Susan Hill; “Early Bird,” Rodney Rothman; “John Carter of Mars,” Edgar Rice Burroughs; “More Baths Less Talking,” Nick Hornby; “The Sea,” John Banville; “Then We Came to the End,” Joshua Ferris; “The Hour After Westerly,” Robert M. Coates; “Catching Fire,” Suzanne Collins.

Books read:  “The House That Sam Built: Sam Maloof and Art in the Pomona Valley 1945-1985,” Harold Nelson; “The Shuttered Room and Other Stories,” H.P. Lovecraft with August Derleth; “No Doors, No Windows,” Harlan Ellison; “A Room With a View,” E.M. Forster.

Four books this month, all with related titles. That’s just me amusing myself — someone builds a house with a shuttered room and no doors or windows, except for a room with a view! — but it’s also me nudging myself to read four books I’d been meaning to read for some time. If only I’d had time for Hammett’s “The Glass Key,” Dickson’s “No Room for Man,” maybe Heinlein’s “Door Into Summer.”

The Maloof book was the catalogue for a Huntington exhibit in 2011; it’s a little pedantic, but it’s got a bio, lots of photos, and page-length bios of Claremont-area artists, so for my purposes, it’s a good reference.

The Lovecraft collection is the usual creeping-horror stuff. A little less fun than the two others I’ve read, probably because it’s more Derleth than Lovecraft. I’ve owned this maybe three years.

The Ellison I’ve owned for 30 years, unread. Yipes! A collection of thriller and crime stories, largely, from ’50s and ’60s magazines, they benefit from being direct and uncomplicated.

Forster’s novel was bought at Borders in Montclair when it closed two years ago. This 1908 romance involves a proper young English woman on a tour of Italy who meets an eccentric English father and son and doesn’t know her own mind well enough to realize she likes the son. Back home, she becomes engaged to a starchy snob. But then — ! Well, why spoil it. Forster’s writing is warm and amused by the travelers (a couple of reverends, two spinster sisters, a woman who fancies herself artistic and unconventional, etc.) and by human failings. One of my favorite books this year. My next task is to rent the Merchant Ivory movie, which I saw long ago.

You’ll notice a lot of books in the “acquired” list; those were all bought at Powell’s in Portland on a short vacation in mid-month. (I have a column written about this trip but haven’t had a chance to get it into the paper yet, what with one thing and another.) A couple of nonfiction books about books, most of the rest are fiction. God knows when I’ll get to any of them.

Your turn, now, to chime in with whatever you’ve been reading.

Next month: My reading catches fire (see final title in “Books Acquired” section).

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  • DebB

    I love the cover on that Ellison book – so gloriously Bill Graham 60s-70s! I bought that font last year for a client’s special project, and keep looking for excuses to use it.

    My books this month:

    “Death of a Second Wife” by Maria Hudgins. Main character’s ex-husband’s new wife (whew!) is murdered – guess who everyone suspects?

    “Sweets Begorra” by Connie Sheldon. Last, so far, in a series about a New Mexico baker and her cop boyfriend-now-husband, solving murders. Takes place in Ireland.

    “Death on the Down” by Simon Brett, a late British author who wrote several different series. I enjoy his writing very much.

    “McNally’s Luck” and “McNally’s Risk” by Lawrence Sanders. Tried the first in this series as a cheapie from Amazon, and liked it enough to continue. The main character is a 40-something bachelor who lives in his parent’s mansion in Palm Beach. I am wondering if this is one of those series where the characters never grow or change (not my favorite style).

    “A Dangerous Talent” and “A Cruise to Die For” by Charlotte Elkins and Aaron Elkins. The only two, so far, in a series about an art restorer and authenticator. Her father was sent to prison for a huge art forgery scheme, and she suffers the effects on her life and career.

    Finally, in an effort to save a little money, I’ve begun re-reading a series I read several years ago, the Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman. It’s about a woman in her 60s, during the 1960s, who walks into the CIA and naively asks if they need any spies – she’s there to volunteer. I’d read the first three by the end of the month.

    BTW, PBS Masterpiece Classic did “A Room with a View” last year, I think. I’ve never read the book, but I enjoyed their production.

    • davidallen909

      Hadn’t known about that. I’ve got the ’86 version now on rental from Video Paradiso and I’m curious to see how closely it follows the book. No doubt the PBS version is very faithful.

      I love the covers of those Ellison books too! There was a series of 11 matching editions, numbered (this one is No. 9), from Pyramid from ’74-’76. I file them accordingly.

      My mom read the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries when I was growing up.

  • WendyE.

    “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand.

  • Doug Evans

    I read two!

    “Suspect” by crime novelist Robert Crais, who writes the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series. This one is a stand-alone book about a police dog wounded in Afghanistan who is teamed with an LA police officer also recovering from a shooting . Alternating chapters are told from Maggie (the dog)’s point of view, which was interesting for me because we just started fostering a golden retriever.

    and…

    “Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith, which is the pseudonym J.K. Rowling was using to get from under the pressure of her own name until someone in the law firm she uses spilled the beans (I’m guessing that person is in trouble). A private eye is hired to solve the murder (or was it suicide?) of a famous and famously troubled model. No school for young wizards or anything, but pretty good stuff!

    I also started about six other books, including Grapes of Wrath, but they will have to wait till I finish them to get credit here.

    I’ve never read E.M. Forster but I plan to someday! I also like the Borders connection. Man, I miss that store!

    Looking forward to the Powell’s column! I stood right in that same John Carter spot and looked at those books when I was there in August. Happy reading, everyone!

  • John Clifford

    Dan Brown”s Inferno. Not anywhere near as good as DaVinci or Angels and Demons. No ancient cults, just normal bad guys who leave clues related to Dante.

    A specially priced eBook only Bones story by Cathy Reich, Bones in her Pocket. Good until the afterward which was a polemic on the evils of puppy mills. I guess it’s what I get for going cheap.

  • Dara Allen

    I, too, am a fan of Robert Crais and Lauren Hillenbrand! I haven’t read “Suspect” as yet, but it’s next on my reading list. I have just finished reading “An Invisible Thread” by Laura Schoff, a true story about a chance meeting of two people who seemingly had nothing in common, but who changed each other’s lives forever– in positive ways. (I was going to comment about Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax series, but saw that I had already been “outed” as a fan. I once saw a movie about the first book in the series, starring Rosalind Russell as Mrs. P. As usual, the book was better!)