Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week? | Books

Welcome to this week’s blogpost. Here’s our roundup of your comments and photos from the last week. To start, some book philosophy. A q...

Welcome to this week’s blogpost. Here’s our roundup of your comments and photos from the last week.

To start, some book philosophy. A question from esja prompted by Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!:

Can people finish an enjoyable book and just pick up the next one? It seems like a disservice to the book you have just finished, as though it is to be discarded without thought and transferred without further ado to the midden pile! I feel a little guilty, as though all my other books may complain that they do their best and I don’t appreciate them afterwards .. like ex-lovers maybe! Anyway, I finished, and thoroughly enjoyed O Pioneers! by Willa Cather and don’t wish to start a new book immediately as I feel I will have behaved dishonourably to Ms Cather. Bonkers I know.

American Notes by Charles Dickens has fascinated MissBurgundy:

It’s a record of Dickens’ first visit to America from January to June 1842. He was of course very interested in the prisons and ‘asylums’ in the towns he visited, and there was maybe a bit too much about the individual inmates for me, but his descriptions of the countryside, the towns, the people and especially the modes of travel were fascinating. Apparently most towns had pigs wandering around everywhere, looking for food, but at night they all went back to their own homes!

Dickens finishes with a chapter on slavery which must have had a powerful effect on his British readers. He collected press cuttings during his travels and gives us lists of small ads seeking slaves who had run off and how they could be recognised – by dreadful physical scars, notched ears, branding and the irons they were shackled with.

ChronicExpat also recommends a Dickens – Barnaby Rudge:

In the end I would say it was more interesting than enjoyable but it was very interesting … in some ways I think it’s better than Tale of Two Cities so if you are interested in exploring Dickens’ lesser-known works, yes, go for it.

RickLondon has “just finished” The Soul of Kindness by Elizabeth Taylor:

I can see why people get excited about this writer. It seems she has often been described as a latter day Jane Austen, which seems to me a lazy comparison. Perhaps because she writes about a very interior, middle class milieu? Personally, although there is humour in her books, I think they are a lot more melancholic. I see her style as falling somewhere between Richard Yates and Edward St Aubyn, and I think if you like either of these authors you would enjoy her books.

“Evie Wyld can sure spin a yarn,” says laidbackviews after reading Bass Rock:

A real page turner as she weaves several tales across 300 years, all in a familiar place to me. Must look out for some of her earlier, awardwinning, works. Really enjoyed this one.

Captain_Flint has tackled Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice:

With a plot less riddle-invested than The Cry of Lot 49 and with less of the stylistic acrobatics Pynchon became known for, it is nevertheless an engulfing read with plenty of humorous passages and dialogue befitting The Big Lebowski‘s script. Suffused with a good dose of nostalgia for the ‘60s, and not just where it concerns doper subculture – references to rock music and TV shows by the bucketload -, the whole tone of the novel evokes a certain kind of Americanness negotiating its way between the denouncement of official abuse of power and infringement on individual liberties and a sort of lost innocence fallen prey to narcotic-induced paranoia. Some parts are just brilliantly done.

James Joyce’s Ulysses has inspired molly2bloom:

Not “reading” but more like standing in front of a huge canvas, part Bosch and part Picasso, discovering some new angle or feature every time. This isn’t original: Anthony Burgess called it an oratorio, and Borges called it a labyrinth — this last something to conjure with, as Daedalus is one of its three protagonists. I just love sinking into its puzzles and panoramas, and finding ever more puns and assorted word plays.

Finally, PatLux has been finding resonance in Don DeLillo’s White Noise:

In the novel the fictitious toxic material is called Nyodene D and following an accident a cloud of it covers a large area. Rather than people being told to stay at home they are ordered by the authorities to leave. The father is exposed to the toxic chemical for two and a half minutes … The family in the story end up quarantined and masked with 40 other families in an abandoned karate studio. One of the characters says “Look at us in this place. We are quarantined. We are like lepers in medieval times. They won’t let us out of here. They leave food at the foot of the stairs and tiptoe away to safety. This is the most terrifying time of our lives. Everything we love and have worked for is under serious threat … Our fear is enormous.”

After nine days they are told they can go back home. I am now going back to the book to read DeLillo’s version of life after such an event. Life and art, art and life. Connections everywhere in fiction.

It’s DeLillo’s world, we’re just living in it.

Interesting links about books and reading

If you’re on Instagram, now you can share your reads with us: simply tag your posts with the hashtag #GuardianBooks, and we’ll include a selection in this blog. Happy reading!

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Newsrust: Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week? | Books
Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week? | Books
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