Thursday 28 December 2023

What I've Been Reading Recently

The final three months of 2023 are up. As a stickler for tradition, it's time to visit the books read during this final quarter. And I'm pleased to report I got through a lot of hot while avoiding the rot.

Evelina by Frances Burney
What Maisie Knew by Henry James
Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Caleb Williams by William Godwin
The Perfect Hoax by Italo Svevo
A Nation of Shopkeepers by Dan Evans
The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
Language and Hegemony in Gramsci by Peter Ives
The Last Temptation by Nikos Kazantzakis
The Virginian by Owen Wister
The History of Rasselas by Samuel Johnson
MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
The Aftermath of Feminism by Angela McRobbie
The Cattle Truck by George Semprun
Solaris by Stanislaw Lem
Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox
Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo
Best SF Stories of Brain W Aldiss by Brian W Aldiss
Without Gurantees by Paul Gilroy, Lawrence Grossberg, and Angela McRobbie (eds)
The Shards by Bret Easton Ellis
The Man of Feeling by Henry MacKenzie
Reading Science Fiction by James Gunn, Marleen S Barr, and Matthew Candelaria (eds)

I'm going to leave talking about the Ellis to one side as I'm planning on writing about it. But of the others, the stand outs from this quarter's book pile was The Female Quixote. Probably the funniest book I've read this year, which isn't bad for something that's been out for 270 years. It complemented Evelina as 18th century novels of manners, despite the latter being (ostensibly) more serious and less satirical. Sticking with the 1700s, Caleb Williams was a rousing, radical masterpiece from one of the founding thinkers of anarchism. Efforts were made to ban it because the book dared to suggest landowners might be prepared to lie when their interests are at stake. Speaking of naughty books, I got round to reading The Last Temptation, which got on the Vatican's index for blasphemy. For most of the book I was entirely nonplussed. Okay, so some liberties are taken by Kazantzakis in his novelisation of Jesus's adult life but nothing to get the devout too sweaty. But that was before we get toward the end of the book, of which I'll say no more.

Also in there is Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man. Considered one of if not his best, I'm sorry to say I didn't get on with it. But the happy sequel to reading this was a realisation more science fiction was needed in my life, hence the new turn in what this blog will be covering. And why there's a nice academic tome about SF at the bottom of the list.

Did Christmas shower any books upon you? And what are you reading at the moment?


Robert Dyson said...

Thanks for the list. I will read at least The Female Quixote.

Ken said...

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. A Dickensian novel, in a good way.