An excit­ing life lived in the world of books

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I got this idea from Lee. Keep a running list of the books you read in one year, with a brief (or in depth depend­ing on your whims) comment on each. I’m hardly a liter­ary crit­ic, so don’t go expect­ing devast­at­ing incis­ive­ness.

You couldn’t peel me away from a book when I was young­er. I still read plenty, but I do squeeze a few other things into my life here and there.

I reregis­ted with the local library, now I’m back in Kent til whenev­er. When I asked how many books you were allowed to take out, they told me “30, and please make full use of it, we need the borrow­ings”. So I did, although I could only phys­ic­ally carry 16 home, because too many of the books I wanted were hard­backs. I have a lot of time on my hands at the moment, and not much money, and I’m feel­ing a little anti-social/mis­an­throp­ic of late, so the library is my friend.

I like to re-read books again a few years after I origin­ally read them, so there will be quite a few re-reads on the list as it goes on.

1. The Closed Circle– Jonath­an Coe
2. Dibs in Search of Self– Virgin­ia Axline
3. Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case– Agatha Christie

The Closed Circle is the sequel to the Rotters’ Club, a favour­ite of mine. This is the second time I’ve read the sequel, and the second time I haven’t enjoyed it. The first book was full of joie de vivre, despite the harsh things that happen to the char­ac­ters, but the second was a dull plod. A dull plod through the life of middle-aged disap­point­ments who were supposed to be the older version of the (far more inter­est­ing) char­ac­ters in the 70s, with a bit of ham-fisted social comment­ary on New Labour. I still need to see the tv version of the Rotters’ Club, it’s supposed to be excel­lent.

I did A-level psycho­logy, and Dibs in Search of Self was a back­ground book we were supposed to read for the Child­hood Devel­op­ment module (Freud, Piaget etc etc). I found it the other day when I was sort­ing some books out, and fancied re-read­ing it. I was the only person in class who actu­ally bothered to read it at the time, I think. It’s about a seri­ously emotion­ally disturbed boy brought up by the cold­est parents imagin­able, and how he comes out of his shell through play ther­apy. It’s writ­ten from a clin­ic­al perspect­ive though (Axline was the ther­ap­ist), so is free of the usual sort of maudlin crap you find in books about troubled chil­dren, without being uncar­ing, and is very well writ­ten and thought-provok­ing.

Agatha Christie books are like mind­less comfort food. I’ve read most of them, but there are so many, and they’re so simil­ar, that if I leave a long enough gap, I can read them again because I’ve forgot­ten most of the mystery. Even when I remem­ber whodun­nit, it’s quite fun to track the clues and the red herrings and seem­ingly throwaway bits that are actu­ally real clues. This one is Poirot’s last case, and it’s depress­ing, because every­one is old and ill and about to die/​mourning dead relat­ives. Agatha Christie wrote it in the 40s in case she died in WWII, so that Poirot had a prop­er ending, which might also explain why it’s such a major down­er. It wasn’t published until the 70s, when Agatha Christie was a little senile and had spent the last 10 years writ­ing mystery stor­ies that didn’t make much sense (some­times it’s good to quit while you’re ahead …) , so at least the basic mystery is good, and hangs togeth­er. I also spent quite a lot of it think­ing “Captain Hast­ings, have you not noticed that your young­est daugh­ter is a blatant Nazi?”

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