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Reading things in places

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I.

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The book: The Charioteer, Mary Renault 

The place: Snowdonia

A weekend of camping in Snowdonia: pitching tents in horizontal rain in the dark; climbing a mountain in mist and hail, only to have the clouds lift dramatically when we were on the top to expose the view; marshmallows over a campfire and one of my fellow campers nearly setting me on fire; magnificent Welsh breakfasts; and the new-to-me game of ‘Horse’, which greatly enlivened the multiple-hour trip back to London.

So very little reading done on the weekend itself, but on the journey down from Glasgow I found myself rather grateful for the parts of the trip where I was wedged into train corridors while festooned with camping equipment, as that meant I couldn’t legitimately work and could therefore do nothing but read. The Charioteer has thus gone straight to my top five books I’ve read so far in 2014. Antonia Forest references Mary Renault in one of her books, and I can see a certain similarity in their writing: the precision of their writing, and their incisive take on human nature. I want to read everything else Mary Renault has read now, and am very pleased that they’ve all (? – I think) just come out in ebook form.

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(Wrong country, chaps.)

II.

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The book: Little Failure, Gary Shteyngart

The place: London

Note my gigantic pile of mud-smeared camping equipment, comprehensively lowering the tone of the rather fancy hotel where I was staying.

A generally Russian-themed time in London, as Emma and I also took in the magnificent Malevich exhibit at the Tate Modern. I know vanishingly little about art, and am not even sure what I like half the time, but I do love Malevich, as indeed I love pretty much every cultural product to have come out of Russia in the twentieth century.

(I haven’t finished the Shteyngart yet, but I am getting on with it rather better than I did with his fiction. His violently acerbic brand of humour works better, in my view, when it’s self-directed.)

III.

The book: Memory, Lois McMaster Bujold

The place: en route to South Wales 

Me: “I was rereading Memory a while ago, I don’t know why…”

Emma: “Probably because everyone should reread all the Vorkosigan books every year, because they’re the best books ever, and why should anyone deny themselves as much Cordelia Vorkosigan as possible?”

She has a point. The Vorkosigan books are becoming some of my favourite comfort rereads, up there with Antonia Forest and Marian Keyes. A Civil Campaign is probably my favourite, or Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance (Ivan!), but Memory was the only book I had on my Kindle, and so Memory it was. I may plough through the whole series again soon, as I haven’t done so since Guinea Bissau in February 2012.

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Written by Jess

August 29, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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