reading 2016: november

TLDR; I read A LOT in November. Most recently because of the ghastly cold and being forced to lay quietly about.

Unusually, I’ve got three partially read books which I keep moving away from and sporadically coming back to:

Derren Brown: Happy – Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine. I mentioned in October that I was struggling through this. To my surprise I actually did put it down (generally I just try to plow through). I pick it up occasionally, read a couple of pages or a chapter and let it lie fallow again. It is pretty hard going and should be used as an example of the need for brevity. I’m close to abandoning. 66% completed.

Chade-Meng Tan: Joy on Demand – The Art of Discovering the Happiness Within. This can be really kind of corny – particularly the cartoons. It’s not awful and has good insights, but I’m struggling a little to engage with the text. I pick up and read bits here and there. I feel like this will take me a long time. 34% completed.

Willard Spiegelman: Senior Moments – Looking Back, Looking Ahead. Definitely won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I like this very much. The the virtual memories podcast episode is worth a listen to gauge whether it will be to your taste. The podcasts I listen to are all American and one thing I adore about them is the exposure to the huge variety of American accents. I had no idea such diversity existed because I grew up hearing GenericTVAmerican. I guess Spiegelman would be WellEducatedEastCoastWellOff – it delights me! I’m savouring. 74% completed.


Then there were the memoirs to keep me motivated through the first week of not drinking. There are a lot out there and I read many, many sample chapters from books in this genre which I would not recommend at all!

Jill Stark: High Sobriety – my year without booze. I remember being really taken by the her article in The Sydney Morning Herald in 2011. I’d had no idea this had morphed into a book. This was a pretty good examination of the drinking culture in Australia. My favourite of the ones I read.

Lucy Rocca: Glass Half Full – A Positive Journey to Living Alcohol-Free. Not bad, not great – very cheerful. Couldn’t entirely relate to the author’s experiences – but at $3.69 I’m not complaining.

Sarah Turner, Lucy Rocca: The Sober Revolution – Calling Time on Wine O’Clock. Again not bad, not great. A fair bit of it was repeated from Glass Half Full. Again I often couldn’t relate. Again $3.69 – no complaints.

Rebecca Weller: A Happier Hour. Maybe it’s just the Australian drinkers I relate to? The author can periodically verge on the annoying (and is all about the monetising), but I quite liked it.

Jenna Hollenstein: Drinking to Distraction. Ended up being more a “how I became a buddhist” memoir. Another one I couldn’t really engage with. Another that wasn’t really awful, and another inexpensive one, so again can’t complain.

I think I’m thankfully totally done with the Sobriety Memoirs!


Then there were a bunch (probably about 10) sample chapters of self-improvement type books – all discarded and deleted.

And I’m pretty sure I really don’t want to read eat, pray, love


Then it back to some of the books I bought in the kindle sale back in July.

I blame having a rotten cold for some of my further purchasing decisions!

Melodie Johnson Howe: Mother Shadow (An LA Murder Mystery). I started off not really liking this much at all. It’s a really pretty average, bog standard mystery but by the end of it I’d bought the next in the series (of 2). Not because I was hooked, but just because I was interested to see where it was going to go …

Melodie Johnson Howe: Beauty Dies. Pretty standard detective fiction, not terrible, but I can’t say that I’d recommend. And then started on the next series:

Melodie Johnson Howe: Shooting Hollywood. This is a collection of short stories from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Middle-aged actress as protagonist. Not too bad and definitely a case of write what you know about as the author is a former actress. By then I couldn’t stop myself and bought the next:

Melodie Johnson Howe: City of Mirrors. The best of the bunch, I like the middle-aged actress and her defiantly blonde hair. Would read more. Extremely disconcerting when the author re-used a name from a character in the short stories for a different character in this novel.

By then I’d exhausted everything available by Melodie Johnson Howe on Amazon Australia, so moved on to …

Michael Hambling: Dark Crimes. Police Procedural. Again, not hugely great. I’m struggling to think of instances where a male author writes a female protagonist well. This definitely was not a well-written female – I found her pretty cliched. And the writing really didn’t resonate with me. I was hugely entertained by the glossary of english terms for US readers in the back! I thought the second in the series might get better, so pulled the trigger.

Michael Hambling: Deadly Crimes. The second in the series didn’t get better. There were two more books, but I just couldn’t bring myself to read them.

James Crumley: The Last Good Kiss (C W Sughrue 1). This was written in 1978 and was all hard-boiled, hard-living detective. Super-gritty – loads of booze, drugs, sex and violence. I would say it is Chandleresque – well I would if I had read any Chandler. Totally needs to be read with the voice of Tom Waits in your head. Started off challenging, but once I was immersed I LOVED it. FINALLY! A good book from the bargain bin!

Ulla-Lena Lundberg: Ice. I’m 25% in. As I bought this so long ago, I couldn’t remember what this was about and was waiting for a murder or mystery to occur. It’s so gentle and slow-paced that I couldn’t see this happening any time soon. I checked out the description on amazon and I’m fairly sure there aren’t going to be murders or mysteries – though there could be some deaths. It’s set in post-WW2 on an island off the coast of Finland and I feel like it is going to soon get pretty bleak and grim. I may set this one aside as I’m in the mood for neither bleak or grim.

I think there is a lesson here about avoiding the bargains!

As ever, no affiliate links (not that there’s anything wrong with that)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.