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)

Notify of

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

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments