Saturday, July 07, 2007

Books I've been reading

I read a few books while we were away in France. I'm not that interested in sitting out in the sun, but I do enjoy reading a good book while sitting out in the early morning sun or in the shade in the afternoon.

I read Two Lives by Vikram Seth. I've read most of Seth's works - his best, in my opinion, is A Suitable Boy, a thoroughly enjoyable mammoth of a novel set in India and following a few families and exploring their relationships. I've read it twice, and I could read it again and again and still enjoy it as much. Two Lives is a very different book. It's a biography of Vikram Seth's great uncle Shanti and great aunt Henny. It's a very touching book, in particular when he recounts how aunt Henny's mother and sister died in concentration camps (they were German Jews in Berlin). I found that parts of Two Lives really spoke to me, but it was an uneven book, and Seth's editor should have advised him to cut the few pages where he philosophies about the state of the world. I think I keep on buying Vikram Seth's books in the hope of finding another A Suitable Boy, but he hasn't quite delivered yet!

I also read The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown. It was one of the books left by previous holiday makers in the house, and I had to give it a try. Now, you've probably all read it already, so I won't bore you with the details. It was a great summer read - it had a good plot, plenty of baddies, an interesting background, and lots of twists. I probably won't read anything else by Dan Brown, as I've been told that all his books follow the same formula. But if you haven't read it yet, you'll enjoy it! Apparently, the movie is really disappointing, and I can imagine why - what makes the book enjoyable is all the background history and speculation about Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene and Da Vinci. I guess all of this is barely touched upon in the movie, so all you're left with is a one-dimensional thriller.

My third holiday book was Jewels, A Secret History, by Victoria Finlay. I had read her previous book, Colour, which I'd highly recommend to anybody who is interested in painting and pigments. Jewels is the same kind of book, this time about precious stones. It was quite interesting, even to me, who is not into jewelry at all!

And the last book I read was My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult. I always keep the best til last, and this is definitely the best book I've read in a good while. I had never read any of her books, and now I want to read all of them! (and thanks to Mary, I have a couple more of her books to read now!). My Sister's Keeper is the story of Anna, who was born for the purpose of helping her sister, Kate, fight leukaemia. It's a very good story, full of heart, and it definitely brought tears to my eyes.

Right now, I'm reading The Island by Victoria Hislop, loaned to me by Mary. And talk about coincidence: I was giving training to a customer on Thursday, showing her how to transfer her pictures from her camera to her computer. Her pictures were from a holiday in Crete - I could not believe it when she said "and that's a picture of the island across the bay - it used to be a leper colony". This was the island that the book is about, Spinalonga. And it looked exactly like I had imagined. There are some good pictures on the Victoria Hislop website, by the way.

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