November was a bit of a strange month reading wise. I only read six books, though I did manage to read three essays and some poetry. The main reason for the smaller number of books is that I only listened to one audio book. Partly this is because I have now read most of the audio books in the library that I want to read. The stock of audio books is insignificant compared to the written versions and the cost of audio books is pretty much prohibitive from my perspective. So I may have to get used to listening to fewer and fewer audio books. Of the six books, three were crime novels and all very good. The Samaritan’s Secret by Matt Rees I have already reviewed here. A German Requiem by Philip Kerr is the third and final book in his Berlin Noir trilogy featuring detective Benny Gunther. More complex and murky dealings, this time in the early post Nazi years and despite its inclusion in the Berlin Noir series, this one is primarily set in Vienna.
The other crime novel I read was Dia de Perros/Dog Days, by Catalan writer Alicia Gimenez Bartlett. This is the second in her inspector Petra Delgado series and is again set in Barcelona. As the title suggests this mystery revolves around the world of dogs, and we are treated to an impressive introduction to the complexities and intricacies of the world of dog lovers. While Delgado and her colleague, Garzón eventually solve the murder, much of the novel is about their pretty complex and varied love life.
For our reading group I read Brooklyn by Irish writer Colm Tóibín. This is the tale of a young Irish lass, Eilis Lacey who emigrates to New York in the early 1950s. I didn’t enjoy this novel very much as I found Eilis a very passive character who just seems to let things happen to her. The other two books were non fiction. The Invention of the Land of Israel by Shlomo Sands is a follow-up to his groundbreaking book on the Invention of the Jewish People. In the Invention of the Land of Israel, Sands exposes in some detail the lies and deceptions behind the central tenets of the Jewish claim to Palestine. I hope to devote a post to this book later. The other non fiction book was Russia by Martin Sixsmith, which I listened to in the audio version. This is a good overview of the whole of Russian history. My main complaint about the book is that is was written with the clear purpose of promoting a particular view of Russia. Namely that it is in the nature of Russia and Russians to be ruled by an autocrat. As there are no comparisons with other countries this is a rather one sided perspective. Good introduction to Russian history thought.
To round off the month, I further expanded my reading to include three essays by Lewis Hyde an American writer. These were The Enclosure of Culture, an erudite overview of how copyright laws have changed over the centuries and two essays on the Oxherding Series, a parable about the conduct of Buddhist practice. Lewis Hyde is an amazing writer and cultural critic and his essays are available to download free of charge at his own site here.