So ... what are you reading, guys, and is it something you'd recommend to the world?
I must confess to feeling like lighter reads at the moment. For me that usually means non-fiction. And I find it easier to take my book out of the house than to be distracted by things I need to do at home.
Today I had a lovely long lunch at the P.J. Hilton with the excellent company of Elizabeth Gilbert. Or at least her book Eat, Pray, Love.
It was actually my Christmas tree present from someone in our book club, and perhaps not something I'd have otherwise chosen for myself - a travel book as much about an internal journey for healing in the aftermath of a painful divorce and a failed love affair, as it is about the places she visited.
Structured to resemble a string of prayer beads, the books falls into three sections of 36 chapters each. She takes a year out of her life spending four months each in Italy (to enjoy a love affair with the language and enjoy the best of the food); India (where she confronts inner demons in an ashram); and Bali, Indonesia (where she plans to spend time with a traditional healer ... except that life seems to have other plans for her).
Sure, Gilbert is a bit of a flake sometimes, but she is very good company warm and funny, and actually pretty wise. Although she doesn't get to see an awful lot of each country (in India she never leaves the ashram, and in Bali it's only at the end of her stay that she leaves Ubud to see the beaches!), the real pleasure is in her descriptions of the characters she meets and the conversations she has. She's willing to open her heart and learn, willing to bend down to listen.
I enjoyed the Bali section the best as she lands up in Ubud which is of course a place I know well, and I think she describes it with clear insight, including her observations about the expat community.
Anyway, I look forward to the next journey she takes me on, and will also be slipping copies of this book to a few friends I know will enjoy it.
I'm also reading The Collected Poetry of Dorothy Parker - another book which fell into my hands serendipitously. This scruffy old volume (1931!), ex-library, and broken spined, was rescued from a flea market by a friend who always brings me scavenged books. She's more than a little bit wicked, and her little verses, which look so tame and domestic at first, really do bite back. I should though slip this copy in the microwave, I think, as I'm sure there are all kinds of microbes hanging out among the pages.
My next read is Child 44 by Tom Rob-Smith. Our book club members chose it and I have barely a week to get through it now. I did begin it and got mightily put off by a cat being hunted for food when I think one of the starving humans should have sacrificed his body for the sake of the rest and let the moggy be! (I really am going to set up that Society for the Prevention of Cruetly to Fictional Cats.) Am not overly impressed with the writing - it's a bit simplified reader, and just hope the plot makes up for it. Even a few pages in I'm quite shocked that this made the Booker shortlist - where got standard lah?
Still, will try to read with an open heart and let you know how it goes.
So over now to you guys! Make me jealous.