GOOD BOOKS FOR YOUR WEEK-END
Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been over a month since my last Good Books For Your Week-end post!
I have been very busy, and I had to catch up with lots of reviews. Now that I am only 4 reviews behind, time tio recommend you some good books out there.
Plus, chances are you are NOT part of the rat race flocking en masse for some shopping deals this week-end, so just go to your library, pick up a few goodies, and relax:
FICTION [Goodreads synopsis, and links to another blogger]
Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino (1972)
In a garden sit the aged Kublai Khan and the young Marco Polo–Tartar emperor and Venetian traveler. Kublai Khan has sensed the end of his empire coming soon. Marco Polo diverts the emperor with tales of the cities he has seen in his travels around the empire: cities and memory, cities and desire, cities and designs, cities and the dead, cities and the sky, trading cities, hidden cities. Soon it becomes clear that each of these fantastic places is really the same place
Lionheart, by Sharon Kay Penman (oct 2011)
They were called “The Devil’s Brood,” though never to their faces. They were the four surviving sons of Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine. With two such extraordinary parents, much was expected of them.
But the eldest-charming yet mercurial-would turn on his father and, like his brother Geoffrey, meet an early death. When Henry died, Richard would take the throne and, almost immediately, set off for the Holy Land. This was the Third Crusade, and it would be characterized by internecine warfare among the Christians and extraordinary campaigns against the Saracens. And, back in England, by the conniving of Richard’s youngest brother, John, to steal his crown.
In Lionheart, Sharon Kay Penman displays her remarkable mastery of historical detail and her acute understanding of human foibles. The result is a powerful story of intrigue, war, and- surprisingly-effective diplomacy, played out against the roiling conflicts of love and loyalty, passion and treachery, all set against the rich textures of the Holy Land.
An Instance of the Fingerpost, by Iain Pears (1997)
We are in Oxford in the 1660s – a time, and place, of great intellectual, scientific, religious and political ferment. Robert Grove, a fellow of New College is found dead in suspicious circumstances. A young woman is accused of his murder. We hear about the events surrounding his death from four witnesses: Marco da Cola, a Venetian Catholic intent on claiming credit for the invention of blood transfusion; Jack Prescott, the son of a supposed traitor to the Royalist cause determined to vindicate his father; John Wallis, chief cryptographer to both Cromwell and Charles II, a mathematician, theologican and inveterate plotter; and Anthony Wood, the famous Oxford antiquary. Each witness tells their version of what happened. Only one reveals the extraordinary truth.
An Instance of the Fingerpost is a magnificent tour de force: an utterly compelling historical mystery story with a plot that twists and turns and keeps the reader guessing until the very last page.
Heresy, by SJ Parris (2010)
I have actually started listening to this one, and it is excellent, with a fabulous narrator.
Giordano Bruno was a monk, poet, scientist, and magician on the run from the Roman Inquisition on charges of heresy for his belief that the Earth orbits the sun and that the universe is infinite. This alone could have got him burned at the stake, but he was also a student of occult philosophies and magic.
In S. J. Parris’s gripping novel, Bruno’s pursuit of this rare knowledge brings him to London, where he is unexpectedly recruited by Queen Elizabeth I and is sent undercover to Oxford University on the pretext of a royal visitation. Officially Bruno is to take part in a debate on the Copernican theory of the universe; unofficially, he is to find out whatever he can about a Catholic plot to overthrow the queen.
His mission is dramatically thrown off course by a series of grisly murders and a spirited and beautiful young woman. As Bruno begins to discover a pattern in these killings, he realizes that no one at Oxford is who he seems to be. Bruno must attempt to outwit a killer who appears obsessed with the boundary between truth and heresy.
Like The Dante Club and The Alienist, this clever, sophisticated, exceptionally enjoyable novel is written with the unstoppable narrative propulsion and stylistic flair of the very best historical thrillers
Books Can Be Deceiving, by Jenn McKinlay (July 2011)
Lindsey is getting into her groove as the director of the Briar Creek Public Library when a New York editor visits town, creating quite a buzz. Lindsey’s friend Beth wants to sell the editor her children’s book, but Beth’s boyfriend, a famous author, gets in the way. When they go to confront him, he’s found murdered-and Beth is the prime suspect. Lindsey has to act fast before they throw the book at the wrong person
NON-FICTION [Goodreads synopsis, and links to another blogger]
Dante in Love, By A.N. Wilson (oct 2011)
In Dante in Love, A. N. Wilson presents a glittering study of an artist and his world, arguing that without an understanding of medieval Florence, it is impossible to grasp the meaning of Dante’s great poem. He explains how the Italian states were at that time locked into violent feuds, mirrored in the ferocious competition between the Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy. He shows how Dante’s preoccupations with classical mythology, numerology, and the great Christian philosophers inform every line of the Comedy.
The Genius in my Basement, by Alexander Masters (september 2011)
A biography of the brilliant mathematician Simon Norton, whose was a maths prodigy and the most promising mathematician of his generation.
On Extinction: How We Became Estranged from Nature, by Melanie Challenger (oct 2011)
How do we think about the things we have lost? How can we use what we know about extinctions – cultural, biological and industrial – to reconnect with nature?In Cornwall, hiking around the half-buried ruins of an old tin mine, Melanie Challenger started to think about the things that have disappeared from our world. When the gigantic bones of mammoths were first excavated from the Siberian permafrost in the eighteenth century, scientists were forced to consider a terrifying possibility: many species that had once flourished on the Earth no longer existed. For the first time, humans had to contemplate the idea of extinction.Challenger became fascinated by this idea, and started to consider how we think about the things we have lost, and, indeed, how we come to lose them. From our destruction of the natural world to the human cultures that are rapidly dying out, On Extinction is a passionate exploration of these disappearances and why they should concern us. Challenger asks questions about how we’ve become destructive to our environment, our emotional responses to extinctions, and how these responses might shape our future relationship with nature. She travels to the abandoned whaling stations of South Georgia, the melting icescape of Antarctica and the Inuit camps of the Arctic, where she traces the links between human activities and environmental collapse. On Extinction is an account of Challenger’s journey that brings together ideas about cultural, biological and industrial extinction in a beautiful, thought-provoking and ultimately hopeful book
Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books, by Maureen Corrigan (2005)
“It’s not that I don’t like people,” writes Maureen Corrigan in her introduction to Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading. “It’s just that there always comes a moment when I’m in the company of others—even my nearest and dearest—when I’d rather be reading a book.” In this delightful memoir, Corrigan reveals which books and authors have shaped her own life—from classic works of English literature to hard-boiled detective novels, and everything in between. And in her explorations of the heroes and heroines throughout literary history, Corrigan’s love for a good story shines