NWR What are we reading thread?

A 6 year old of my acquaintance is completely potty about the books by David Walliams. Grandpa's Great Escape. the intriguingly titled Gangsta Granny and There's a Snake in My School, and others. Also the Roald Dahl collection (15 books) can often be picked up off Amazon for around £20 which is remarkable, really
 
I also tend to have at least one fiction and one non-fiction on the go at a time - sometimes I think too many...
Now I've got down to London I can pick up the book I was part-way through when lockdown hit but left in the wrong place...
Lenin on the Train by Catherine Merridale - it actually covers rather more than just the journey, and she has clearly read lots of the original sources; I'm finding it fascinating...
 
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Lenin on the Train by Catherine Merridale - it actually covers rather more than just the journey, and she has clearly read lots of the original sources; I'm finding it fascinating...

I read this last year. Quite excellent. Really captures the mood of the times.

Currently I'm reading Tangerine by Christine Mangan. About a woman who goes to Tangier to visit an old college friend, who isn't all that pleased to see her. The friend's husband disappears and the visitor gets chatted up by a stranger who offers to show her around the city. I'm not sure what happens next.
 
Patrick Searle’s excellent biography of Syria’s President Asad (the elder). Written over 30 years now, but like all the best historical biographies provides real insight into the country and the region, as well as the man.
 
The works of Geronimo Stilton, Roald Dahl and Anthony Horowitz come highly recommended.

I have been really enjoying Horowitz' non-Alex Rider stuff. Moriarty was great.

At present, I am rereading A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, which is just as wonderful a I remember it being 15 years ago.
 
I write stories for my kids - some are quick 10 min jobs, others are 30,000 word peices of work. So, this weekend read to my kids the final 3 chapters of a story called "The mysterious Gazelle" (the titlle was provided by my daughter 12 months back, I then had to come up with the rest!!.

Also did a rather macabre story called called "Mr Snuggles". Even the parents were freaked out by the end - the kids loved it. "Unsettling" was what my wife called it.
 
"They offered him the best black wine from the college vineyards: but He preferred a student's little cruet of red, a coarse wine with some body and no bouquet whatever - an unsophisticate wine such as Fabrizio Colonna might have used at the end of the fifteenth century."

Reading 'Hadrian the Seventh'. An utterly mad book. Can anyone tell me what he meant by black wine?
 
I think it must be the legendary Falernian, my immediate thoughts of Cahors and Priorat being obviously wrong.
I spent about quarter of century believing that AJA Symons' The Quest for Corvo' was a work of fiction.
 
It was in order to read Symons that I am working through Hadrian!

From the inside front cover: "His relations with his publishers and friends, on whose beneficence he relied, were frequently fractious, and he died poor at his preferred restaurant in Venice."
 
I'm trying to remember how I became interested in Symons, I think there was a Sorabji connection.
If you are fascinated by mad Englishmen of the period you might do worse than to investigate the composer Kaikhosru Sorabji, from Bombay by way of Ilford. The lack of any particular enthusiasm for music is in no sense whatever a barrier to an appreciation of his work and indeed it can certainly be argued that listening to it is not its best use, though it has always exercised upon me an unhealthy fascination.
 
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In a Waugh rereading phase here, just finished A Handful of Dust and onto Vile Bodies. Cruelty, humour, beauty, satire, they have everything for me. Wodehouse and Waugh are my top two for total, if slightly different pleasures!
 
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Finished a lockdown project a couple of days ago - War and Peace. It took four months but then again I have two small kids, so it’s not too bad going. I discovered at the end that there was a summary of every chapter that was only twenty pages long - think of the time I could have saved!

I enjoyed it. Definitely prefer Leo when he’s capturing the feel of a 19th century military battle over his pontificating about history and historiography though.
 
I'm trying to remember how I became interested in Symons, I think there was a Sorabji connection.
If you are fascinated by mad Englishmen of the period you might do worse than to investigate the composer Kaikhosru Sorabji, from Bombay by way of Ilford. The lack of any particular enthusiasm for music is in no sense whatever a barrier to an appreciation of his work and indeed it can certainly be argued that listening to it is not its best use, though it has always exercised upon me an unhealthy fascination.
Hadrian and A Quest For Corvo are both remarkable books. If you are interested in mad Englishmen consider The Professor And The Madman, regarding the making of the Oxford English Dictionary.
 
Finished a lockdown project a couple of days ago - War and Peace. It took four months but then again I have two small kids, so it’s not too bad going. I discovered at the end that there was a summary of every chapter that was only twenty pages long - think of the time I could have saved!

I enjoyed it. Definitely prefer Leo when he’s capturing the feel of a 19th century military battle over his pontificating about history and historiography though.

Agree with most of this. But despite those weird history musings it's at times a wonderful comic novel and at times a truly great historical novel. Which translation did you read? The translators mean a lot! I like it so much I've read it twice. Once in Finnish in a translation by Esa Adrian whose translations from Russian are magic; and once in English by Pevear & Volokhonsky. P&V do pretty good translations of the major Russian classics IMO but I do find myself going back to Adrian again and again. A pity most on this forum can't enjoy those! :D

Tolstoi's novellas are hugely underrated IMO. P&V's translations of Hadji Murat and Death of Ivan Ilyich are great IMO. But maybe that's just my fascination with the Caucasus region clouding my judgement.
 
Just finished The Testaments by Margaret Atwood - completely glued to this book all the way through. I recall reading The Handmaiden's Tale years ago was blown away by the pure, unremitting misery of the book and the incredible distopia she had created.
 
Talking of not finishing books, has anyone finished one by Philip Roth? I've read a few - The Human Stain, American Pastoral and something else - and I couldn't finish them. I know someone who once described reading a Roth novel as 'like having someone sitting on your face and refusing to get off'. I think it sums him up fairly well.
 
Which translation did you read? The translators mean a lot! I like it so much I've read it twice. Once in Finnish in a translation by Esa Adrian whose translations from Russian are magic; and once in English by Pevear & Volokhonsky. P&V do pretty good translations of the major Russian classics IMO but I do find myself going back to Adrian again and again. A pity most on this forum can't enjoy those! :D

I also read the P&V version. I understand that they’re pretty controversial, receiving a fair amount of criticism for being too literal and clunky. I enjoyed the prose most of the time, but I did wonder if more than one word was being translated as “merry”, as it cropped up repeatedly, often in quite strange contexts!
 
Talking of not finishing books, has anyone finished one by Philip Roth? I've read a few - The Human Stain, American Pastoral and something else - and I couldn't finish them. I know someone who once described reading a Roth novel as 'like having someone sitting on your face and refusing to get off'. I think it sums him up fairly well.
I have read most of them. At his peak he is a deeply insightful observer and commentator on life. Few writers present irony as well as Roth does. His writing is direct, honest and funny.
 
For what must be the tenth time in my life I am rereading Simon Raven's wonderful 'Alms For Oblivion' sequence. Each time I do it I am amazed by Raven's Trollopean perspicacity and pertinence but never have Raven's characters seemed so emulated in modern life as they are currently. Enthralling stuff though from this distance I fear that it has been rather a bad influence on me since encountering 'Places Where They Sing' at the Paddington Station bookstore at the age of 12, attracted by the salacious cover illustration. Highly recommended to all connoisseurs of moral depravity.
I've always been surprised that Raven hasn't been more popular, particularly given that his books are almost ready made for the television adaptation at which he himself excelled so greatly, but those who like him like him a lot, almost to the extent of forgiving the abysmal 'First Born of Egypt' sequel.
 
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