Books read in May and June.

My reading has slowed right down since those first heady days of lockdown, when I was grabbing anything and everything I could get my hands on. Not a huge amount read in the last couple of months though…

The Spy Who Came in from the cold – John Le Carre ( 1963). Classic British spy novel that I didn’t warm to at all. Set in the cold war ,the plot revolves around agent Alec Lemas as he is sent on one final assignment. He will have to seemingly betray his country in order to turn a high powered German intelligence officer. I just didn’t like any of the characters enough to care much about what happened to them. ⭐⭐

The Bookseller ~ Cynthia Swanson ( 2015). Kitty Miller lives a happy but unconventional life running a book shop with her friend Frieda in 1962. She’s unmarried, has her own flat and a gorgeous cat , she’s quite content with her lot in life. Then one night she has a dream and finds herself happily married, a mother of three children and living in a huge house in the suburbs. Soon the dreams become a regular thing and Kitty starts to enjoy this alternative reality , where her name is Katharyn and it’s 1963. I really enjoyed this story which is reminiscent of the film Sliding Doors. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Italian Shoes ~ Henning Mankell ( 2009). Initially I thought this was going to be a Scandinavian crime novel, as it is written by the author of the Wallander series. However there is no crime, just a cranky old man who lives a solitary existence on a remote island. One day he receives a surprise ( and a little unwelcome ) visitor from his past, who forces him to face up to things he would rather forget. A physical and emotional journey is undertaken. A slow thought provoking read. ⭐⭐⭐

Last Breath ~ Karin Slaughter ( 2017). This novella is actually a prequel and introduction to a main character in Slaughters detective novel ‘ The Good Daughter’ which I haven’t read. Charlie Quin is a lawyer who finds herself drawn to a young teenager, who like herself lost her mother at a young age. But are things all they seem with her young client, and how far will Charlie go to protect her. ⭐⭐⭐

I’ll Keep You Safe – Peter May ( 2018). Peter May weaves his love of the Islands of Harris and Lewis into another Hebridean detective yarn. This time there is a murder in Paris and a back story set in a close knit but wary Scottish community. There are two female protagonists and not everyone gets their happy ending. A slow burner of a read. ⭐⭐⭐

Although I didn’t read much throughout May and June, I did have a second hand book stall outside the house to raise money for the NHS. We managed to raise £80. Hugo looks like he’s helping in the above photo, in reality he just barked at any passing pooch, which was a bit off putting. Haha, oh well!

Read anything good recently?

33 thoughts on “Books read in May and June.”

  1. I’ve got half a dozen books waiting to be read but for some strange reason I can’t settle to reading any of them at the moment. A friend recently gave me The Essex Serpent as she had mistakenly bought two copies at some time but I doubt I’ll ever read it as it’s set in the late 1890s and I’m not keen on anything set later back than the 1950s. The latest one I’ve bought is a modern day sequel to one I’ve already got so I’ll probably read that before any of the others.

  2. I am inspired to read The Bookseller and the Henning Mankel – like you I would have expected the Mankel to be his usual Scandi Noir! Might make a nice change.

  3. I rarely almost never- read a fiction book, I did not realise until my early 20s that I was Dyslexic. I use reference books all the time but I can not manage fiction. I do enjoy fiction but for me, I have to hear it on an audiobook. Great result with your book stall.

  4. Love Hugo manning the second hand bookstall. Well done Hugo for raising £80 for the NHS. 🐶 Read? Brain not functioning for reading just now!

  5. We’ve got a bookstall in much the same way, although ours is raising money for our son’s trip to a Scout Jamboree in Bangladesh at the end of 2021 (fingers-crossed).
    I haven’t read any of these books, so I shall look out for them. Oh – except the Le Carre, a long time ago. I periodically try one of his books, because they are so universally acclaimed, but I’ve often found them quite confusing.

    1. That’s cool, I know a few parents kids whose trips have been cancelled this year, which they had been raising money for. Hopefully your son’s still has chance of going ahead.
      No I wasn’t keen on The Spy , I found it confusing. My other half liked it though.

      1. Yes, sadly S was due to go to China in a week or two with school because he has been learning Mandarin, and A was going to a jamboree on Poland, both now cancelled. It’s been good that they both have other trips planned, but if they get cancelled in turn…

      2. I hope they don’t. Still, I don’t feel like going abroad myself. I only just got my going abroad mojo back last year ( I’m not fond of flying) but now its definitely gone again. :/

  6. Well done on your reading, which is better than me, having read only a few gardening books. Good of you to have a book sale & Hugo at least didn’t put off anybody wanting to buy. Take care, stay safe & huggles.

  7. Have you read Henning Mankell’s “Depths”, another one of his novels NOT about Wallander? The Guardian review says “Even by Scandinavian standards, Depths is a fabulously gloomy book…all ice and barrenness.” Although there is a crime, this is not a whodunnit but rather an examination of the forces that drove a sad, obsessive man to finally cross the line. Interesting read, with added insights into Sweden’s attitude to World War 1…should they stay neutral or enter the conflict, and if the latter which side should they back?

  8. Like a lot of people, apparently, I’ve not settled to much reading unless you can count my 100 Times Crosswords compendium. Normally I have a few books on the go so this is a strange phenomenum. Strange times.
    Right at the start of lockdown I re-read Travels with Charley by Steinbeck, his ’60s non fiction story of testing himself on a long road trip through America with his poodle Charley as companion. You would enjoy it.
    Rather than reading I’ve been accessing the multitude of full length videos which have become freely avaianle on line, mainly climbing and walking subjects.
    From there I branched out to podcast interviews and the last few nights have started watching an excellent selection of Alan Bennett’s monologues on iplayer https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08ftkkx/episodes/player
    A lazy way to entertain myself.

  9. I read Mankell’s After the fire, also not a detective story and I enjoyed it. I shall try Italian shoes now, when libraries re-open. I have onle read one Le Carre and found it scary and no the characters weren’t nice. I think you have read lots, better than the just two managed last month. Just saw the Steinbeck recommended- anything by him is brilliant I reckon. I enjoyed your reviews here.

  10. Well done on raising £80. That’s brilliant! I’ve read Italian shoes. I remember it being very dark and a bit too slow and feeling rather unsatisfied at the end. Do you think you didn’t enjoy le carre because it’s aged? I remember him being really popular back in the cold war days and I remember my parents watching the the TV series – but I found it boring – although that may have been the age I was at the time.

  11. I’ve not read any of these. I’ve never wanted to read Le Carre – apparently they are all being reissued in beautiful hardbacks, and one of our friends is buying them and reading them in order. He once recommended a book to me that I didn’t like at all so I think that supports my opinion that I wouldn’t enjoy Le Carre! The only book I finished in June was Angie Cruz: Dominicana, about a young woman emigrating to the US in the early 60s. It was our bookgroup choice and quite good, though not as good as the fact that it’s shortlisted for the Women’s Prize would suggest.

    1. I liked the Little Drummer Girl adaptation on TV a couple of years ago. But no I haven’t read any books of his except The Spy who came in from the cold and it didn’t grip me. X

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