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October 30th, 2009

A few years ago, shortly before I began bookblogging, I read and totally loved Mary Gentle's Ash. More recently, I was rather disappointed with her 1610. I'm afraid that White Crow was more towards the 1610 end of the scale. It brings together three short stories about her protagonists Valentine and Casaubon, and three novels, Rats and Gargoyles, Left to his Own Devices and The Architecture of Desire. Most of the stories are set in varyingly 17th or 18th century milieux, with a heavy admixture of Hermetic magic. I am afraid the only one I really liked was the exception to this setting, the near-future cyberpunkish Left to his Own Devices; the rest all lost me somewhere between the showing and the telling. I guess they are of interest as rehearsals for Ash, but I couldn't really recommend them.

Unread books from 2005

Back in late 2005, I entered all the books on our shelves into LibraryThing, and tagged 133 of them as "unread", ie hoping that I would read them some day. Well, that day has arrived; I have read 122 of them, and will not read the other 11. (Why not? Well, three were ebooks on my Palm T|X when it finally gave up the ghost - I think they were all short stories or extracts anyway, so probably shouldn't have counted. Two of them I just can't find, but will read if they ever show up. Three are from series of books that I do not feel I need to rea any more of - the Alexander McCall Smith books, and E.E. 'Doc' Smith's Lensman books. Two I gave up on before starting, when I realised that they were academic works too specialised for my tastes or interest. And one I realised I had in fact already read.)

Of the 122 which I have in fact read, I got through 41 in 2006, 39 in 2007, 24 in 2008 and the last 18 in 2009. (Those figures include 10 that I started but gave up on.) The full list, with font size adjusted for how much I liked them, is as follows:
122 books which I did readCollapse )
   
11 books that I didn't readCollapse )

There are currently 15 books on my shelf tagged "unread" and acquired during the calendar year 2006, mostly sf anthologies (listCollapse )). Will report back when I have finished them.
I have to say that I don't quite get Wuthering Heights. Yes, I suppose the destructive psychological relationship between Heathcliff and the elder Cathy is rather grimly fascinating, as is a train crash; but that takes up only the second quarter of the book. There are elements which are difficult to accept for today's reader - the appearance of Cathy's ghost at the beginning, the almost nonchalant violence perpetrated by Heathcliff throughout. The descriptive passages, both of the human relationships and of the natural environment, are vivid and memorable, but I find the repeating pattern of destructive and inescapable family relationships rather depressing and, frankly, not terribly interesting.

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