Contributor: Gordon Bunting
I read quite a lot in normal times and so I think my reading consumption has not much changed in terms of quantity, nor have I switched to non-traditional formats. I have however taken the opportunity to finish some books long started and to make very serious inroads into that pile of books still waiting to be read. Genre has not much changed, no sudden need for spiritual consolation or self-help, romantic fiction or sporting biographies. I have steered away from pandemic themes but escapism has not really featured any more than usual among my choices. I would say I have a fairly catholic taste when it comes to books both fiction and non-fiction. My reading selection starts from a number of sources: suggestions from friends, serendipity, familiar authors or interesting themes. Reviews and media references often send me in search of a book too.
“The Mystery of Angelina Frood” by R. Austin Freeman
Written in the late 1920s, this book is an example of crime fiction written in a style not uncommon then but now largely extinct. Bursting with moral judgement, social class and the mores of the era, very precisely crafted and set in the Medway Towns.
“Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout
The book that introduced me to the exceptional talent of Elizabeth Strout. Set around the difficult personality of the protagonist in a small town in Maine.
“The City and the City” by China Miéville
Miéville’s books can be off-putting but this one is simply a good read with a twist.
“Precious Bane” by Mary Webb
An old Virago Modern Classic found a while back in a charity book sale and waiting to be read. Set in early 19th century rural Shropshire and a real gem.
“Oil, Power and War: A Dark History” (“Or noir”) by Matthieu Auzanneau
A great brick of a book, designed to teach you more about the rise and subsequent development of the oil industry than you ever realised you had yet to learn. It is a tale of criminality, corruption, greed and dishonesty from start to finish, not lacking in shock value. A very well researched and presented treasure trove, it merits every minute vested in its reading.