Sunday, January 03, 2010

December Reading Round Up

A castle in Spain / Matthew Parris.
The story of one man's dream to transform a forgotten ruin into his very own 'castle in Spain'. ~from the blurb
Parris writes about the restoration of a ruined house he discovers in Catalonia.  Enjoyed reading about the history of the house and the struggles they have to go through to get it restored.

The Lieutenant / Kate Grenville.
In 1787 Lieutenant Thomas Rooke sets sail from Portsmouth with the First Fleet and its cargo of convicts, destined for New South Wales. As a young officer and a man of science, the shy and quiet Rooke is full of anticipation about the natural wonders he might discover in this strange land on the other side of the world. After the fleet arrives in Port Jackson, Rooke sets up camp on a rocky and isolated point, and starts his work of astronomy and navigation. It's not too long before some of the Aboriginal people who live around the harbour pay him a visit. One of them, a girl named Tarunga, starts to teach him her own language. But her lessons and their friendship are interrupted when Rooke is given an order that will change his life forever. Inspired by the 1790 notebooks of William Dawes in which he recorded his conversations with a young Gadigal woman, The Lieutenant is a story about a man discovering his true self in extraordinary circumstances. ~from the blurb
Particularly liked the contrast of language learning.

A long slow affair of the heart : an adventure on the French canals / Bruce Ansley. 
Craving adventure, Bruce Ansley goes in search of happiness on the French canals. He and his wife Sally buy a canal boat in Holland and sail it through Belgium to France. With humour and a poignantly candid touch, Ansley documents a journey within a journey: the internal shifts of a marriage that just might not make it home. This memoir takes us vividly and unforgettably to France: but it takes us further than that - deep into the winding, secret interior of the heart. ~from the blurb
Think the "deep into the winding, secret interior of the heart" bit of the blurb is a little over statement but I enjoyed the travelogue and experiences the couple go through on their journey. 

Forensic detective : how I cracked the world's toughest cases / Robert Mann and Miryam Ehrlich Williamson.
Case studies from forensic anthropology. True crime, mystery and a bit of gore.. what's not to like?  CSI fans would enjoy this one.  I was particularly interested in the cases where he tries to identify fallen servicemen in places like Korea and Vietnam.

Law breakers & mischief makers : 50 notorious New Zealanders / Bronwyn Sell. 
"Law breakers and mischief makers provides the scandalous details of those who've made a name for themselves in New Zealand for all the wrong reasons. Some are monsters, some are merely rascals but all make fascinating reading." -- Back cover.
Great historical true short stories, true crime and a bit of mischief!  Excellent fun.

Flu : the story of the great influenza pandemic of 1918 and the search for the virus that caused it / Gina Kolata. 
"In 1918 the Great Flu Epidemic felled the young & healthy virtually overnight ... If such a plague returned today, taking a comparable percentage of the US population with it, 1.5 million Americans would die ... unravels the mystery of this lethal virus ... tracks the race to recover the live pathogen & probes the fear that has impelled government policy"--Jacket.
Thought this one was quite topical given the H1N1 pandemic this year.  I always enjoy the history, the discoveries and struggles people go through to find answers.   It's also interesting to see the decisions people make in times of pressure.  I'd love to see an update to this in the light of the outbreak currently raging around the world.  I've read quite a few books this year on diseases and such like, and have a few more waiting to be read.  It's an area I find extremely interesting.

Haven't managed to completely finish the book circle book! 



  1. If I read 3 or 4 books a month I think I am clever so I am veri impressed!