Sunday, July 31, 2022

July 2022 Reading Highlights Include New and Old Favorites


I managed to get away for two weeks in mid-July, a road trip through parts of Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Iowa that I explored for the first time. All in all, I drove just over 4,400 miles but, thanks largely in part to audiobooks, I still managed to read ten books during the month. I find that I more easily absorb audiobooks of the mystery/spy thriller type, so my July reading largely reflects that: 

  1. Devil's Peak - Deon Meyer - Benny Griessel #1 - South African
  2. Blank Pages - Bernard MacLaverty - 12 memorable short stories from an excellent Irish author
  3. Thirteen Hours - Deon Meyer - Benny Griessel #2 - Two American teens run for their lives in South Africa
  4. The Trawlerman - William Shaw - Alex Cupidi #5
  5. Back of Beyond - C.J. Box - Standalone set in Yellowstone
  6. The Ranger - Ace Atkins - Introduces the Quinn Colson series
  7. Seven Days - Deon Meyer - Benny Griessel series #3
  8. Cobra - Deon Meyer - Benny Griessel series #4
  9. The Splendid and the Vile - Erik Larson - WWII history (1942) focusing on Churchill, Hitler, Goring, and Roosevelt
  10. The Bomb Maker - Thomas Perry - crazy bomb-maker tries to wipe out entire LAPD bomb squad
My newest "favorite" writer is South Africa's Deon Meyer, whose books are translated into English from the original Afrikaans. I read the first four books in Meyer's Benny Griessel series, and I highly recommend them to fans of the police procedural genre. The books have a great feel for what life must have been like in South Africa soon after all the big political changes impacted that country - especially what happened inside the big police departments there. 

The old favorites I revisited this month were Ace Atkins (finally read the first Quinn Colson novel), William Shaw, and Erik Larson (finally read the remarkable The Splendid and the Vile). In addition, I read the relatively disappointing Back of Beyond by C.J. Box and the wonderful The Bomb Maker by Thomas Perry, an author I'm appreciating more every time I read something of his. 

I'm not sure where my reading will lead me next month, but I find myself wanting to spend some time reading books on 19th century American history, along with revisiting some of the classics from the likes of Austen and the Brontes. I've purchased four books in the six-book set by Andrews McMeel Publishing that includes beautiful new editions of Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, and Little Women. Each of the books is illustrated by Marjolein Bastin and include realistic facsimile inserts true to the period and story. Bottom line is that the books are all so beautiful that I consider them to be individual pieces of art. 

Let's see what happens.

24 comments:

  1. Nice to have these books in your collection.

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  2. The picture doesn't do them justice. They are really a quality product and the inserts add to the pleasure of the novel itself. I may break down and buy the other two at some point, even though Little Women seems like an odd choice for a set that is otherwise completely British.

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    1. Hi Sam, they do look like beautiful books. I myself have been collecting a few Wordsworth Classic Novels. They are nice looking books although no illustrations. They are very affordable too. If you are looking for a book on 19th Century American History might I suggest American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever. Read it recently and posted a review. Its a group biography of Thoreau, Alcott, Hawthorne, Emerson and Fuller who all lived near each other in Concord MA from the 1840's to 1860's. I really enjoyed it and all 5 of these writers were not only neighbors but friends, involved in each other's lives.

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    2. I love that period and have an interest in their relationship, find it fascinating that they were neighbors and knew each other so well. I'll be sure to look into that one, thanks. I don't know anything about the Wordsworth Classics, but several people have mentioned them lately, and now I'm curious.

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  3. Hi, Sam! Your road trip sounds like a lot of fun. I managed a very quick road trip to Wyoming and Montana back in June. It was my first time in Montana and I totally loved it; I think I could happily live there. And Deon Meyer must be good seeing how many of his books you read in just one month. Happy reading and revisiting those classics! :D

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    1. I really enjoyed the trip, my third one in the last four years to that part of the country. There is just so much to see there that a person can't get it all done in one or two trips. I would love to live up there...but I'm afraid I wouldn't make it through the first winter. :-)

      Deon Meyer is absolutely excellent, Lark, and his Benny Griessel character is unforgettable. South Africa makes for a fascinating setting.

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  4. Those books are just beautiful!! I've never seen them before and would love to have several on my shelf. Maybe I'll drop some hints around the holidays. Sounds like an excellent road trip... lots of miles traveled! I have a 4+ hour drive to see my parents tomorrow and am looking forward to some audiobook time. Glad you finally got to read The Splendid and the Vile. Larson is so talented... that one one of my favorites a couple of years ago. Happy August!

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    1. It took me a while to get into the Larson book, but once I did it turned into a real page-turner. It was fascinating to watch Churchill and Roosevelt trying to "play" each other and do what was best for their individual countries. Erik Larson is just an excellent writer.

      I hope the drive went well and that you got some quality audiobook time in the process. I would have never been able to drive all those miles without the Deon Meyer audiobooks I listened to.

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  5. Love the sound of your road trip, Sam. Those states would be like a dream come true for me. I've seen those new editions of classics on Youtube and thought they were stunning. Marjolin Bastin is Dutch I think and I love her very delicate artwork... I have a couple of small books of her work which I picked up in The States. So nice to see this post from you.

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    1. The trip was wonderful, Cath. If you guys get back to the US sometime, I highly recommend that you spend some time in that part of the country. I know you'd love the experience; it's absolutely beautiful up there.

      The books illustrated by Bastin are really something. I love seeing them on the shelf, and can't wait to read one of them. That will hopefully happen later this month when I finish up a couple of things. Great hearing from you again.

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  6. That classic (and others I'm sure) look enviable. I am looking forward to some classics come fall. Your road trip sounded great - did you visit friends and family along the way or visit some tourist haunts. I do love audios when traveling by car long distances. Thomas Perry is an author I'd like to read more of, I was happy with the few books that I tried previously. Have a good August Sam.

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    1. Diane, I visited places like the Badlands National Park, the George Washington Carver birthplace, several old calvary forts that were used during the "Indian Wars," the John Wayne birthplace and museum, Bill Cody's farm and home that he used after the touring season was done for the year, and some museums and bookstores. Just kind of wandered around learning what was out there as I came upon it.

      Thomas Perry is an excellent novelist, I think. His thrillers do a much better job with characters and their relationships than most thriller writers do for readers. I haven't read a whole lot of his work...and now have a bunch of books to look forward to. Have a great month, Diane.

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    2. Sam, the places you visited sound fascinating and glad you had some good audios to pass the driving time.

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  7. So good to see your list of books read and your opinions of them. Now you are making want to find some of the Benny Griessel books by Meyer. I have read his first book, Dead Before Dying, but nothing else yet.

    I am still far behind on the books by William Shaw. I have enjoyed and admired several books by Thomas Perry.

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    1. Benny Griessel is very real and believable to me, Tracy, and I am looking forward to getting back to them. I think you'll like the way his relationships with his kids and wife evolve over time. He's an easy guy to root for despite all his problems.

      I've just about caught up on the Shaw books now, but do have a whole bunch of Thomas Perry to explore yet. Isn't it great how we can "discover" "new" writers to get excited about just about every month? Reading just never gets old.

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  8. Wow it's great you got in your road trip again. It seemed extensive - good places to explore. I haven't gotten to Larson's Vile book yet -- how good is it would you say? Super interesting? Did you listen to it on audio or read the print copy? His In the Garden of the Beasts book I thought was pretty phenomenal ... and the subject matter was unreal ... dealing with the Nazis. Hope your summer is wonderful

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    1. I really got lucky on the road trip timing; everything fell into place all of a sudden to let me get away for two weeks and I jumped at the chance.

      Erik Larson is a gifted nonfiction writer and The Splendid and the Vile is no exception. I did have a harder time than usual getting into this one of his, but about a third of the way in it clicked for me and I couldn't wait to get back to it every day. I think you'll like this one.

      We're sort of hold our breaths down here for the brunt of hurricane season which is approaching quickly. The extra-warm waters in the Gulf make it likely that this will be a storm-filled 6-8 weeks coming up. Have a great rest of summer!

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  9. I'm slightly envious of your road trip. I feel glued to the property here!

    I've been a fan of Deon Meyer for quite awhile now. His books really give readers a feel for life in South Africa.

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    1. It was great to be on the road for two weeks, Cathy, and I really enjoyed it. Didn't expect it to happen for me this year, but when it suddenly looked doable, I jumped all ove it.

      Deon Meyer is really good and I love the Benny Griessel character. I'm planning to read a book from another series of his before the month is over; curious to see how they compare.

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  10. Sam! When you stopped posting on FB, I got out of the habit of reading Book Chase because I would click over from there. The other day I was thinking about you because I had a book story I thought you might be interested in (which I can't remember at all now), and it finally occurred to me that I could just come here without FB. I'm going to go down a black hole reading all the posts I've missed for so long. But, I got here just in time because I LOVE the fact that you're thinking about reading some Austen. Though I'm afraid to hear what you say about it.

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  11. Annie, what a nice surprise to hear from you today. It's been way too long. Unfortunately, I've had to drastically curtail the amount of time I spend on posting here...and everywhere else, for that matter. I have some personal responsibilities that take up much of my time these days, so I've had to learn to adjust to a whole new time schedule. I do try to post here once a month now, but just a recap of my month's reading. That allows me to keep in touch with some of the people I've known for so long and whose company I so much enjoy. So I'm happy to see you again.

    I've read all but a couple of Austen's novels in the past, so this will likely be a re-read of one or two I've already read. I enjoy them if I don't overdo it.

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