Funny you should ask that! I've just been lent 7 books, most collectors items, on the Eagles of Scotland, (Golden and Sea Eagle). One includes diaries from the 1910s written by egg collectors! Fascinating stuff but not easy reading. No help with the Work in Progress, but a great help for my planned trip to photograph eagles in May. What about you Katie?
Ooh, eagles! I see they are talking of reintroducing a few pairs into Cumbria. Heading up the M6 on Christmas Day, round J38, a buzzard was sitting there, just as calm and watchful as you like, right there on the fence on the verge of the motorway. Not an eagle, of course, but pretty impressive.
Reading: mixed reviews of this...my ma is a huge fan but says his 'voice' is not 'there' in this book as in his novels, but next thing I am going to read will probably be The Outsider by Frederick Forsyth.
To read/re-read in 2018...The Peregrine! JA Baker!
I tried to re-read The Peregrine recently, but found it too flowery for my 21st century taste. I loved it when I was young and fascinated by all things hawk - especially TH White's The Goshawk. Thinking about it, Helen Macdonald is probably the sanest of the great writers on the subject. I don't count James Macdonald Lockhart, excellent craftsman though he is, because he has insider knowledge, being an agent as well as writer - very sane though.
On average, I read 250 novels annually. About half are in my chosen writing genre of crime, but I deliberately plunder the classics as well as more recently published works. I tend to be suspicious about bestsellers that are hyped to the heavens, preferring to allow a little time to pass before tackling them. In 2017, I found that some deserved the praise they received, such as George Saunders' Lincoln In The Bardo and Francis Spufford's Golden Hill, while others such as Paula Hawkin's Girl On A Train were triumphs of marketing (and title choice) over literary content.
Along these churlish lines, I had a horrible thought—that makes me feel nauseous every time I contemplate it—that, instead of reading the finest writing, I should force myself to read best-selling crap by James Patterson, Dan Brown and Lee Child. I'd do so, to work out what it is about their simplistic writing that appeals so much to readers, in an effort to become successful myself. One thing I already know is that they can be read by a ten-year-old, for the vocabulary is so basic. When the longest word in a thriller is Kalashnikov, to describe the make of assault rifle, then you know the book is dumbed down!
As a way of avoiding the embarrassment of having such dross on my library borrowing record, I could certainly find these bestsellers on the shelves of the local charity shop, which are groaning under their weight!
Well, it's OK, Paul. Just studying the market H is for Hawk. Really sorry to say, Richard if you liked it, and many absolutely loved it, I know, and I saw that recent programme, her with her new hawk, but I could not shake off the feeling it was all about her, and that was the truth behind it, where Baker had left me in no doubt, it was about the birds. And the truth of humanity and what has been lost. H is for Hawk put me in mind of my grandmother, a herpetologist who did truly care most passionately for toads and frogs, and did them good, too, but who also took a grass snake on the bus in her handbag. Made the papers of course, but the snake ended up dead in consequence, and Mabel the hawk was given away and died. Unlucky. Gavin Maxwell, there was another unlucky one. No-one's 'fault' but the otters did not fare well. But I will see whether I feel differently, whether that poetic prose will now put me off on a re-reading. Tastes and ideas can change.
Just to read more. I have stacks of books to work through, and its very much a case of just taking the next one off the pile, but I have promised myself 'The Leopard' by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa as my Dalmatian reading project. Heard great things about it and it strikes me as a book best read with a foreign sun on my face.
I plan on staying away from the dismal news -- which means staying offline -- and reading more. Also, turning in books to the used bookstore which will certainly be disappearing soon. If I'm honest, there are some books I bought simply because they had a pretty cover or I liked the font.
I'm currently trying to read another Sarah Maas novel, trying to figure out why her books are so popular. I was unimpressed by the one I read previously (it was okay, but at the end, I didn't feel compelled to read the next book in the series), and the current one has more plot holes than a sieve...If my current disgruntled state is any indication, @Paul Whybrow, I think you should steer clear of the dross, for your own mental health.
A shiny new wish-list for 2018. My new eerie short fiction [crush] writer is David Hayden (Darker with the Lights On) and I'm crazy about Eley Williams' Attrib. And Other Stories since reading one of her polymorphic pieces in White Review.
Pieter Van den Broecke’s Journals to Cape Verde, Guinea and Angola (1605-12). Mohsan Hamid's Exit West. Elizabeth Strout, a new discovery. An armful of South African fiction, of course: Harry Kalmer's A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg; Marcus Louw's Asylum; Mohale Mashigo's The Yearning; Olive Schreiner's Story of an African Farm (to reread), Masande Ntshanga's The Reactives. From Angola, Creole by Jose Eduardo Agualusa, translated by the amazing Daniel Hahn.
In between, more M John Harrison, the late Jenny Diski, Henry James, George Eliot, Joan Didion revisited? Ann Patchett, Sarah Hall, Andy Weir's sci-fi Artemis, Nicole Krauss' Forest Dark, on the radar for a while now. Not sure I'm ready for another glut of Knausgaard in Autumn.
For fiction research, some Shakespeare (Winter's Tale, King Lear). Alice Munro for the umpteenth time. More Simenon. Masses of non-fiction: political, historical, botanical, encryption, spy sagas, astrology, grimoires, cookbooks. And no doubt, the trawling through small bookshops and secondhand book stores and the local library will bring up more irresistibles.