Wednesday, 11 August 2010

What I've been reading

Image of the book cover
The Island
by Victoria Hislop

narrated by Sandra Duncan
"Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother's past, but Sofia has never spoken of it. When Alexis decides to visit Crete, however, Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend and promises that, through her, she will learn more. Arriving in Plaka, Alexis learns that it lies a stone's throw from the deserted island of Spinalonga - Greece's former leper colony. She finds her mother's friend, and hears the tale of her great-grandmother, and her daughters, and a family rent by tragedy, war and passion."
I was lucky with this choice - I didn't have a recommendation and have never read any of her books before. It made me look up the history of leprosy treatment, and didn't get too involved in the business of book-writing, by which I mean that it didn't use suspense as a tool. If the reader needed to know what happened next, it was told next, rather than interspersing two lines of narrative and making you wait. I liked it.

Image of the book cover
The Poison Paradox
by John Timbrell

"From fears of food colouring and pesticides, to industrial accidents and terrorist attack, we are assailed with scare stories about the chemical dangers lurking in our food, our homes, and the environment. The Poison Paradox explores the dark side of chemistry, and provides a lively and rewarding introduction to the science of toxicology."
This is a book that I acquired in return for work done as a member of the Oxford University Press Biosciences Panel. I've had to choose my favourite book cover design, review a couple of books, fill in some surveys about what I find useful in a bioscience textbook, and in return I get credit that I can use to buy OUP books. Given its reputation, I would have expected this OUP book to be better than it was - the writing was very 'clunky', a bit more like lecture notes or a textbook rather than popular science. An interesting subject, despite the less than engaging writing style.

Image of the book cover
Piccadilly Jim
by P. G. Wodehouse

narrated by Jonathan Cecil
"The life of Jimmy Crocker has been little more than one drunken brawl after another. His formidable Aunt Nesta has had enough of his antics and decrees that the young Crocker must be reformed. However, Jimmy has fallen in love and decided to reform himself. Unfortunately, to win the heart of his intended, Jimmy must pretend to be someone else and take part in the kidnapping of Aunt Nesta's loathsome offspring Ogden."
The usual tortuous plot involving a man pretending to be someone else pretending to be him, but I just love the vocabulary. I'd forgive him a pretty weak plot just for using the word 'shrubbery' in the context of a man's facial hair.

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