In the interests of immersion, I've been trying to read a lot more. I was a voracious bookworm until about 3 years ago when I discovered knitting and moved in with my boyfriend when the hours I would sit in silence on the sofa began to feel quite rude...
These days my reading is limited to quiet afternoons and my commute, so I only get through two or three books a month.
On the plus side, this should make monthly book reviews easier to stick to!
The King's Curse by Phillippa Gregory
Philippa Gregory is a favourite of mine. I really love history and getting to enjoy it as a story, rather than dates and facts, is something I really enjoy. I've loved the last few Plantagenet books, so I was a bit sad to be heading back into the company of Henry VIII, who I find frustrating at best (!)
Narrated by Margaret Pole, the Countess of Shrewsbury, the story starts with the marriage of Prince Arthur and the newly arrived Princess Katherine of Aragon and Queen Elizabeth's revelation that she and her mother had cursed the line of the person that killed the young Princes. The story covers decades and at it's best had me flying through the pages, the tension crackled and for the first time, I felt like I could understand the atmosphere at court. I've always wondered why no one ever said anything, why there was never a successful rising against Henry. This book really made me get it. I'm looking forward to reading The Taming of a Queen.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
I realised recently that, while I was familiar with some of Maya Angelou's work, I had never read any of her prose. This is the first of her autobiographies and it is brilliant. Given that everyone already knows that, it's hardly worth saying it. But I sometimes think that when a book is well known and considered 'great', sometimes we don't feel like we need to read it. But I'm so glad I did. Her characters are so lightly drawn, but so much clearer and more full of life for that. It's by turns heart-breaking and hilarious - but it's so direct that you can't do anything but admire the woman's character. Just... brilliant.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
I've only read one other book by Michel Faber - The Crimson Petal and the White which was excellent and I heartily recommend. While The Crimson Petal was set in Victorian England, about a prostitute, The Book is set in an unidentified near future that could uneasily be classed as 'sci-fi'. Minister Father Peter Leigh is chosen for a mission to the planet Oasis, where the native population insist they want to hear the Christian word. So Peter is flung millions of miles across the galaxy, leaving his wife Beatrice behind. It's a pretty long book, but I finished it in three or four days because I simply couldn't put it down. The Oasans are an interesting creation (never too human - my main issue with most sci-fi) and the ending is brilliant.
Right now I'm casting about for a book to read while I wait for Rich to finish A Fine Balance by Rohin Mistry. I think I might check out Dear Leader by Jang Jin-Sung.