Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Dell Mystery paperbacks

Remember this post? I never got those paperbacks, even though they were lovely. As I wrote in the post, I'm not paying 50 kr for them. That was thinking they were Agatha Christies though. As you can see, the one on the far left is a John Dickson Carr called Death in Five Boxes. Now that one I saw as a possible it turned out, when I went in yesterday just to browse and saw that they still had two books left. They must have had loads in that I just didn't see at the time, but now there were too, this one and a Mary Roberts Rhinehart. Anyway, I decided that ok, I'll splurge on them. Go to the counter and your man says 175 kr please. What? Oh no, that pencilled "50 kr" on the inside isn't from us. Our price is here (pointing) and our price is 80 for the Dickson Carr and 95 for the Rhinehart (I think it was). Good grief. So I said sorry, I'll have to think about it. In my shock I walked out and realised I should have taken new photos of them, because I missed the backs last time - and the backs, my they're so adorable. They have little drawings of the layout of the murder scene and so on. It's all like a lovely vintage Cluedo game. I image-googled quickly and though you can see a lot of examples of the cover art you can't see any back covers, mores the shame. I'm going to see if I can get a photo today. If it's not the same fella behind the counter.

... Hang on now. While I'm writing I'm googling. They're called "mapbacks" apparently. LMGTFY again ... Oh, now I feel foolish. On Wikipedia no less. They are so pretty ... I'll have to think and google and see of they're worth it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Not reading and re-reading

I "read" two books that I gave up on, one Simon Brett (The Murder in the Museum) which was as usual with a Brett mediocre and I have no tolerance for that type of nonsense at the moment so remind me not to bother ever again and am now re-reading Josephine Tey, The Singing Sands. I have a second hand copy with a ludicrous cover, viz.

Love the font, but the picture? Ha. I'll have to get back to a proper post on this, because I checked my archives and I haven't blogged about this one at all. It's worth a post.

Speaking of covers, one of the books I didn't read has a retro-cheesy cover deserving a photo, so I'm going to do a post for it later which is why I didn't bother writing more now.

 Reading Josephine Tey after Simon Brett is like ... like ... a drink of water when you're thirsty, if you'll excuse a worn metaphor. Such a difference in depth of writing. Brett must assume all his readers are pretty much illiterate. (I'm feeling snarky.)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jacqueline Winspear: Among the Mad

Took it out of the library on a whim when I borrowed the Flynn book, even though I'm not that keen on the Maisie Dobbs series at all. God, she's so annoyingly perfect. This one is about finding a man threatening to commit some sort of act of biological terrorism, including making profiles and so on way before her time. If Maisie Dobbs could be more of a real person, I'd be very grateful plz thx, also the novels don't have to have such an irritating way of attempting to educate you on a Historical Fact, in this case care of the mentally ill in the 1930s.

Right after this I re-read Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers, and the contrast between the two  doesn't favour Winspear does it. I also had several thoughts about it that I wanted to write down in the blog but couldn't get computer time so now I've forgotten. I hate my life. But I love Gaudy Night.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Gillian Flynn: Dark Place

Come summer Swedish newspapers and magazines that have a literature section/page always have an obligatory "time for crime fiction" feature. Come any holiday, now that I think about it; whenever we have some time off. (Speaking of time off: my new job that I started today doesn't do what we in Swedish call squeeze days, so I won't be getting any more of those lovely long weekends that I feel is AN OFFICE WORKER'S PRIVILEGE. Dammit!) Anyway, this book was mentioned in one of said features recently, and the write-up interested me so I got it from the library. I'm basically avoiding reading Wolf Hall.

This book has been praised for its prose, it's a remarkably literary crime story. When Libby Day was a child her brother murdered her whole family - her mother and two older sisters. Libby's testimony put him in prison. Since then she has lived off money donated by strangers to help the poor orphan, but now that money has run out. Hoping to sell family trifles to crime collectors, she agrees to meet with a group of hobby investigators who believe her brother is innocent. And of course, the question is: if he is innocent - then who killed her family? And will she be in danger looking for the real murderer?

The book starts off really well. It is more a story of Libby's survival than the usual detection stuff, and it's both sad, poignant and bitter. Libby isn't a great person, but who can blame her? Gillian Flynn certainly has a knack for writing a good story. The ending  is a letdown though, it ends up being a case of connecting the dots and tying the knots and ta-daah, all problems are over! I can see this being made into a film soon, but it will be a dull, conventional thing. The book is written alternating chapters between the past and the present, between Libby now and her mother and brother then. This is exactly how it will be filmed one day. If I knew anyone else who'd read it I'd suggest a game of guess the director...

I might read Flynn's other book (books?), because she writes well and describes the Midwest farming society the story is set in just perfectly.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Richard Wrangham: Catching Fire - How Cooking Made Us Human

I was sitting outside with our neighbours one evening the other week, while the kids were playing/whining, and we started talking about books. Mr Neighbour is more of a fact than a fiction reader, and started talking about this book he'd recently read - probably the conversation had turned to Lasse Berg's books? - and he promptly ran up and fetched it for me to read. So I have, although I have been really tired recently and stressed what with working my final days at my old job and fretting about having to learn the ropes of a new one, so I probably haven't done it justice.

Wrangham's hypothesis is that cooking is what made us humans (more specifically evolved us into Homo Erectus). Cooking makes it possible to get more energy out of food with less effort. He cites several studies showing that this is true for both humans and other animals (but we are the only animals that have learned to cook). Drawing parallells to how our present-day close ape relations live, he shows that eating raw food takes an enormous amount of time to both chew and digest, leaving no time for evolving into something smarter. While the traditional idea is that we started to evolve into humans because we started to eat meat, Wrangham writes that raw meat is too energy-consuming to digest for any evolution to happen because of that alone. He also points out that we can thrive on cooked vegetable food alone - on raw food diets though we don't get enough energy. On pure raw food diets humans lose their ability to reproduce, which is not an evolutionary advantage. In other words it must be cooking that is responsible for our development, and we must have tamed fire earlier than has previously been thought.

Very interesting, solid arguments (although I did think he sort of skipped a step at some point or another? but that might have been me being too tired when reading). There's something like 200 pages of text and then 80 of sources. Solid.

However, I will admit that it has mostly convinced me that if maybe I tried a raw food diet I'll lose those surplus ten kilos WIN.