Stack Life, May 3 2019

It occurred to me this week that I misrepresent myself in the reading department. I tell people, because I thought it was true, that I get bored with police procedural series because the y are too formulaic and predictable. There are only so many ways to beat up a bad guy, you know? But I realized recently, that this is not an accurate representation of my reading. I don’t like American police procedurals, but oh-my-word set that story in Britain with a British author and apparently I am unable to resist.

(As an aside, one of my favorite series is also crime series, Louise Penny’s inspector Gamache which is set in Canada and which I would also argue isn’t actually a police procedural but an amaing series of character studies and everyone should read them.)

Recently I watched a couple seasons of DCI Banks on Prime and got hooked. British? yes. Atmopheric? yes. More intellectual crime solving than beat-em-up, shoot-em-up? definitely yes. Basically, it checks all the boxes, so of course, I decided to try the books. Starting with Gallow’s View, this twenty-five (and counting) book series has been a bit slow to start out, but I find that to be true of several longer series. Sometimes it takes a little time to settle the characters and the plot lines.

DCI Banks is a former London detective who moves to the village of Eastvale to get away from the violence and cynicism of urban crime. He lands in a life which is far quieter and slower-paced, but also finds that anywhere you go, people will do bad things. And so, Inspector Banks is once again catching peeping toms, finding missing children and solving the occasional murder. These stories are slower paced and focus far more on the main cast of characters and the English countryside than on the crimes themselves. Despite the slow start, I’m six books into the series and enjoying myself tremendously.

I’m reading these books for free through the PINES library system.

When I’m not hanging out in the British countryside, I am also working my way through a backlog of ARC’s. I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls. I have a bit of a crush on Elizabeth Gilbert, so you can be sure that when the opportunity to read this book came up, I snatched it. City of Girls is told retrospectively by the main character Vivian, who at nineteen years old in 1940, is kicked out of Vassar college and sent to live with her theatrical aunt in New York City. What follows is a summer of debauchery, pleasure and eventually personal scandal and shame. Set against the backdrop of a looming war, City of Girls is a story about listening to our inner voice and being true to the person we want to be: “Life is both fleeting and dangerous, and there is no point in denying yourself pleasure, or being anything other than what you are.”

Elizabeth Gilbert has woven a deliciously naughty and deeply moving story with an unusual cast of characters who are impossible to forget. I’ve lusted for this book since I first heard about its publication, and it absolutely does not disappoint. City of Girls promises to be the perfect summer read for anyone who doesn’t mind it when things get a little steamy.

I received this book for unbiased review from NetGalley.

Apparently it isn’t just British detective stories I can’t resist, also any book that has the word “bookshop” in the title in destined to find it’s way onto my book stack, which is why I couldn’t resist Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Tillman. Set in 1960’s Austrailia (don’t be confused when they talk about the Christmas heat waves), this story is far less about a bookshop as it is about a gentle farmer and the ways he pursues love and forgiveness. Tillman’s writing is sweeping ly poetic and tinged with melancholy which is the perfect tone for this very unusual love story.

Tom hasn’t had much luck with love. His first wife leaves him for awhile, has an affain and returns home pregnant. Tom raises the child willingly and lovingly until his wife decides to leave him a second time and takes the child with her, leaving Tom broken and alone. But he can’t help noticing Hannah, a Hungarian Jew who is opening a bookshop in town. Tom will later learn that Hannah is a halocast survivor who also lost a child to the ovens of Auschwitz and who has determined never to love a child again.

While I felt this book lost some of its cohesiveness towards the ending, which seemed rather abrupt and unfinished, taken as a whole, this is a sweet and unusual story with a quiet, unassuming depth.

I received this book for unbiased review from NetGalley.

These are the books I am reading this week. What’s on your stack?