Happy New Year! It’s good to be back on my blog!
I had a pretty slow end to December 2014 with my reading and crafting, because right after I finished the 12 Days of Christmas I came down with the worst flu I’ve ever had. It knocked a week out of my very precious holiday time, so I’m a bit disappointed about that, but definitely glad to be feeling better and very thankful that I am healthy again.
With that in mind, my reading list for December was a little on the fluffy side, but I think we all need that every now and again, don’t you? :)
Here’s what I read in December 2014:
Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography (autobiography)
Neil Patrick Harris
In Neil Patrick Harris’s unconventional autobiography, the reader gets to choose how they would like to proceed through the life of Harris, including his rise to fame, his struggle with his sexuality and his decision to start a family with his long time partner.
I love NPH, so I had been looking forward to checking out his autobiography for a while. The ‘choose your own adventure’ aspect was a bit of a gimmick – I basically read the book from cover to cover instead of following the instructions, and it worked well that way.
Harris is charming and self-deprecating, and it was very enjoyable to read about his life – particularly the anecdote about how he and his partner met and stayed with Elton John in France.
All in all, this was a light and enjoyable read – it didn’t delve too deeply into Harris’ psyche. It was a good read for the beach, which is where I was when I read it!
“This is the Zodiac Speaking”: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer (true crime)
Michael D. Kelleher and David Van Nuys
Kelleher examines the murders associated with the ‘Zodiac’ killer, a serial murderer who operated in the San Fransisco area in the late 1960s. He analyses the many letters and other communications that the killer sent to local police and media. Psychologist David Van Nuys also adds his insight to the discussion of the letters without being familiar with the facts of the case, giving an impartial look at the psychology behind them.
After reading Patricia Cornwell’s Jack the Ripper book in November, I was a bit nervous to pick up a book about such a similar subject. Both the Ripper and the Zodiac remain unidentified personas (both also communicated prolifically with police and media, in a weird similarity). However, where I felt frustrated by Cornwell’s attempts to impose her theory on the reader, Kelleher’s approach was very different and I enjoyed it immensely.
Kelleher presents each of the developments of the Zodiac case in chronological order, with clear, established (and referenced) facts, pictures, diagrams and impeccable logic. He brought in psychologist Van Nuys to provide his own impartial analyses of the killer’s letters, and did not shy away from making it clear when he and Van Nuys disagreed on a point, while giving equal weight to both opinions. I found him to be a truly first rate true crime author and, far from making the subject matter dry or boring, I felt that his presentation increased the sense of horror.
Of course, there is still the age-old question of who the murderer actually was, but I guess we will never know…
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (fantasy/young adult)
In the Philosopher’s Stone, 11 year old Harry Potter discovers he is a wizard, and begins to learn magic at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, eventually coming face to face with the evil wizard who killed his parents.
In Chamber of Secrets, Harry begins his second year at Hogwarts. However, something is attacking students at the school, and Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione struggle to identify the culprit and bring them to justice.
I can’t really review Harry Potter books because it is true love between us, and true love is blind. They are the best. They are my religion. Nunquam titillandus draco dormiens.
I will say, however, how much I enjoyed re-reading these first two books. It had been quite a while since I had read them, and I so loved being back in Rowling’s world. Chamber of Secrets remains my favourite of all the series, because it has that element of creepiness and mystery, and because it sets up so perfectly the future of the series, being the horcruxes. Seriously, do you know who is really magic? J.K. Rowling. How did she know so far in advance what would happen? She is amazing.
As a side note, here is an insight into my crazy love for HP: I collect copies of Philosopher’s Stone, and I now have 20 different covers!
The Beast from the East and The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena (young adult/thriller)
In The Beast from the East, Ginger and her twin brothers get lost in the woods while on a family camping trip. However, they soon realise that these woods are unlike any they have ever seen before, and that they are trapped in the middle of a sinister game…
In The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, Jordan and his sister Nicole take a trip to Alaska with their father to photograph the mythical abominable snowman. However, they get more than they bargain for…
So there is a bit of a story as to why I’ve decided to check in with my childhood and pick up some Goosebumps. Mario and I luuuuurve antiquing and trawling through second-hand bookshops, and whenever we come across one of our favourite childhood books, we tend to snap it up. These were a couple of mine that I found a few months ago, and I was pleased to add them to my little collection (sadly, I donated all my childhood Goosebumps books back before I knew how much I would miss them one day!).
Sure, they’re not literary fiction, but I stand by the view that no book that gets kids reading can be bad. If they enjoy it, and it encourages them to read, then it’s worth its weight in gold. Honestly, I don’t think that just applies to kids either. If the only thing you enjoy reading as an adult is Goosebumps (or anything – romance, sic fi, young adult, etc), then go for it. Read proudly. It’s a million times better than not reading.
The Book of Paul: The Wit and Wisdom of Paul Keating (politics)
Russell Marks (ed)
Marks has complied a collection of former-Prime Minister Paul Keating’s famous insults, put downs and predictions on the future of Australian politics. His acerbic wit is often laugh-out-loud funny.
My Dad give me this book for Christmas, and I enjoyed it so much that I read it in one hit. Reading Keating’s words makes me long for the days when our politicians had some gumption. My favourite quote is this one [on a motion moved by the Shadow Treasurer]:
‘It was the limpest performance I have ever seen. Seven minutes into the speech he could not sustain it. It was like being flogged with a warm lettuce. It was like being mauled by a dead sheep.’
And on that note… adios! x