Reading on a sunny afternoon

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Basking! Edinburgh has been basking in glorious sunshine! For me, a nice hideaway nook amidst the gorse in Holyrood Park is the perfect spot to soak the sun and a good story. Oh, and occasionally doze off! I do read at home too, but al fresco is so nice. From no reading at all for some while, I’ve read two books over five afternoons and am now on another.

First off was Chris Brookmyre’s offering from last year Fallen Angel. I do like Mr Brookmyre’s works but though I did enjoy Fallen Angel (it is a cracking read) it felt like overfamiliar territory, kind of like how I felt after reading a number of Iain Banks’ books. And I bet most Brookmyre fans guessed the big reveal that I spotted as early on as I did, but no I won’t spoil it here. Oh yeah, and the other big one was no big shocking reveal to me either, that was just standard fare that I’d figured out way earlier.

At least in this book there no ranting about religion or football. In fact, there’s no serious ranting at all, his attacks on conspiracy theorists and truth manipulators are well placed, insightful and not overly sermonising within the characters’ words and deeds. It would be a good holiday read, though if you were in a villa with a shared pool you may find yourself concocting your own conspiracy theories!

Next up, a book I was lent last year (I say lent, it may be one that my friend doesn’t want back, I’m just a dropoff for books charity bound) it’s been looking balefully at me each time I’ve passed it. Okay, so I didn’t think I’d like it that’s why it’s taken so long, it’s The tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. Two afternoons in the park is all it took. I say afternoons, the weather has been so lovely and the story so compelling that it was almost seven o’clock in the evening before I stopped myself from reading “just a bit more” on the first day.

The tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale Sokolov. It’s a story about the horrors of the Holocaust, survival and love as experienced by one man, a Slovakian Jew who told his story after the death of his beloved wife, Gita. The author has woven a compelling, life-affirming story from Sokolov’s memories; and it doesn’t end there, after the end of the story there’s a postscript, additional info, an afterword from Sokolov’s son, extracts of records from Sokolov’s time in Auschwitz-Berginau, along with photos of Lale and Gita together (how the love shines through). Morris also tells of her trip to Sokolov’s home town which is quite moving. I’m very glad I read it, I must thank my friend when I enquire if it’s to be returned or passed on.

Now its on to Bill Bryson’s Neither Here Nor There which though not brilliant is a good read. I have been lent a Bryson before but after a few attempts handed it back unfinished, probably why this has been sitting around since last year. Well, I’m just over halfway through it! This one caught my interest as it’s about a trip he made around Europe whilst all recounting his earlier backpacking round Europe in the early seventies (I get lost which decade he’s on about at times). I went Inter-railing around Europe in the eighties and can quite relate to some of his younger experiences. Bryson’s friend Katz puts me in mind that one of my older siblings advised me to travel alone as even the best friend is not necessarily a good travelling companion for a whole month (and I was going for two), I paid heed as he was a veteran Interrailer, four times I think. Reading this, yeah, I did right.

Inter-railing. Every new train carriage had the potential of new friends, new ideas; a couple of days seeing mutual must-see things before hugging good-bye and jumping on different trains – another train carriage another adventure! It was while Inter-railing that my love for all things antipodean began. See some of the best characters I met that summer were Kiwis and Aussies, that was what inspired me to go Down Under, that and the knowledge that I was capable of travelling alone.

Oo, I know what I should read next (Aussies, Australia, Tasmania, Errol Flynn, My Wicked, Wicked Ways, keep up!) Just got it down from the bookcase, ah, the cinema ticket bookmark still between pages 44 and 45 suggests I last tried to get into it in March 2016. Oops! Wonder if the lender has noticed it still gone? I fear a certain primate will not be impressed with my lack of returning skills, sorry!

It’s said that the charity shops will be overflowing with all the stuff everyone has been clearing out during Lockdown, my friends will have fuller bookcases after my Lockdown!

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