Holiday Reading

Every Christmas I want to do the same thing: head south down to my family home, in a small Australian timber town. We tend not to do a lot, except laze in my parents house (which has been renovated and airconditioned since I moved out) while reading, playing games, watching TV and generally escaping the heat.

This year I stayed down there for six days. So, in preparation for not doing a lot, I packed a backpack full of comic trades and books so heavy I had to take some out so that the stitching on the bag wouldn’t rip. Plus my Kobo.  When I arrived, I then promptly got distracted by catching up with family, friends and food to remember I had over a kilo of trade paperbacks in my bag, waiting for me. I did remember my books and Kobo though, so here have some thoughts on the books I polished off.

Hound of The Baskervilles
It’s a little embarrassing but I really loved the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie, so since then I’ve been steadily going through all the Arthur Conan Doyle stories I can find (and conveniently many came free with my Kobo). Hound of the Baskervilles is a pretty solid Holmes mystery, with perhaps the only unusual part being the amount of narration purely about Watson and his own actions. It is a case of my being spoiled by television though; I saw a TV-movie adaption of the story as a child and, well, knowing how it all ends takes a fair bit away from Sherlock stories, I think. Still, definitely a fun light read.

I’m fairly sure this is the first time I’ve read a book translated from Russian and I think it may have lost something in translation. However, Sergei Lukyanenko wrote a cracking good novel (split into three stories) and while the book is flawed, with a confusing plot on top of simplistic and repetitive language, it is not without merit. The world-building is amazing and the characters (despite Anton’s tendency to angst about the difference between good and evil a little bit TOO much) are all likeable and relatively well fleshed out.

The back of my (cheap, paperback) copy has a quote from Time Out: ‘So good that the film feels like a trailer for it’. I loved the Nightwatch movie, but I agree the book has a coherency to it that the movie lacked and probably needed.

Three Hearts & Three Lions
I picked up this Poul Anderson book as it is part of the Gollancz ‘Millennium SF Masterworks’ series, which I’ve made a small hobby out of collecting (I love the pre-2010 numbered editions, they’re beautiful). I’m not really a huge Anderson fan; I find his language a little… dated, I guess? I can acknowledge that this book takes many digs at traditional fantasy and northern European mythology, but I can’t laugh at it, I just find it weird.

It is unfortunate that this book also happens to belong to a sub-genre of fantasy that I particularly hate, the ‘person wakes up in a high fantasy style alternative dimension’. I just cannot stand this genre and it always reminds me of terrible YA fiction. Considering that it pushes two major ‘put down’ buttons for me, it is a credit to Anderson that I did manage to finish the book quite easily and then afterwards be able to think ‘well it wasn’t that bad’.

Hm. I will write a post about a comic eventually. At the moment I’m in the middle of Song of Kali by Dan Simmons and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes though so it might be awhile.


2 thoughts on “Holiday Reading

  1. Whilst you have Hound of the Baskervilles in recent memory I have to bring around and give you “Sherlock Holmes was Wrong” by Pierre Bayard.

    It is a seriously good read as he basically goes through the story and points out how Holmes got it wrong and that possibly Conan Doyle knew this and did it deliberately.

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