Reading, listening…

My latest reading list spreads right across the technological board and I’m enjoying the experience.

In print, I’ve been reading fantasy – Volume Two of Philip Pullman’s Book of Dust entitled The Secret Commonwealth. I’m only a few chapters in but as with La Belle Sauvage, it was fast out of the gates and continues hard. Lyra is now an adult and she and her daemon, Pantaleimon, have communication issues which lifts the tension that extra notch.

I love Pullman’s writing – it’s truly effortless and he’s such a story teller. What I also appreciate is that there’s nothing repetitive about each book in the series. They stand alone whilst alluding to the theme of the Book of Dust series.

If I have any complaint, it’s that the book is very heavy. I’m a night time reader and if I fall asleep whilst reading, that book is like a sledgehammer on my nose.

On Kindle: Another fantasy. I’ve finished Book Six in the Glass and Steele series, called The Inkmaster’s Silence. This is a long series about magic in Victorian England – well written and the relationship between India and Matt is well-handled, the magic very subtle.

I began a new story two nights ago on my Kindle. It’s part of the Dalai Lama’s Cat series by David Michie, called The Four Paws of Spiritual Success. This follows on from The Dalai Lama’s Cat, The Art of Purring and The Power of Miaow. I’m not a cat fancier at all and it surprises me that this feline has slid under my skin. If you are interested in Buddhist philosophy, and I am, this fiction series is a brilliantly contrived lesson in Tibetan Buddhism as seen through the eyes of a self-indulgent cat called variously HHC (His Holiness’s Cat), Rinpoche and Snow Lion. One can’t help grinning at the representation of the cat’s ego. There’s a lesson there, right from the get-go.

On audio, I’ve just finished listening to Monty Don’s Nigel, My Family and Other Dogs. Quite simply it was beautiful. I am a huge Monty Don fan – for his gardens, his writing and his documentaries. The story of the dogs through his life was perfectly written and read without being overtly sentimental. That said, there were times when I cried. Monty read the narrative himself, he has a superbly velvet voice, and it was as though he told me the story of his canine friends from the other side of the potting bench.

I’m now listening to Giles Christian’s Camelot read  by Philip Stevens. It’s a breathtaking literary adventure. I confess I haven’t read Lancelot and wish I had as it would have set me up for this novel. We are following the life of Galahad, Lancelot’s son, and the desperate search for Merlin who might be able to heal the cracks in Arthur’s life and enable the Britons in their battle against the Saxons.

I adored listening to Toby Clements’ Kingmaker series read by the inimitable Jack Hawkins. It was a faultless literary and audio production. I would put Camelot on the same pedestal. So too, Matthew Harffy’s Wolf of Wessex read by Barnaby Edwards.

I’ve become a total devotee of fiction audio-books, especially when they are read by voices like Hawkins, Stevens and Edwards. They build character so well and for me, it’s like the days of radio drama. True addictive entertainment.

So that’s it for the moment – a hugely eclectic list. But one I’m enjoying hugely. Off to do battle with the weight of Pullman as we speak.