It seems like ages ago, but back on December 8, 2015 I told you about a reading challenge I am participating in this year. Well, it’s time to check up and see how I’m doing. In a nutshell, if my reading life was connected to my physical life, they would tag my toe, zip the body bag over my head and push me to the morgue.
I have a pile, or two, or three, of books that I’ve been wanting to read. The piles have only grown larger so I decided I needed to put a dent in them. The piles are positioned in various places throughout my house so I am always within reach. To Serve Them All My Days by by R.F. Delderfield has languished for quite some time in one of these piles. In January, I decided it would be the first book I would read this year, and it would fulfill “a classic from the 20th century” category.
The book started off rather promising: a recently returned veteran of World War I, David Powlett-Jones, is hired on as a teacher at a boys’ boarding school in England. By the middle of the book, it had bogged down with the political goings on of the day and the inner reflections of Powlett-Jones. Don’t get me wrong, I am interested in the political landscape and the inner thoughts of any character, but it just dwelt on that for too long. I also wanted more interaction with the students, but you only get stories of them sprinkled throughout here and there.
I did manage to get through its entirety and thought I would reward myself by watching the TV series based on the book. It was probably a great production for its time (1980), but it is quite dated and I only made it through the first two episodes. Maybe at the end of the world, when I have nothing better to do, and find myself with time on my hands having survived the apocalypse, I will try to watch it again.
After finishing To Serve Them All My Days, I moved on to An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears. I had not read anything by Pears before. I have not finished it yet, reason forthcoming, but I have not been disappointed. It is a combination of a historical novel and a mystery. Mr. Pears has certainly done his research, and the I get a real sense of the time (1663 England) without feeling like I’m sitting in history class. Not only am I schooled in the political climate of the time but also the medical, scientific, and religious climate without it becoming bogged down; these details are neatly woven in with the story line and the characters. An Instance of the Fingerpost is quite lengthy, it will fulfill “a book that’s more than 600 pages” requirement, and it is quite dense, but it is humorous and enjoyable so far.
My opinion of Mr. Pears’ book may change as I have not yet completed it. And “why haven’t you completed it,” you might ask. Well, my reading of An Instance of the Fingerpost was interrupted by the release of No Shred of Evidence by the mother/son writing team Charles Todd. I enjoy the Inspector Ian Rutledge series and this is the newest release. I finished it within a few days, and for the most part it was fine. For those of you who may not be familiar with this mystery series, Rutledge is haunted by the ghost of Hamish who was a soldier he commanded in World War I. In this newest book, I don’t think Hamish played a big enough part, and he certainly was not as menacing as he usually is and should be. I was not as emotionally engaged in this story as I can be with this series, and I found that to be a bit disappointing. It has, however, filled “a murder mystery” category.
I guess I haven’t made it very far in my challenge: 3 out of 40 read. But it’s a start, and I have some pretty good books lined up. How about you? What are your reading goals, and how are you doing in meeting them?