10 Books for the holiday season

I have been inspired by the ABC’s Book Club (with Jennifer Bynne, Jason Steger & Marieke Hardy) which recently had a poll to find out Australia’s top ten holiday reads, to come up with my own 10 suggestions. Some of you may be surprised that The Sheltering Sky is not here despite my giving it a whole post some time ago, but it is too traumatic for the holiday season, at least in my opinion. So here goes, in no particular order of preference –

The High Window (Raymond Chandler) – this is probably my favourite of the Phillip Marlow books. It showcases Chandler’s dry humour and does not overdo the detail, something he can be prone to. This is a gripping whodunit and will hopefully also make you smile. Chandlers dark view of human nature also comes through.

Santiago (Mike Reznick) – a dabble into sci-fi with this one. This is a quest story centred on Sebastian Nightingale Cain, also known as the The Songbird (much to his annoyance). I am not a huge Reznick fan, but this is a light, fast-paced story that develops characters enough, and keeps the reader entertained throughout. Great holiday fayre!

The Year of the Horsetails (R.F. Tapsell) – now we’re into historical fiction. The nomadic tugars are rampaging through the lands of a hapless agricultural people (probably in eastern Europe) and are aided by a fugitive from the ranks of the invaders. Gripping battle scenes, a bit of romance, and a clear knowledge of the era being written about. Entertaining.

Freedom, Alaska (Guy Bergstrom) – I only came across this recently and entered its pages with some indifference, however this is a frenetic thriller full of action and impossible decisions for the hero. Could you ask for a better holiday read?

I’m Warning You, Horse (Murray Ball) – Yes, I know, this is a book of a cartoon strip, but I don’t care. I love Footrot Flats. I grew up reading about the The Dog, Wal, Cheeky Hobson, Horse, Cooch, and the Murphy Boys. It’s great!

Jingo (Terry Pratchett) – It’s hard for me to choose only one Pratchett novel, but I think this is the right one. It is about racism, bigotry, human nature, and politics, as well as being very amusing. I could have chosen Night Watch, but you have to have read and grown with Captain Vimes to truly appreciate that book, or perhaps The Thief of Time and its shredding of the bureaucratic bean-counters, but I’ll settle for Jingo…at least this time.

Krakatoa (Simon Winchester) – this book details the events and impacts of the great eruption of Krakatoa in the 1880s. Winchester is a master of capturing individual stories that carry the reader along and provide texture to the events.

Ubik (Phillip K. Dick) – A master of sci-fi, this is Dick’s best, in my opinion. It constantly keeps the reader off balance and you are never sure exactly where it is going. So much so,that even at the end you are left a little bit dubious of the finality of the outcome.

A Walk in the Woods (Bill Bryson) – this is Bryson’s account of his adventures on the Appalation Train. It is highly amusing, quite educational, and also very touching in places. I am a big fan of Bill Bryson and think that this is his best, although, as an Englishman his Notes from a Small Island is at least as good a read.

The Complete Poems of Phillip Larkin – as a poet, and those of you that read this blog will know that I write the odd poem and have released a book Silence, I think Larkin has influenced me the most. He is satirical, sarcastic, ironic, and very, very perceptive. He was quite probably a very grumpy old man too, judging by some of his output – but I like it.

So there are my 10. Have a read of them and tell me what you think, good or bad.

George

 

About George Fripley
I am a writer who enjoys writing humour, satire, poetry and sometimes a bit of philosophy. I live in Perth, Western Australia and occasionally get a poem or article published. It's all good fun! I have two books available for unwary readers, Grudges, Rumours and Drama Queens- The Civil Servant's Manual (This contains all that anybody could ever want to know about why government runs so slowly) and More Gravy Please! - the Politician's Handbook. (available through Amazon)

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