Holiday reading report

I'm back from my two-week holiday*, and am delighted to report that I took with me precisely the correct number of books. It is always hard to estimate these things and I usually get it slightly wrong in one direction or the other. This year, I needed to get it right because I thought (correctly, as it happens) that English-language books would be difficult to find if my guess turned out to be an underestimate.

Going away for two weeks, I thought I'd take 14 books. As I was busy right up until an hour or two before I had to leave and had not yet packed, my selection process consisted of grabbing what was on top of the nearest piles of books. I thought one or two of the 14 looked quite short, so added a couple more, then two more for luck. Eighteen books in total. I started one in the departure lounge at the airport, and began number 18 on the flight on the way back home. Not bad!

Here is the list, in reading order:

Willing Flesh by Adam Creed, second in the "Staffe" police procedural series (UK/London).
Needle in a Haystack by Ernesto Mallo (police procedural in Argentina, translated).
Bad Intentions by Karin Fossum (creepily atmospheric "effects of a crime", Norway, translated).
Dragon Man by Gary Disher (first in Hal Challis series, Australian police procedural)
The Silence of the Rain by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza (police procedural in Brazil, translated).
Acts of Violence by Ryan David Jahn (anatomy of a crime, USA in the 1960s)
A Jew Must Die by Jacques Chesseux (anatomy of a crime, Switzerland 1942, translated)
Play Dead by Harlan Coben (romantic thriller, USA)
A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn (police procedural drama in South Africa, 1952)
Havana Red by Leonardo Padura (Cuban police procedural of literary/political emphasis, translated)
The Girl with the Crystal Eyes by Barbara Baraldi (serial-killer thriller, Italy, translated)
The Terrorists by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (Swedish culmination of 10-book series, translated)
Telling Tales by Ann Cleeves (police investigation and mystery story, UK/Yorkshire coast)
Day After Day by Carlo Lucarelli (second in Italian police procedural series, translated)
Dead at Daybreak by Deon Meyer (South African PI/mystery thriller; translated)
Chinatown Beat by Henry Chang (first in police procedural series set in New York)
American Visa by Juan de Recacoechea (Bolivian existentialist noir, translated)
Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai (mystery with strong politics/social commentary, set in India).

Several of these books will be familiar to readers of this blog as having been reviewed and recommended by other crime fiction bloggers, particularly those at the Friend Feed crime and mystery fiction group. Other titles have come from the ever-generous Karen of Euro Crime, and the rest are just books that appealed to me for one reason or another.

My next challenge will be to write up reviews of all these books – if I can remember them all in sufficient detail! Of this crop, it took a while for me to get to one that truly absorbed me, and I was quite surprised as to which one it was. There are, in fact, only three titles that completely gripped me of the 18 I read. There are a few I actively disliked for reasons ranging from "rubbish" to "not my cup of tea". Several of them are good, solid reads that I enjoyed reading but which did not knock my socks off.  A few I would define as "meh", borrowing Bernadette's economically accurate description (examples here and here). I was being quite adventurous, though, as 11 of the books I read are by authors are new to me.  (I was interested in trying new authors, and a range of regions of the world, in this reading window of opportunity.)

*As my holiday destination was not to a country featured in my recent  Country book reviews feature, I am providing a pictorial clue in this post!


15 thoughts on “Holiday reading report

  1. Maxine – I’m so glad you’re safely back from your holiday, and I hope you had a wonderful time. I really look forward to your book reviews, too. I’m eager to try several of the books on your list, and want to know what you thought.

  2. Pleased you are back Maxine. What a lot of reading, and will we have to wait a while for you to reveal your top three?

  3. I’ve read 4.5 of those. I’m still on the same book as when you went, though have been diverted (easily) from it by Dr Who books etc. Welcome back!

  4. Thanks for the comments! I got back yesterday (Sunday) evening and back to work bright and early this morning, spent the day trying vainly to chip away at the email mountain. I really want to review all these books if I can remember my thoughts at the time of reading each one. My output was helped by the fact that some were rather short, eg The Jew Must Die was only 92 pages! Karen, curious to know which exciting tome (not!) this is.

  5. Welcome back, hope you enjoyed Greece and spent lots of money to kick along their economy a bit 🙂 18 books in 2 weeks is a rather amazing total, I am very impressed. I await reviews with interest, though I already have an inkling what you think about some of the books as I happened to notice your good reads ratings for a couple. But as I have only read 3 of your haul I can guess I might be adding a few new titles to the wishlist over coming days as the reviews trickle in..

  6. Glad you are safely back at home Maxine. Hope you have enjoyed your holiday. Wow! 18 books in 14 days. That is something. Eager to read your reviews. I must admit have read none in your list, but have some in my TBR pile. Particullarly interested in your opinion about A Jew Must Die by Jacques Chesseux. Intrigued about your top three.

  7. So glad you had a good time, am amazed at the number of books you read in two weeks (would be 468 books a year at that rate if you didn’t have to work, etc.) and cannot wait for your book reviews. Will not add anything to my TBR list until I read the reviews.

  8. All my life since a young child I have carried books around with me and read at every available opportunity… when I am on holiday there are more of these than when I am working, have domestic tasks looming, etc!

  9. It is so good to have you back! And I can see from your list that you have moved out of your comfort zone in more than one way 😀

  10. Can’t wait to not only see the reviews but your asterisks next to books based on your ratings. I put books on my TBR (or TBO (ordered)) list based on number of asterisks.
    Yes. I agree about always reading. In high school, I somehow would walk down the street reading, stay up and be late to school due to reading until the wee hours, and so on. But I can’t do it at the rate I used to. There are too many distractions and responsibilities.

  11. Read only “Chinatown Beat” here; it was okay. I plan to read the Sjowall/Wahloo as I want to finish those I haven’t yet read. On the others, will wait for your reviews–and asterisks.

  12. Sjowall/Wahloo still stands out! It is so intelligently written compared with most (not all) of the others.

  13. Yes, three cheers for Sjowall and Wahloo. I planned to read the rest I hadn’t read this month as well as many of Camilleri’s, but that was not to be–other book temptations, dvd’s and tasks. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” is very good–but so brutal on screen (had to fast-forward at times); however, Noomi Rapace is just stunning as Lizbeth Salander. No one can replace her in the U.S. version. But women must be cheering her as they watch it; she is the hero.

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