It's never too late

friedag

Many readers I know will choose only the newest books on the bestseller lists or something recommended by some current self-styled reading guru, such as Oprah. I am always trailing behind -- often I lag years and years before I get around to reading what everyone else (it seems) has already dismissed as 'old hat'.


However, I have developed a philosophy that books getting the most hype are usually not worth the effort for me to rush to read them. Occasionally, though, I am sorry that I didn't pay more attention to the ballyhoo. Are there books you discovered late and wish you had read earlier? I would love to know which books they are. What were your circumstances that delayed your reading?


A truly good book, I think, doesn't have a date expiration window. But maybe some do. What do you think?

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yoyobon_gw

I choose books according to the following universal rules ( per me):

--The right book will appear at the right time

--Never read an Oprah book

--Most best-sellers lists are created based on many factors, least of which is reader enjoyment or preference.

--If Kathy likes it, I probably might also .

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friedag

Yoyobon, do you mean RP's very own kathy_t?

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yoyobon_gw

None other than ........:0)

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sheri_z6

Never read an Oprah book -- Amen!

I'm certain there are books I enjoyed that I found well after the hype had come and gone but none come readily to mind. I'll have to think about this.

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kathy_t

Yoyobon - You're so funny! I too have noticed that you and I often enjoy the same books. That's good! I look to this group a lot for ideas about what to read next. I wish I could read fast enough to keep up with all of you.

Frieda - I have often read books after the height of their popularity. Like Sheri, I need to think about which ones. (I'll be back.) However, I don't recall having regrets about not reading them sooner.

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carolyn_ky

I usually wait until the ballyhoo has died down and base my reading on what readers I respect like rather than "best ever" lists. I have learned to go with my own preferences rather than reviewers' clips. I'm not very highbrow, but neither do I want to read pablum. Guess I'm too old and set in my ways to care much about what other people say.

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friedag

Carolyn, I noticed in another thread that you recently read Allingham's The Tiger in the Smoke (1952). Was it your first time or was it a reread for you?

Have you read many vintage crime/mystery novels? (It's probably a silly question because you've read so many mysteries!) I know you didn't read the Golden Age crime genre, usually dated 1920-1939, when those books first came out because you weren't born yet or were too young. My mother did as she was born in January 1922. She still recalls some of them quite well and can rattle off titles, authors, characters, and plots.

I've probably mentioned before that I didn't read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books until I was forty-seven years old. I don't remember why it took me so long.

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annpanagain

Carolyn reminded me of Allingham and I rediscovered the Mike Rigby follow up Campion books.

I am a bit slow to discover follow up books like the Mapp and Lucia series simply because I never knew they existed. There are possibly other follow up books lurking that I am unaware of.

Reprints of Golden Age detective novels or an unaccountably missed one of a series are also a great joy to discover. I recently found a No 1 Detective Agency I had overlooked but MacCall Smith writes so prolifically, that is to be excused!

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vee_new

I occasionally read the titles that have been recommended here and have borrowed a copy of Tiger in the Smoke as suggested by Carolyn, from the library. A 'new' edition, a teeny book with very small print and mock gold-leaf round the page edges. I had thought I had read it but seems not. BTW The original B&W film is on Youtube.

Over the years I have realised that the latest 'must reads' are not for me, I mostly read to 'gain' something, obviously enjoyment, but also knowledge/information/satisfaction. I make a very brief list of titles and authors of books I have read and if I go back to check it and I can't remember anything about the book I know it wasn't worth reading!

Some time ago here we had a thread about trying to read a 'classic work' every so often. I had a go and quite enjoyed a couple of Dickens' . . .

Frieda I have a copy of George Eliot's Middlemarch that had been waiting for many years. Will it be a step too far?


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annpanagain

I don't know why books are printed in tiny type! I have had to reject some because I am not giving myself a headache trying to read. I had to reject a really cheap op-shop book that would have completed a series as the type was minute! I am still looking for this one in a better size.

I also made the mistake of ordering online a Christmas book and didn't check the dimensions. It was for toddlers and would be a suitable fit for a small hand!

Luckily I had a small girl on my gift list so it wasn't wasted.

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friedag

Vee, you're asking the wrong person about reading Middlemarch since I can't seem to see eye-to-eye with anything George Eliot wrote. Middlemarch is inhabited by some of the dullest, most self-righteous characters I can imagine, especially Dorothea Brooke who is supposed to be a paragon because Eliot tells readers over and over that she is. She seems more of a ninny, to me. I don't 'get' the appeal of this book. I shouldn't have taken Virginia Woolf's praise of it as a hopeful indication of an insightful read, because if there's an English writer I relate to less well than Eliot, it is Woolf!

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vee_new

Thank you for your prompt reply Frieda. We had to read The Mill on the Floss at school and I remember thinking Tom Tulliver (son of the miller) was a terrible prig and felt sorry for sister Maggie, a wild-spirited child. Silas Marner was another 'set book' and an equally depressing tale!

The Mill . . . had some slight interest for me as one side my family were millers in Warwickshire at the time and place Eliot was writing. I found out only a few weeks ago through the British newspaper site, that a son of the family drowned in a horrible accident after getting his coat caught up in the mill wheel.

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friedag

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume was published in 1970. I recall hearing about it at the time. There were many copies in the hands of teenage girls that year, and I think it got even more popular in the next twenty to thirty years -- it may still be beloved by new readers.

I turned twenty in 1970, was in college, and already married. I thought I was too old to find anything significant in Ms Blume's book. Thus, it was only after I heard the book praised here at RP many, many times (after 2000, the year I started posting regularly) that I decided to read it. I had been wrong in thinking I was too old for it!

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carolyn_ky

I have an old copy of It's Me, Margaret and remember liking it back when I read it. I'm another who read Middlemarch after it was listed on Susan Hill's Top 40 list (that also included the King James Version of the Bible and the original 1600s English Prayer Book). I agree wholeheartedly with Frieda's review of Middlemarch, and it has discouraged me from reading some of the other books on the list. I also prefer the New KJV.

As to Golden Age mysteries, I have read quite a lot of them. At one time I had a list of the 50 best mysteries by year from 1900 to 1950 and another from 1950 to whatever year we were up to at the time. My library had many of them but not all. I spent a lot of time searching for and never found some of them, and now that we have resources at hand and I have more disposable income, I've lost the list. At any rate, those I read introduced me to many writers I was not familiar with, and I did read some of their other books.

I've probably mentioned that I have lots of Agatha Christie books and read lots more from the library in an attempt to learn why she is so popular and then read a review that said she wrote puzzles rather than character development, which told me why they didn't especially appeal to me, so I quit reading her. Don't yell at me, now. We all like different things, you know.

This was my first read of Tiger in the Smoke but not my first Allingham.

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phyllis__mn

I had Ann Patchett's Bel Canto and just never could get to it. After appreciating a couple of her books I took up Bel Canto. So very glad I did,as I do believe it's one of my all time favorites now!

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kathy_t

Phyllis - Your comments about Bel Canto interest me. I missed reading it when it was new also, and have felt much as you did - except I still have not mustered up enough interest to actually pick it up and read it. Maybe now I will. Thank you.

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yoyobon_gw

I also have put Bel Canto aside several times, being vaguely put off by the premise. Perhaps I'll give it a look. Kathy, have you read it ? :0)

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kathy_t

Yoyobon - Like you, not yet.

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friedag

I recall starting Bel Canto, but I don't know if I ever finished it. I thought it was tedious, which I suppose should not be surprising because the tedium is important to the realism of the story. However, there were some unexpectedly humorous parts -- one was about onions, of all things! Maybe I just have a warped sense of humor, though. Phyllis, do you remember the onion incident?

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friedag

Carolyn, practically all the mysteries I've ever read have been of the vintage variety. I didn't get around to them until years after they were written. That hasn't mattered to me. I probably like the older mysteries best. I don't care for the styles of most newer ones. The new thrillers are the worst, in my opinion -- such as Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. I have decided to let them age a while before I tackle them again.

That's funny -- to me -- about your experience of reading Agatha Christie. I've never been especially fond of her 'puzzles' either. But with me it's not her lack of character development that dilutes my enjoyment .. . I don't read most series because I usually don't get attached to characters, but I do prefer characters that are not silly (IMO) stereotypes.

I still haven't read the Harry Potter books. It's been over twenty years since they came out. I'm beginning to think I never will. I missed the window for reading them, I think, because my sons were too old for them (they say so) and my granddaughter who is nine crinkles her nose at the mention of HP -- apparently those books don't interest her.

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carolyn_ky

Frieda, I read the first Harry Potter book to see what all the commotion was about. The only thing I really remember about it is how funny I thought it was that the school for witches and wizards had Christmas and Easter breaks.

I didn't like Girl on the Train at all.

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sheri_z6

Looking back through my book journal, I found a few interesting things.

Evidently, I don't read very many super-hyped, Oprah- or Reese-endorsed books unless they're for my IRL book group. Even then we tend to get to them a little after they hit their zenith simply because nobody wants to buy hardcovers. The only one I do wish I'd found sooner was A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I loved it and went on to read most of his other books.

The few other books that I came to late on my own that had a lot of buzz were: The Red Tent (published 1997, read in 2004), Middlesex (pub. 2002, read in 2005), and The Martian (pub. 2011, read in 2014). But does three years after publication even count as "later"?

Frieda, I agree with you, Gone Girl was awful, and a truly good book doesn't have an expiration date. I've been introduced to so many new-to-me authors and amazing older books here over the years, there's no worry that I'll ever run out of things I want to read.

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woodnymph2_gw

Frieda, have you read "The Woman at the Window" by A.J.Finn? If not, I wonder what you would think of it. It's a very dark tale, but I enjoyed the interesting twists and turns of the plot.

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friedag

Sheri, by my estimation, reading something only three years after publication makes you au courant.

I had forgotten about The Red Tent and Middlesex, neither of which appealed to me when the mentions here at RP came just about every other day. I won't say I will read them any time soon, but I might! Thanks for stirring my memory.

Oh, I've been meaning to ask you: maybe ten or fifteen years ago, you mentioned a novel with a title that had something to do with chess. I think you said it was one of your favorites.

I've searched for it, but there seem to be bazillions of titles alluding to chess as a metaphor.. This book, though, was actually about characters playing chess with a particular gambit described. I know very little about chess so I don't know if it's a famous gambit, but it seems like it was. I hope you can tell me the title and author.

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friedag

Mary, I have not read The Woman in the Window. I have been a bit gun shy lately after reading some over-hyped thrillers. But Woman sounds like an homage of sorts to the noir fiction of Cornell Woolrich, a favorite writer of mine from the1940/1950's era. Most reviewers say the author meant it to be in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock's films, but Hitchcock got some of his ideas from Woolrich, something a lot of film-watchers don't seem to be aware of.

It's encouraging to me that you liked Woman. I will move it up in my TBR tower and let you know what I think.

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

Friedag - if you are a film noir fan you'll appreciate the parts of Woman in the Window which mention those. The protagonist is a film noir buff and drops those titles throughout. I looked all of them up while reading it. Many I had never heard of so added those to my TBW list. (many avail. on Amazon Prime - bonus!)

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woodnymph2_gw

Frieda, I second what Skibby wrote. I loved all the Film Noir references, as I am a fan, especially of Hitchcock.



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astrokath

Frieda, possibly The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis? I have read it but remember little about it.

A J Finn, author of The Woman in the Window, and pseudonym of Dan Mallory, came into our shop, brought us chocolates and was totally charming. Not long after this, it came out that he has been quite untruthful about his life, at one time claiming he had brain cancer, lying about his qualification from Oxford and about his work experience to get a job.

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Rosefolly

Frida, could the book with the chess connection that you were looking for be The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis? I found it fascinating - and I don't play chess.

I understand that Netflix is planning a six-part series based on it, and I think I'll re-read it before that happens.

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friedag

Kath and Rosefolly, I looked up The Queen's Gambit by Tevis. That might be it, but I would have to read it (again?) to know for sure. The descriptions of it have some similar elements, although I don't recall the book I'm thinking about having a female child prodigy.as the protagonist. The Tevis book sounds worthwhile, however, so even if it's not the same book, I might find it just as fascinating as you did, Rosefolly.

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friedag

I noticed in the reviews of The Woman in the Window that readers from the UK are a lot less impressed with it than those from the U.S. Perhaps they know more about the writer, Finn (Mallory), and his previous real-life antics . . . It may be one of those cases about knowing nothing about the writer is better.

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woodnymph2_gw

Frieda, if you read the Finn/Mallory book, I'd be interested in your opinion of it.

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vee_new

Frieda, I also noticed many UK reviewers didn't think much of this book, describing it as 'tripe' 'pulp' etc.

Interesting how some of these 'charmers' can be so believable and yet quite two-faced. I must admit that for me it does put me off a book,

We had this discussion a few years ago when I mentioned I had been put off a certain English writer of children's books who turned out to be a serial paeodphile. He got to his 'victims' because of his fame as an author and invited kids back to his house for 'weekend visits'. . . and the parents were happy for them to go.

For me I was totally put off his writing by this but another RP'er disagreed and felt the writing should stand alone and not be considered in connection with his morals (or lack of)

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sheri_z6

Frieda, sorry I didn't see this until today. I'm amazed you remembered my mentioning this. The book I liked so much is The Eight by Katherine Neville. It's not actually about chess, though there is are a lot of references, but about a mystical chess set that once belonged to Charlemagne. It's set in 1972. I just pulled it off the shelf and realized it has been so long since I last read it, I hardly remember it. Perhaps it's time for a re-read.

Here's the Publisher's Weekly synopsis:

Even readers with no interest in chess will be swept up into this
astonishing fantasy-adventure, a thoroughly accomplished first novel.
Catherine Velis, a computer expert banished to Algeria by her accounting
firm, gets caught up in a search for a legendary chess set once owned
by Charlemagne. An antique dealer, a Soviet chess master, KGB agents and
a fortune-teller who warns Catherine she's in big trouble all covet the
fabled chess pieces, because the chess service, buried for 1000 years
in a French abbey, supplies the key to a magic formula tied to
numerology, alchemy, the Druids, Freemasonry, cosmic powers. As the
story shuttles between the 1970s and the 1790s, we are introduced to 64
characters, including Mireille, a spunky French nun who helps scatter
the individual chess pieces across Europe lest the set fall into evil
hands. Involving Napoleon, Talleyrand, Casanova, Voltaire, Rousseau,
Robespierre and Catherine the Great in the quest, Neville has great fun
rewriting history and making it all ring true. With two believable
heroines, nonstop suspense, espionage, murder and a puzzle that seems
the key to the whole Western mystical tradition, this spellbinder soars
above the level of first-rate escapist entertainment. Daring, original
and moving, it seems destined to become a cult classic.

https://www.amazon.com/Eight-Katherine-Neville/dp/0345351371/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+eight&qid=1578778991&sr=8-1


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friedag

Sheri, The Eight is likely to be the book I remember you mentioning. But how did you recognize what I was talking about from my scanty and garbled comments about it? Thank you for reading my mind instead of trying to make sense out of what I wrote!

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friedag

Vee, who was the paedophile author who put you off his books after you learned of his penchant?

When I was a child it seemed like too many people were pushing me to read Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. I loathed both and refused to finish reading them because I think I intuited there was something 'hinky' about them. When I got older and found out about some of the suspected inclinations of Carroll and Barrie, I felt my initial dislike was somewhat validated. I do recognize some of the cleverness and wit of both writers now, and they are probably important in a cultural context . . . but I am still put off by all of the references to them that pop up too frequently, IMO.

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vee_new

Frieda, the writer was William Mayne, who was imprisoned for a couple of years and died in 2010. After this his books, which has been highly praised were either removed from library/book shop shelves and were not reprinted.

Below is a blog about him and his work. Rather long and several people writing as 'Anon' but worth going down the thread as the various 'views' a) a good writer and misunderstood b) someone who wormed his way into children's and parents lives . .. help to illustrate the different p's.o.v

These comments were mostly made in 2010 and I think the public's reaction to paedophilia has hardened in the last 10 years.


William Mayne

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sheri_z6

Frieda, as it is one of my "keeper" books and the only one I can recall reading that had anything at all to do with chess, it came readily to mind. I wish my memory was as good for everything else going on in my daily life!

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woodnymph2_gw

Getting back to "The Woman in the Window" -- I just re-read the article in The New Yorker magazine about A.J. Finn (aka Mallory). This is an in-depth analysis of a troubled man going back through decades of deception, both academic and personal. I found the analysis fascinating, and I do not applaud his dishonesty. However, it does not take away from the brilliance of his writing, in my view, and all the film noir references are clever. I'm sure he is not the first author in history to attempt this sort of travesty.

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friedag

Vee, I don't think I ever heard of William Mayne before. If I had run across some of his children's books, and not knowing anything about him, I might have been charmed by the stories (depending on the type of story, of course -- just so long as they aren't the anthropomorphic or fantastical types so beloved by certain English writers whom I don't relate to much at all). After learning about him, though, I won't go out of my way to find any of his books to sample them. Probably among specific kinds of readers the illicitness of his writing is an enticement, out of curiosity. I have to acknowledge my own curiosity as my reason for reading, say, Lolita, which I found surprisingly readable in spite of the 'ick-factor' in its subject matter.

I have been on a tear of reading Georges Simenon's work (both the light Maigret stories and the romans durs, such as The Snow Was Dirty and Monsieur Hire's Engagement). Simenon was a helluva writer, in my estimation, but he sure wasn't an admirable man in his personal life (apparently he was a sex addict, if he didn't exaggerate), a lousy husband, and not a very good father.

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vee_new

Another eg of authors 'real lives' not living up to readers expectations. Some years ago my brother was reading all the Master and Commander series by Patrick O'Brian (the first one made into a popular movie with Russell Crow doing the swashbuckling). By chance I found O'B's biography and sent it to brother, who hated it because it turned out O'B was not a nice person. He treated his wife and family badly and had other character defects. Of course I hadn't realised any of this when I bought the book, nor that he would blame me for undermining his impression of the author, who brother saw in the same 'heroic' light as Captain Jack Aubrey.


Movie Trailer 'Master and Commander'

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friedag

Woodnymph, I finished The Woman in the Window in the wee hours. Then I went to bed and had what I call 'frustration dreams.' Half of me knows I am just dreaming, but oh, lord! it sure seemed real because I suspect I was under the influence of Finn's type of story telling. Effective. (using Finn's one-word-and-a-period style that he employed throughout the book, and a trope that is common in internet communication.)

I like this thriller -- certainly better than most of the less-than-stellar thrillers lately that have been falsely proclaimed as 'the second-coming of noir' tradition. I agree with you, Mary and Skibby, that all the allusions to classic noir books and movies are fun. I could have done without some of the 'product placements' -- such as Blue Apron and Simply Fresh -- but they probably do illustrate the time and setting, effectively. Very 21st century.

I also enjoyed the interview by Joe Hill with A.J. Finn (who knows if Mallory is completely truthful as he is his own unreliable narrator?) I like his recommendations, too, which seem authentic to me, especially when he mentions my own favorites: e.g., The Third Man (Greene's story and the Carol Reed-directed film); The Westing Game (the Newbery Medal Winner by Ellen Raskin that I read to my sons three or four times); and Joan Lindsay's enigmatic Picnic at Hanging Rock. I can't remember if Finn mentioned Chinatown (an original screenplay, not a book adaptation), which to me is an all-time favorite example of 'noir in color'.

What are some of your favorite noir novels and films?

I better not say anything about the plot as it would be too easy to spoil another person's reading. I will say that I wasn't surprised AND I was surprised.


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carolyn_ky

For noir, I like the books and the old Humphrey Bogart movies, e.g., The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep. For one thing, HB reminds me of one of my uncles who died young in the 1940s and wore a similar hat and overcoat and looked a bit like him.

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laceyvail 6A, WV

I recently read The Oxbow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. What a terrific book! If you haven't read it, I urge you to. It's a western, yes, but what it's really about is how mob violence works.

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woodnymph2_gw

Frieda, thanks for getting back to me re "The Woman in the Window." I had some bad dreams shortly after reading it. Adding interest to the layering regarding the author, check out the New Yorker article on A.J. Finn (aka Mallory) of Feb. 11, 2019. It amazes me how he could have gotten away with so much real life deception. If you read it, I'd like your opinion.

For "Film Noir", I like most of Hitchcock, (just saw "The 39 Steps"), "Chinatown", and much of the French films of that genre. Yes, "Picnic at Hanging Rock" was one of my all time favorites, but I have never been able to find the book.

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ci_lantro

Most everything I read is way late to the party. Which can be a good thing if turned out to be a great series. Immersion vs having to wait for the next installment.

Patrick O'Brien's Jack Aubrey/ Steven Maturin series was terrific. I don't care one whit about knowing anything about the author's real life. The books are wonderful, entertaining, escapist historical fiction. Great characters.

In the same vein, loved Bernard Cornwell's Richard Sharpe series, too, but Capt. Jack & Dr. Mautrin are my true loves. (Both series I've read over the last 5 years or so.)

le Carre's George Smiley series but then I quit le Carre after the Brit started hammering me over the head about his opinion of US politics in subsequent novels. I quit Ken Follett for the same reason. If I want politics, I'll turn on TV. I don't watch TV!

Colleen McCullough and James Michener's books--again, late to the party. I didn't get into Michener until after he had passed away. Steinbeck. Joseph Wambaugh--his The Black Marble is the funniest book that I have ever read. Laugh out loud, have to stop reading so you can dry your eyes, funny.

Most worthless, over-hyped book...a classic even!...that I ever read was Catcher In the Rye.

^^Of more recent vintage, I did not like The Girl On a Train, either. Lack of even one character with a shred of likability ala Catcher^. So, yes, I am always wary about a 'new' book being over-hyped.

As for Oprah books--I use that as an indicator that I will not like the book. Not since years ago with Beloved, which I found tedious.




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woodnymph2_gw

For whatever it's worth, I did like "Catcher in the Rye." To me, it captured perfectly a certain "esprit" of an age and of youthful naivete. And also the way NYC used to be.

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friedag

Laceyvail, thank you for reminding me of The Ox-Bow Incident. I first read it in the eighth grade, but I haven't revisited it in many years. Girls of my age, at the time, would read just about every genre, so teachers catered to the reading tastes of most boys who wouldn't deign to read anything about 'girldom'. Ox-Bow suited both genders, but I recall tutoring some of my male classmates when they asked, "Hey, Frieda, what's this Ox-Bow book about?" Silly bit that I was, I usually told them.

I have liked quite a lot of Westerns. I know the genre was eventually degraded by too many imitators attempting to cash-in on its popularity, but when a Western was good, it could be very, very good -- I always liked Dorothy Johnson's short stories, for instance, that presented universal themes in a western U.S. or Canadian setting. There are some more recent writers who, I think, have done a good job with the western genre: Wallace Stegner and Guy Vanderhaeghe (The Englishman's Boy) come to my mind.

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annpanagain

Friedag, your comment about Westerns being popular reminded me that when I worked in a subscription library in 1953, one of the patrons told us she wrote them. She had never been out of the UK and got her atmosphere from reading Zane Grey!

We had her books in stock and apparently she was doing well financially from choosing to write for such a popular genre.

I agree with the comment about the benefits of finding a series as one can binge read instead of waiting for the next book. The snag is that it can be hard to find the early ones and I have had to resort to buying second hand from Abe when the library has discarded them.

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friedag

Annpan, did the library where you worked stock the crime novels of James Hadley Chase, such as No Orchids for Miss Blandish, his most famous book? Chase, whose real name I don't remember, used half a dozen pseudonyms to write in various styles. He was British but he was enamored with American gangster stories, so he decided to write his own American gangster novels with the aid of American dictionaries of slang and maps of Chicago and other big cities in the U.S. The Miss Blandish book was published in 1938 in the UK. It was a sensation, and Britons couldn't get enough of these 'American' books. British readers apparently thought Chase had to be from the U.S.

American readers were fooled, too, when Miss Blandish and other Chase books were published in North America. If real gangsters read books, however, they probably had good laughs over the contrived argot.

I haven't read James Hadley Chase, but he regularly gets mentioned in lists of Best Crime Novels. I am curious about Miss Blandish, particularly. Carolyn, did you ever read it?

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friedag

Mary, I am still digesting the New Yorker article. Whew!

I'll get back to you. There's a lot to sort out.

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friedag

ci_lantro, I appreciate all of your comments. Lots of stuff there that I've never read.

I laughed out loud about what you think of politics and TV. Those are my sentiments, too.

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carolyn_ky

I have heard about but not read Miss Blandish. Sounds as if I should add some of these to my TBR list. An uncle who was career Army left a copy of The Ox-Bow Incident at our house once when he was home on leave. I was maybe 12 and remember starting it and not reading very far into it, which was unusual for me because we didn't have access to a library and I usually read anything that came along. Anyway, I've never read it either.

My mother was fond of Zane Gray and had several of his books bought later in her life. My favorite of the ones I read was Betty Zane.

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annpanagain

Friedag, no, the Boots The Chemist subscription library normally had only new titles for the "A" class and older downgraded "A" ones for "B" class fees. Eventually books that were a couple of years old got sold off cheaply. We recommended the public library to people who were looking for the classics!

I think I have read the Miss Blandish book but with over 70 years of adult reading, I can't be sure! I was always into Historical fiction for many years, those books were very popular back in the fifties.

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masgar14

it's not really late, but about twenty years ago I
read “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt, and I liked it very much. When it
came out “The Little Friend”, I hurried to buy it, and it was a disappointment,
I found it long, boring, poorly written. I swore that I would never read
anything else by Donna Tartt, so when in 2013 “The Goldenflitch” came on shop
books shelves, it didn't even go to the anteroom of my brain the idea to buy
it. A few weeks ago, I saw the movie- trailer taken from the book, and it elicited
my curiosity, I went to the bookstore, took it in my hand and read some pages
at random, I bought it, I started reading it and now I'm halfway, in love with
the story and her writing.

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woodnymph2_gw

I agree that Wallace Stegner is a great American writer of the West. Another writer who chronicled the pioneer life in the West is O.E. Rolvaag, a Norwegian. In high school, we had to read his stunning work: "Giants in the Earth." It is unforgettable. As well, I want to praise Willa Cather as a writer who depicts the West from the immigrant point of view. (Cather was born in Virginia, however.)

I'm glad to find another fan of Donna Tartt, here.

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friedag

Woodnymph, re Ian Parker's reportage on Dan Mallory as a con artist:

As you said above, this is another layer to the onion to peel back while reading A.J. Finn's thriller -- or contemplating the book further if you've already read it. It was rather chickensh*t of Parker to give away much of the plot and ending. I mean, come on, what reader will be able to resist getting a head's up when it's been so plainly told that the writer is living out his own fantasies as a Tom Ripley? If Mallory did everything he is alleged to have done (documented by Parker), this guy, Mallory, has some sort of personality disorder that makes me glad I don't have to deal with him in real life.

As for his writing and storytelling ability, I don't think that can be easily dismissed. He definitely has a knack, that could be used and developed in a more admirable way, but probably pushes the right buttons of readers who like skilled and creative people to belong in the ranks of the mad or unusual, as it makes them more interesting, after all. Other writers, such as Stephen King and Louise Penny who contributed admiring blurbs to 'Woman in the Window', are no less susceptible than general readers, it seems.

I could say other things about Mallory's thievery of intellectual property, plagiarism, and his manipulation of the gullible or just ignorant. The publishing industry (particularly of novels) only exists to make money and if a certain amount of conning is just part of the business, it is no wonder the 'big-splashes' get the most attention. I wish it wasn't that way, but I doubt it will change any time before human nature does.

Parker wrote a good, attention-getting article, I think. Mallory provided him with plenty of fodder.


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annpanagain

As Carolyn renewed my interest in Albert Campion books, I simply typed Campion into the search at my library and got several hits for all three authors, Allingham, her husband Youngman Carter and Mike Ripley. I now have three books to read, going back to 1939 and reprinted, to the latest 2019 use of the character.

We are having sultry hot weather and although no local bush fires recently, the air is occasionally smelling of burnt wood and I am glad to stay indoors as much as possible with the air-conditioner on at full blast cold!

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friedag

In many recommendation lists of the type 'if you like psychological suspense . . .' Tana French gets many mentions. The only one of her books that appeals to me is The Wych Elm (Ireland/UK title) or The Witch Elm (U.S. title), but most reviewers prefer French's earlier books.

Sometimes titles are changed for American readers; in this case the assumption is Americans won't know what a wych (twisted, gnarled) elm is, but a witch elm is somehow more familiar.

I'm reminded of the graffito "Who put Bella down the wych elm?" but I don't know if French's book is based on that unsolved true-life murder where the skeleton of a woman was found in a hollow wych elm in England during WWII. Has anyone read French's book or can you give me more information?

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vee_new

Friedag, re Wych/Witch of the altered title I suppose it only matters if either an elm tree or a witch form an important part of the story.

I don't know if some US titles are changed to 'English' titles when produced over here, but why do US publishing houses think Americans are too unintelligent to 'get' the original title?

Annpan, I am getting to know Albert Campion from reading my very small print edition of Tiger in the Smoke and that London smog must be as nasty and bad for the lungs as the fires that are burning Down Under . . .

and wasn't that a Bill Bryson title that had to be altered for the US market?!

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friedag

Vee, the U.S. publishing companies ask potential customers ahead of publishing dates which titles they are likely to buy, knowing only the titles and not much else about the books. It's surprising the number of readers who want to read a certain book because they like a title. The UK publishers perhaps do something similar, yes?

Some differences in UK and U.S. titles:

Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow (UK) and Smilla's Sense of Snow (U.S.)

Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Corelli's Mandolin

The Mask of Dimitrios and A Coffin for Dimitrios

As I recall, one or more of the Harry Potter titles were changed for U.S. audiences to the great annoyance of both UK and U.S. readers so they might have been changed back to the original(s).

I collected the Arthur W. Upfield books with Australian detective Napoleon "Bony" Bonaparte. I wound up with a lot of duplicates before I caught on that there are different Australian and U.S. titles. I generally prefer the original titles and don't understand the need for changes in English-speaking countries, no matter which dialect predominates. I'm having the same problem with Simenon's books, but that's more understandable because they are translations into English.

I do prefer A Coffin for Dimitrios (U.S.) for Eric Ambler's thriller, but it's probably because it is one of my mother's favorite books and all the copies she has were U.S. published. That's what i grew up hearing about and seeing.

As for Wych and Witch, many Americans perhaps do think wych is some odd, archaic spelling of witch. Besides that, anything about witches and witchery resonates with a lot of Americans who find them fascinating. I noticed that nowadays in the UK 'witch' is also substituted for 'wych' (for the tree, as well) among some residents. Is that becoming more common?

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vee_new

Frieda, don't ask me anything about spelling; it's not my strong point.

As for the wych elm, once so common in hedge rows and round field-edges, it has all but disappeared from the countryside since Dutch Elm Disease struck.

A while ago a BBC commentator was describing a 'State Visit' by Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and as her open carriage turned into the Mall near Buckingham Palace he was just about to say "And what a sorry sight it is to see the dying trees so ravaged by Dutch . . . ." apparently he had to do a very speedy edit of what he had planned to say.

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Rosefolly

Sorry to hear this, Vee. I had thought that the American elm was the only elm attacked by the disease, since I know that the Chinese and Siberian elms are immune. Work has been done here to develop resistant strains ('Princeton', 'Valley Forge', and 'New Harmony'). Once upon a time the American elm was the default street tree in the eastern United States. I suspect it will never regain that status, but I'd love to see it displace that wretched Callery/Bradford pear. Yes, it is pretty, but is fast becoming an invasive weed, and unlike the elm, of no environmental value here.

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