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September reading – poetry, poorly elephants, & astronauts

Excuse me. I’m slightly offended that we’re in October already, because I swear…

Excuse me.

I’m slightly offended that we’re in October already, because I swear it was June just … Well, actually, now I think about it, June feels like a few years ago. But I’m still sure September sort of shrank.

It’s been that sort of year. And while I certainly won’t say I’ll be sorry to see the back of 2020, I’m still somewhat offended that someone seems to be stealing time and confusing matters (more. Confusing matters more. I’m going to stop reading the news soon, because I can’t keep up).

However, October does mean lots of Halloween content everywhere, and the Little Furry Muse being even more relevant that she normally is, so there are benefits to September running away on me. Not that I’m suggesting Layla isn’t relevant ALL the time. Obviously. Um …

black cat, halloween, booklover, bookworm, september book chat, book reviews, good omens, the institute, poetry,

EVERY month is my month, human. EVERY MONTH.

What the month of Halloween doesn’t tend to mean for me (and hasn’t so far this year either) is any change in my reading habits. I’m not much of a seasonal reader. If I want to read a Christmas mystery in June, that’s what I’ll read. If summer holiday reads seem right in January, well, why not? But then, I am about the worst person ever when it comes to keeping up with new releases or trends or any of that sort of thing, so I never know much about what’s going on in that respect anyway.

So, as ever, there are no topical reads in this month’s collection. In fact, I’ve been all over the place as far as genre goes – from comfort reading to non-fiction and even a foray into some poetry. Read on for the details, then let me know in the comments if you’re a mood reader, a seasonal reader, or if you keep track of new releases!

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, Vaseem Khan. Sigh. I wanted to enjoy this so much more than I did. I mean, it was decent. I finished it. There was no throwing-across-the-room involved. I may even (maaaaybe) pick up another. But. But. The main reason I kept reading was because I was very concerned for the little elephant, Ganesha, whom Inspector Chopra had so unexpectedly inherited. Ganesha was most poorly, and I was far more worried about that than the whole (very unpleasant) crime network the inspector was uncovering. Which was unfair, as it was a decent mystery. But I found the secondary characters not particularly well developed, some plot points were a bit odd, and the way Inspector Chopra treated his wife annoyed me no end. And her character went from stoic to hysterical in the most bizarre manner.

So … Five slabs of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk for Ganesha, but he only has to share if he wants to. (Look, this is my personal rating system. I never said it made sense …)

“The only way to avoid falling prey to the perils of confusion is to never be confused about what you are. If you are an honest man, as I hope you will prove to be, never allow the circumstances of a moment to make you act against your nature. That way lies the ruin of everything you stand for.”

― Vaseem Khan, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra

The Institute, Stephen King. Look, I won’t say King can do no wrong, but I’ve been a Constant Reader since convincing Mum I was old enough for his books at about 11. (I accomplished this by offering her The Eyes of the Dragon, the book he wrote for his own children, to read. When it comes to books, I can be alarmingly conniving.) I then devoured every book of his I could get my hands on (including utterly terrifying myself with It at about 13), and I still consider a reread of pretty much anything of his to be comfort reading for me. Even with a new book, I feel I’m in safe hands. I know what I’m getting. And while he’s not exactly a concise writer (every time I read the Dark Tower series I get bogged down in Song of Susannah, because oh, God, it goes on forever…), I generally enjoy even the longwindedness.

So you won’t be surprised to hear that I enjoyed The Institute. Small, gifted child takes down brutal government organisation with the help of other small gifted children and a small-town cop. Classic King, and a fab read after a slow start. So let’s go with five cups of tea and all the cake.

“Great events turn on small hinges.”

― Stephen King, The Institute

Good Omens, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman. I was poorly this month. Not Covid, luckily – just a persistent stomach bug that meant both the SO and I spent almost a week on the sofa complaining to each other and Layla (who couldn’t understand what we were complaining about, as her preferred days are spent entirely on the sofa). It also meant comfort reads – and comfort views – were called for. And, honestly, does it get any better than Good Omens? I think not. If you have not read and/or watched it, do. It makes even poorly stomachs better. (And was a much better idea than the old series of Great British Bake Off we also binged, as that just made us want all the food when we couldn’t eat any of it …). Five bottles of a quite acceptable but rather surprised Chateau Lafitte 1875, and at least thirty-nine flavours of ice cream.

“It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.”

Neil Gaiman, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

good omens, neil gaiman, terry pratchett, book review, book chat, current reads, bookworm

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Chris Hadfield. I’m not much of a non-fiction reader – I like my science books on occasion (although I retain what I learn for approximately 0.56 minutes), and a little philosophy is always interesting. Memoirs, however, are less my thing. However, it’s pretty hard to resist a title like this by the man who sang Space Oddity on the ISS. And, overall, I’m so glad I picked it up. It’s neither autobiography nor a how-to guide on astronautery (I realise this is not a word, but I like it), nor even (as I feared) a well-meaning lecture regarding how much Colonel Hadfield learned by becoming an astronaut and what we should therefore learn from him. If I had to say what this book is about, I’d say mindset. What it takes to go into such extreme conditions, what it takes to get to the point where you’re able to, and what it takes to move on once you’ve done it. It’s humorous, neither self-aggrandising nor self-deprecating, and hugely interesting, interspersing anecdotes about his career both before and during the ISS with snippets that lean towards the philosophical. I like. Five Russian vodkas and a large freeze-dried meal.

“If you start thinking that only your biggest and shiniest moments count, you’re setting yourself up to feel like a failure most of the time.”

Chris Hadfield, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

Poetry 365, August 2020 edition, RDW. As a very, very irregular reader of poetry, I quite often feel it goes over my head – that I don’t read closely enough or am just not clever enough to understand what I’m reading. I used to enjoy poetry when I was a teen, but I was actually studying it a bit back then, so I guess I had my poetry head on. However, one way I’ve been getting back into it has been by reading the wonderful @kayt-of-wands on Instagram, as I love her work. So when she told me she was included in this anthology, I obviously had to get it – and it’s fab! A fantastic way to sample all sorts of different poetry, from light humour to more intense fare. I’m working my way through it slowly, and thoroughly enjoying it. I even think I understand some. Five large cups of tea and a couple of cookies to keep you going (and if you’re on IG, you can follow RDW here.

“They remind us to love, they remind us to seek peace, they remind us to fight for what we believe in.

This is poetry. One day at a time. 365 days of the year.”

RDW, Poetry 365, August 2020 edition

And now – onto the vid!

Over to you, lovely people – what are you looking forward to reading this month? What were your favourite reads from last month? Let me know below!

astronauts, book chat, book review, good omens, neil gaiman, philosophy, stephen king, Terry Pratchett, the institute

  1. Ganesha sounds like a fab character! Have you read The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared? It also has an unexpected elephant.

    1. Kim Watt says:

      Ganesha was just lovely. I would absolutely read a book about him and Poppy (Mrs Chopra) solving crime together, with breaks to watch Bollywood soap operas while eating popcorn on the sofa. That would wonderful!

      And I tried The 100 Year Old Man, quite a few years ago now – I found him very annoying, and couldn’t finish the book. I don’t remember exactly why now – I think I just felt him too grumpy to be interesting. I tried another of Jonas Jonasson’s books (Hitman Anders & the Meaning of it All), which I did finish but felt a bit meh about. The characters just didn’t engage me, so it may be that I simply don’t mesh with the style of his writing. Which I’m a little gutted about, because I love his titles and ideas.

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