I seem to have read a lot of books this month that I don't really have that much to say about.. so mini review time it is!
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling
Obviously this was amazing (and a re-read). My husband has slowly been reading his way through the entire series, and I knew that if I started re-reading them as he was reading them I would end up irritating him, so I was waiting for him to finish to indulge in some proper comfort reading.
The last time I read Harry Potter (in English - I have read the first one at least in German and Japanese since then!!) was years ago, so I had forgotten how many little jokes and things there are scattered through the books that make me smile. I ended up reading this when I was in the middle of trying to read Five Days at Memorial, because my slightly cold-addled brain couldn't comprehend it any more, and it was just what I needed!
Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M. C. Beaton
This is another book that I read whilst trying to get through Five Days at Memorial, and again it was just what I needed! I'm sure British people will have heard of the Agatha Raisin series, but if you haven't, it's based around a woman who has retired and moves to the Cotswolds to a village where lots of murders seem to happen (I assume). This is the first book in the series, and is about her moving there, and trying to fit into the village by entering a quiche competition which ends in murder.
It's a bit daft, but the actual character of Agatha Raisin is unusual in that she's actually quite unlikeable, but pretty fun to read about. All in all, it's quite silly, but lots of fun and oh so very British, and seeing as Britain is so very far away, it's nice to read something like that once in a while. (Harry Potter is kind of similar in its Britishness... maybe being sick makes me slightly homesick?) I will definitely have to remember to keep the other Agatha Raisin books in mind when I want something light and entertaining. I only wish that there were charity shops near here where I had a chance of finding the books for cheap!
Foundation by Isaac Asimov
This is my second Asimov book. I read The Gods Themselves ages ago and really loved the middle section (and thought the beginning and end section were okay), and I was hoping that Foundation would have at least a section on the same level as the middle section of The Gods Themselves... and it didn't really. But seeing as I have since read reviews of The Gods Themselves saying that it might be the best thing that Asimov wrote, my expectations were almost definitely too high.
The book is about a group of people who travel to the far reaches of the universe to work on an encyclopedia... which is a pretty interesting idea! I was fascinated by the encyclopedia idea, but the story quickly changed into lots of important people having important conversations with each other and outfoxing each other. Which was fun, but towards the end I realised that in the whole book, which covers over a century of this new society being established there were TWO female characters (that I noticed!). One is a servant girl who gets excited by some pretty jewellery, and another is the nagging wife of one of the male characters. Not great. I get that this was probably a consequence of the time when it was written, but.. hmm. It doesn't particularly encourage me to read more!
I sort of want to read the next book, as this one was more a collection of short stories about the foundation (see what I did there?) of this new society, but... I'm not convinced that this will ever happen! It's not a bad book by any means (apart from the lack of female characters - because half of the population of the new society isn't worth mentioning?), but it just wasn't my thing.
Oh and in the book they say "Space!" and "Galaxy!" instead of swearing. Which is fun, and something I might try to incorporate into my everyday speech!
The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson
Fascinating look into slightly insane techniques that have been tried out in the American military. I found this when I read the psychopath test a few years ago too, but I always feel like I should like Jon Ronson books WAY more than I do. I'm not sure what it is about the books, but although I find the subject matter interesting, there's something that stops me from finding the whole book as enjoyable as I feel I should. Maybe I just don't like his writing style? I'm not entirely sure...
The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo
My parents LOVE Jo Nesbo, and as almost all of the e-book versions were really cheap a while ago I thought I would give him a try. This is actually the third Harry Hole book, but it was the first published in the UK which is why I got it. I would have preferred to try the first book, but never mind. This is why I should do more research before I buy things!
There were certain parts of the book where I found it hard to put down (even when I really should have done as it was already late and I had work the next day). In general I thought that the story was good, and I learned a load of stuff that I didn't know about Norway and its role in World War II, but I don't think that I'll be reading any of the others. Yet again, I have reminded myself that I'm just not a massive fan of crime as a genre (when it comes to books, anyway). I told this to my parents when I skyped them earlier and they recommended me a different crime series that they thought I might like, so maybe I'll give that a try at some point! I do like the idea of having a series of books that I know I'll enjoy!
Screen Burn by Charlie Brooker
I have actually been reading this really slowly over the course of the last 5 or 6 months, reading one or two columns before sleeping. I have loved Charlie Brooker's columns for years now, and this is a collection of them. They're from between 2000 to 2004, and mostly diatribes about how rubbish TV is (with the occasional thing that he actually liked). He gets a bit obsessed by 24 which made me feel really nostalgic! He also talks about loads of programmes that I had completely forgotten about, and the early episodes of talent based TV competitions which are somehow still going. If you like the way he writes, enjoy his rage, and want to enjoy a nostalgic look back at TV from over 10 years ago, you will enjoy it!