Amidst all the hectic festivalising over the last fortnight and more there has been some reading, too, so here are a few words on three books, beginning with the latest from that most relaxing, uplifting of writers, Alexander McCall Smith.
Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers is the ninth book in the 44, Scotland Street series, and if you're familiar with any of the other eight, you'll know the form. Written as a daily serial in The Scotsman newspaper, the book follows the lives of a group of residents of Edinburgh's New Town, and with wit, whimsy and the author's trademark charm, follows them hither and yon as their creator's fancy takes him. To give you a token plot strand or two - trouble in the ranks of the Scottish nudists, karma as a 'promoting factor' regarding one's Edinburgh address, the delights of The Penguin Café Orchestra, and 'gender-neutral' birthday presents for 7-year-old boys. Joy!
Changing the mood and the tone to something rather more bittersweet and wistful is The List of my Desires by Grégoire Delacourt. I gave a short introduction to it here, and having read it now I think that makes it sounds rather more up-beat than it is. It's a sad story about happiness; it concerns love and longing, appreciating what we have, and seeing what's right in front of us, and in part it's about having the courage to step into your dreams. It's a quick read but one which will make you think.
The other day I mentioned in passing Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and I called it "fun, sweet, warm-hearted, mad-in-a-good-way". It's a bizarre but lovely mixture of old books and typography, modern technology, a quest, a code, a secret society, a lot of Googling (i.e. an illuminating look inside Google HQ itself), the weirdest book club in the world and the search for .... something which I cannot reveal. Suffice to say, it is a treat and I loved it!