This Month I Have Mostly Been Reading…

1. Harvest by Jim Crace

the harvest

Why should you read it?

Sublime, elegantly crafted prose and a captivating story, Harvest is the excuse you’ve been looking for to stay out of the cold, wet weather and bask in the golden suns of autumns past.

Why did I read it?

Harvest came on my radar during the 2013 Man Booker promotional whirlwind. My heart sank when I read about an exceptionally well-written tale based on the parable of The Wheat and the Tares, in which a village is turned upside-down upon the arrival of a group of strangers.

On the face of it, a plot so close to the novel I was scoping out that I nearly jacked the whole thing in. So I resisted reading Harvest, stuck my head in the sand and continued with my own work. In the end, curiosity masquerading as market research got the better of me and I took the plunge.

Favourite line: ‘Secrets are like pregnancies hereabouts. You can hide them for a while but then they will start screaming.’

2. Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth


Why should you read it?

For the razor-sharp characterisation and pant-wettingly funny writing.

Why did I read it?

In a bid to brush up on my rather lax play consumption, I Googled ‘plays you have to read’ and Jerusalem came up too many times to not take note.

Favourite line: (About a tortoise that is being used as a barter for a drug hit)

Lee: That wasn’t even his tortoise. It was his sister’s tortoise.

Rooster: Well now it’s my tortoise. Little bugger pisses everywhere. It pisses pints. It’s like the TARDIS.

3. The Histories by Herodotus, translated by Tom Holland


Why should you read it?

Unlike modern-day historians who steer clear (or are supposed to) from passing personal opinion, Herodotus doesn’t hold back, making The Histories an entertaining insight into the ancient world.

Why did I read it?

I was researching the myth of the phoenix for a short story I am working on and The Histories is one source. Coincidentally, this was a title from my Christmas book haul so I didn’t have to go far for the research. I’ve not read this from cover to cover, but it’s a great dip in and dip out sort of book. 

Favourite line: I’ve not found one yet.

4. Natural History by Pliny the Elder


Why should you read it?

One of the first attempts at an encyclopedia of sorts, Natural History is astounding for the sheer amount of observations and knowledge that has stood the test of time and been scientifically verified.

Why did I read it?

Another one for the phoenix research, but it also contains whole sections dedicated to Botany and Materia Medica to support my novel viability scoping. Unlike the Herodotus, I read most of this one sitting.

Favourite line: In everything, it is the nature of the human mind to begin with neccessity and end in excess.

5. The Wrong Quarterly, ed. Arianna Reiche

wrong quarterly

Why should you read it?

The Wrong Quarterly is a relatively new literary magazine accepting previously unpublished fiction, non-fiction, life-writing and essays. The creative bar is high and subject matter varied making it a great read if you don’t have the time to commit to a long piece of work (fiction @WrongQuarterly and @ariannareiche on Twitter for more information.

Why did I read it?

All of the above.

Favourite line: ‘His shoes are villanously heavy, suddenly’ from Lux Tatouage by Arianna Reiche

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