Better late than never.
At the beginning of the year, I decided to participate in the Embarrassment of Riches reading challenge hosted by author Patricia Burroughs. The goal of the challenge is to make a dent in that stack of books I have been intending to read, but never got around to picking up.
Given the size of the pile I have amassed, I am aiming to get through 24 of them before the end of the year – a silver level accomplishment.
So what did I read in May?
- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre: I’m a sucker for a good spy novel, and le Carre’s George Smiley just might be my favorite fictional spy of all time. Tinker is set in the early seventies and weaves the reader through a spine-tingling maze of betrayal and treason as Smiley seeks to discover the mole within the “Circus” – a mole channeling operational intelligence to the KGB. The plot twists and turn as Smiley works to corner his prey, and in the process, exposes each of a wide cast of characters’ deepest, darkest secrets. I loved this book, though perhaps not quite as much as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, which was a work of pure genius, but Tinker is definitely true to the brilliance of le Carre’s mastery of the genre.
- Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War: 1937-1948 by Madeleine Albright: It took me a while to get through this work of non-fiction – three months, perhaps. That’s not to say it wasn’t a good read. It was. I just found it tedious. Albright is a thorough writer with a quick wit and offers up an unexpected barb or two to lighten up the heaviness of the period, but she tends to bury the reader in too much prologue and back history. The personal stories about her family experiences, memories of the war, and unrealized Jewish heritage were fascinating, though. I’m glad I took the time to finally finish it.
- I also finished Gospel of Freedom by Jonathan Rieder. Gospel is an interesting work that puts King’s iconic Birmingham jail letter into historical context. This was a new approach to this letter to me. I have read it before, but always from a literary perspective – audience, prose, etc. It’s not my favorite book on King, but I think any criticism I have stems from the writer’s tendency to ramble. Of course, this a new publication and not from my TBR list, but…
- The Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silva: I believe this is Silva’s first novel, and not at all what I was expecting. It’s set during World War II – didn’t see that coming; probably should have read the cover blurb. It’s also told from so many points of view, I have trouble keeping track of who’s who. Unlike his Allon novels, the hero is lukewarm and somewhat uninteresting. I find myself drawn to the female antagonist even though I know she is the enemy. She’s so much more engaging. Perhaps this is Silva’s intent. He has done this before – painted the bad guy in a sympathetic light, though not to this extent. We shall see how it ends. I will report back.
- Mark of the Assassin by Daniel Silva: Six chapters in and I haven’t met the hero yet. I don’t hold out much hope. It is obvious that Silva hasn’t hit his stride yet.
Progress toward goal: 9 of 24 read.
I need to step up my game.
So, what are you reading?