Monday, May 26, 2014

Summertime, and the reading is series

I can't help it, I like a good series. I think I hinted at this, at least, in my Anne of Green Gables post; I have that sort of gotta catch em all compulsion when it comes to book series. (See also the Dragonriders of Pern books.) (Oh, Pern.) Here in adulthood (?) however, I have learned that it's okay to just move on and not finish the series if I feel like it. One advantage of this is that you don't get caught in an obsessive-compulsive reading cycle (always a plus); another that I've discovered recently is that it's really nice to come back to a series when you've been away. So here are three series I've picked back up in the last week or so.*

So, first up: the SPQR series by John Maddox Roberts. I read a couple of these on Kindle a few years ago and enjoyed them, and recently I saw fellow classics nerd and all-around cool person Meg was reading them, so off I went to the library. After a rather frustrating hunt through the forest of Nora Roberts books (I like to get my books off the shelves myself like an honest woman, but this experience convinced me of the superiority of placing holds), I grabbed volume 6 here, the library not owning 3-5.

These are such fun books. They manage to balance the conventions of detective stories with a historical setting that doesn't have detectives or modern policing in a way that's fun and effective and not at all tedious. There are some blatantly exposition-y passages but I didn't mind them; it's all directly related to the plot and it's ancient Rome so maybe I'm just more willing to give it a pass in general. The main character (and narrator) makes me laugh, he's such a perfect grouchy, cynical Roman.

More historical mystery: the Max Liebermann series was the first thing I wrote about on this blog! I see in that post I wrote:
I liked them, and would have kept going for probably another couple of books if this were 2014 and there were another couple of books in the series.
I remember when I got to the end of the available books that the stories were starting to feel same-y, and I'm pleased to report that taking a couple of years off helps address that problem. Death and the Maiden has a high-level-government-conspiracy thing going on as well as a cameo by Mahler (admittedly easier to achieve when you're writing a novel) and the SVU-level psychoanalysis I noted in that first post. I didn't really follow the conspiracy plot very well, and I'm not sure that the book was all that successful on the whole, but I did like being back with the characters, so this series and I can part amicably until the next time I stumble across a new volume.

And finally, which it's only THE GREATEST SERIES OF ALL TIME. You and Dr. Huang can draw your own conclusions from the fact that I, the compulsive completist, stopped reading these two from the end expressly because I didn't want to be done with them. However, as I had picked up the above series I decided it was time to finally read the last two Aubrey/Maturin books. The Hundred Days was a nice reminder of how much I love these books, even if, in itself, I didn't think was the finest installment of the series. I have to go back to the library for Blue at the Mizzen, but in the meantime I'm re-reading Desolation Island which is one of the ones I own (the first couple chapters with Jack on land just kill me).

I suppose there's also the published chapters of 21, but I don't know how I feel about those. (Basically, they published what Patrick O'Brian had written of the latest book at the time of his death, if you don't know what I'm talking about.) But a few chapters, without an actual book, and without any sort of revisions, isn't all that appealing to me. I don't get much out of fragments. But then I'm sure my completist impulse will compel me to check them out anyway.

Proud to share reading tastes with Ron Swanson

I hope you're all feeling the joy of warmer weather; I've been reading outside quite a bit this long weekend, it's madness.

* Each of these books I read in about a day. I'm telling you, I'm having this crazy-awesome reading moment.

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