Wednesday 20 June 2012

May Reads

Now I know these reviews are terribly late and its now nearing the end of June, but I've been super busy with work recently and haven't had as much time as I would like to read.  I have also chosen more whimsical and non-fiction books this month, not for any particular reason but I suspect it is just my current mood!

The Dark Tourist - Dom Joly
I downloaded this book as an impulse purchase after reading British Beauty Blogger’s review.  I am the first to admit I used to find Dom Joly’s ‘Trigger Happy’ series immensely irritating and not particularly funny, so I was surprised I enjoyed this book as much as I did!  The premise is that Dom Joly decides to visit six different countries to explore our fascination with ‘dark tourism’ – that is when we visit places or countries where something macabre happened,  the scene of someone’s death or just a particularly dangerous country that is an out of the ordinary tourist destination.

Joly visits Chernobyl, Cambodia and Iran amongst other places, but the chapter I was most fascinated in was his visit to North Korea.  A first-hand account of what it feels like to be a tourist in a country where everything you experience is orchestrated and nothing is as it seems, was engrossing and almost difficult to imagine, but Joly writes well and injects just the correct amount of humour into situations to prevent it from being a regular travelogue.  A recommended read if, like me you are interested in travel, and I whizzed through this in a couple of days.

Hospital Babylon - Imogen Edwards-Jones & Anonymous

If you have read any of the other 'Babylon' series, you will be familiar with the formula- details of what really happens in a particular workplace, whether it be a hotel, airplane or as a wedding planning are provided, anonymously of course, and loosely woven into a story. In the case of 'Hospital Babylon', a day in the life of an A&E doctor is told with true confessions and stories, some of which I found more plausible than others.

The Babylon series is, I admit, one of my guilty reading pleasures - not a particularly taxing read  but a  very quick one, and I found it just as interesting as the others I have read.  If you are new to the series, I would probably recommend the first one, 'Hotel Babylon' to start, although if you are currently planning a wedding, 'Wedding Babylon' is a great read for Bridezilla stories! 

Queuing for Beginners - Joe Moran
This was a bit of a departure from my usual reading material but I was really glad I gave it a try.   It explores the history of common routine activities that we do every day without a second thought, from breakfast to commuting to sitting down in front of the TV before bed.  

For such a simple premise, the book could be quite staid and dull but I found it anything but. I really enjoyed reading the history behind why these habits have developed and what they say about the culture of Britain today.  I'd recommend this to anyone who has wondered why our little habits develop and what routes they have in our society.  

This is Life - Dan Rhodes

I saved the best till last this month.  I adore Dan Rhode's work and when I found out he had a new novel out I couldn't wait to read it!  I will start by saying that his books aren't for everyone but if you enjoy a comic, whimsical novel, with vibrant characters, then this will be just up your street.  

The novel is set in Paris and revolves around an art student Aurelie, who throws a stone into the air one day that sets in motion a chain of events that will turn her life upside down.  This book really does feel like it has everything in it -love, laughs and a man who stands naked in a theatre for three months in the name of art!  Despite that strange summary, the book reminded me strongly of the film Amelie and I could see this novel translating well to film.  In my opinion, the book does not surpass my favourite Dan Rhodes novel, 'Little Hands Clapping' but it was an excellent read. 

Have you read any good books this month?


  1. I've got This is Life on my amazon wishlist already x

    1. I loved it, its quirky and a great read. You will want to go to Paris after reading it!

  2. The Queuing for beginners sounds like a giggle!