Saturday, October 6, 2012
52 Books in 52 Weeks: September
The Psycopath Test - Jon Ronson
How Georgia Became O'Keefe - Karen Karbo
Shadowfell - Juliet Marillier
Confession #1. There is something particularly enjoyable about being able to answer the question "What are you reading?" with "A book about psycopaths." Jon Ronson's book, The Psycopath Test, dips its toe into the world of psycoptherapy, the diagnosis of 'madness' and the world of psycopaths. I enjoyed it, but I'd recommend it with caution. It is an easy and entertaining read, but that's about it and after a while I found Ronson's approach quite irritating. Ronson is an established journalist and yet his approach is to jump randomly from one topic to another, never quite giving any one the attention or degree of research it deserves. Rather than delve deeply he takes one incident or person, hypothesises and moves on. He would make a fantastic dinner guest, but not if there were any experts at the table. Good for a plane journey, but quote his findings with caution.
Confession #2. I'd never heard never heard of Georgia O'Keefe before we visited New Mexico in 2009. Sure, now I know that O'Keefe is one of the US's most celebrated artists but back then I had no idea. But you can't spend long in Santa Fe and Taos though without being drawn into the world of O'Keefe's incredible paintings and her love of the landscape and light. Karen Karbo's style is very different from what you'd normally expect from biographies. As much about her own discovery of O'Keefe, the book provides a somewhat irreverent journey into O'Keefe's life. Written in a very funny and conversational style, Karbo presents a woman whose passion, eccentricity and independence shaped her evolution as an artist and as a woman. It is a terrific read for those who know of O'Keefe's work and for those looking for inspiration in their own creative endeavours.
Confession #3. I'm a long time fan of Juliet Marillier's writing. Ok, so that's not a very exciting confession, but it's the best I've got. I really enjoyed Shadowfell, the second series Juliet has written for YA readers (Her first, Wildwood Dancing / Cybele's Secret is one of my favourites.) This novel takes a slightly different path from Juliet's other books, with Neryn, the heroine of the story, actively trying to shut away her magical abilities. While many of Juliet's other protagonists actively embrace the fey world, for Neryn to do so means to risk death or worse: the Shadowfell world being one of authoritarian rule and a fear of those with magical powers. Neryn is a lovely character whose struggle with identity and her destiny arcs well across the book. I'm looking forward to the sequel.
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