January 2024 books

Rather than leaving a round up of all the books I've read until the end of the year, I'm going to try giving them a quick write-up on a monthly basis. They're not all going to be in-depth book reviews, just general parting thoughts.

Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie

I bought this book for my wife a few years ago. She's a fan of the Poirot TV shows but I don't think she'd read any of the books. Despite this not being the first in the series featuring Poirot, it's probably the most well-known so I started here.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It took a few pages to get into Christie's writing style, in particular her fairly regular use of French (which doesn't get translated) so that sometimes tripped me up. I can feel the cogs in my head trying to figure out what it might mean which sometimes interrupted the reading flow.

That said, the plot of the book is straight forward and easy to follow. The slow drip of clues and details of the murder case slowly being revealed to the climax where Poirot solves the mystery (spoiler).

I also bought Lu the book of Death on the Nile some time ago so I plan to read that at some point this year too. Who knows, maybe it'll kick-start a Poirot murder mystery reading marathon!

As an aside, after reading the book, I re-watched the 2017 film of the same name. Some details were changed but overall it was a pretty faithful adaptation. If you've seen the film recently and fancy reading the book, give it a little break. By the time I read the book, I'd all but forgotten how the film ended so it was like reading a brand new story.

Raw Drawing: Spontaneous and Carefree Drawing, Alessandro Bonaccorsi

I picked up this book at a reduced price, just a few quid. Once I started reading, it became clear that it was really aimed at people who are just starting out on their art journey. I read it all the same in case there were any little nuggets of gold but ultimately, I didn't get much out of reading this. I'm holding on to the book for now in case I come across anyone who might benefit from reading it.

The Sketchbook of Loish: Art in progress, Lois van Baarle

I got this book for Christmas along with Loish's first book and I struggled to put them both down.

Both books are filled with thoughts on process, hints and tips which really gives you some insight into how Lois approaches her work which I found very inspiring. These books are definitely ones which deserve regular re-reads, even if just picking out certain sections.

Her third book will be getting purchased and read at some point this year.

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters: Vol 1-3, Chris & Laura Samnee

For the last couple of years, it's been somewhat of a small tradition for me to get a new volume of this series for Christmas. As it's been nearly a year since I last read volumes 1 and 2, I decided to re-read them to give me a bit of a memory refresh before starting volume 3, which (sadly) concludes the series.

A really great adventure comic featuring huge monsters, lots of action and a story of a family broken apart by the appearance of said monsters. It's got bloody lovely art throughout too so it hits all the right notes for a comic.

Turning Point: 1997-2008, Hayao Miyazaki

This is the last book completed in January and I'll be honest, it was a bit of a struggle at certain points. I'd bought it assuming it'd be somewhat closer to Loish's books in that it would give real insight into the process of this Japanese animation legend. Which it does for some parts many of the topics enclosed go a lot further afield than just animation and the creative process.

I imagine if someone's studying Miyazaki in an academic sense, this book will be a treasure trove of quotes and insights into his thoughts on various parts of Japanese history, society in general, consumer culture, nature and environment etc.

For a regular joe reader (like me), this book really could have been streamlined. There are lots of repeated ideas, given that much of the book consists of interviews with the director where the interviewers asked similar questions and frankly, some of the topics of discussion didn't really interest me personally. I know Miyazaki has a life-long interest in aviation and you definitely get the sense that he's very knowledgeable on the subject, but it's just not for me and when there's a whole interview spanning 10+ pages on that subject alone, it becomes a bit of a struggle to get through.

I don't think I'll ever re-read this book again cover-to-cover but the sections where it delves into his films or his thoughts on animation will get a look over again at some point.

That's it for this month. I've got a few books on the go at the moment that will spill over into February, some will go into March and possibly April but I'll write those up in the coming months.

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