Three Books this week, all generally brief reads, beginning with Larry McMurtry's Books. At the time I started it I was obsessed with reading it right at that moment even though I am not quite sure what possessed me, as book-collecting, or the collecting of anything particularly, is not one of my interests. But I was interested and I enjoyed the book, particularly the small bits about McMurtry's life. The early chapters particularly appealed as the author manages to capture his early pre-book life on a ranch in Texas in a way that was richly evocative, at least to me, in spare words that fitted the spare Texas landscape. I read those opening chapters aloud to G as we enjoyed our second cups of coffee and it was a lovely way to start a morning.
I found The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley far more fascinating and at times as gripping as a good novel. I didn't really read the book expecting to learn how to survive a disaster, I just wanted to read survivor's stories and get a sense of what they remembered. And I believe this was a good way to read this book; it does not hold up to great scrutiny. It is not particularly technical, and there are considerable oversimplifications. It is not a "how to" book, but it is interesting. The basic points are that people don't tend to panic as often as one might suppose but they do tend to freeze, and that we are each responsible for our own survival so that it would serve us well to think about what could happen and know our options before hand because we really won't be likely to figure them out when the unthinkable actually occurs.
Lastly, I read Peter Ackroyd's The Trial of Elizabeth Cree. This is something I just picked up from the library on a whim. I've never read any of Ackroyd's fiction and thought it would be interesting. It was well written with a colorful and atmospheric protrayal of Victorian London. At first I thought it was rather predictable, since we knew the ending at the beginning but appearances are deceiving in this novel. Even though I figured out the plot twist before the end, I still found the ending to be surprisingly haunting.