The Night Watch: Sarah Waters (audio)
My main audio book of the month. I've blogged about this separately. I was impressed by this novel, and it has stayed with me since I finished it. Much better than I expected it to be.
The Story of Life: Richard Southwood
A popular science book about the evolution of life on earth, giving a brief but interesting overview of each era, including those which tend to get overlooked such as the Ordovician. Richard Southwood was Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, so you might think 'uninterested in being readable' but this is actually quite competently and sensibly written. None of the content of this book would be new to anyone who has read around this subject, but I found it as entertaining as (say) a film adaptation of a novel that I had enjoyed in another medium.
Why things are the way they are: B. S. Chandrasekhar
I've read this before. It's about how the properties of matter reflect sub-atomic structures. That's something you either want to hear about or not. It's a topic I was intensely curious about at school but teachers didn't like you to ask questions, and hence as an adult I have been keen to fill in my knowledge.
The Ancestor's Tale: Richard Dawkins (audio)
I've blogged about this before. I liked it. The final section is about his theory that RNA was probably the precursor of proteins as well as (obviously) the precursor of DNA. He went into this in great detail, and it was a little laborious but I've never heard it set out so fully.
Celandine: Steve Augarde
A children's book. The only book this month I wouldn't really recommend. It's about a girl growing up at the time of WW1 who makes contact with the little people. It's the sequel to 'The Various' which won the Smarties Prize. However, I didn't think it was that well written. Not awful though - I finished it at least.
Matter: Iain M Banks (audio)
I haven't finished this yet. I am enjoying it a lot. I didn't much get on with 'Excession' and 'The Algebraist' but this seems like quite a return to form. Full-on imagination as we have come to expect, and less irritating that most of his recent work. I'm really enjoying the reading by Toby Longworth, which I think has made the book funnier and livelier than it might have been. I'll do a longer post on Matter once I've finished it.
The Game: Diana Wynne Jones
I read this in an evening. A very short children's book which brings the struggle between the Titans and other old gods against Jupiter ('Uncle Jolyon') and the Olympian establishment into the present day. For instance Baba Yaga is an Eastern European migrant worker and Atlas doesn't hold the world on his shoulders - he struggles to support the Internet. It was fun because all the myths are there but not explained - for instance Actaeon pursued by his hounds makes an appearance, but is never named or explained. The first time we see Sisyphus he is a farmer whose tractor keeps breaking down. Fun, very quick, a little subversive.