Marcus Alexander Hart – Alexis vs. The Merry Menace – Fantasy/Detective/Weird – Very amusing novella – former child star accompanied by a couple of ghosts solves mysteries. This one involves Santa and Krampus. Very amusing. I think one is supposed to read Alexis vs. The Afterlife first.

Bel Kaufman – Up the Down Staircase (audiobook) – Memoir – Interesting and poignant collection of interwoven stories of the author’s first year as a substitute teacher in New York. Really good. The narrator handles a lot of different voices very well

Jane Austen – Persuasion (audiobook) – Fiction – I wanted to read/listen after seeing the latest film version. After mentioning to my mom that I’d seen it, she forwarded an article detailing a very pertinent detail that the Netflix version leaves out: The fact that the novel takes place in that break in the Napoleonic wars when Napoleon was in exile and armed forces had come home and just before they’re all called up again. I chose a multi-actor reading on Librivox that was good, but not fantastic. I think a more focused single-reader version might have been better.

Dorothy L. Sayers – Whose Body – Detective Fiction – I wanted to enjoy this more than I did. However, being the first in its series (Lord Peter Wimsey) and possibly Sayers’ first novel, I can forgive a lot. There was a warning in the introduction of antisemitism. Yes, there are antisemitic characters, and one of the victims is indeed Jewish, but I think Sayers handled these things with sufficient panache.

Christopher Isherwood – Christopher and His Kind – Memoir – This was fascinating. I mostly know Isherwood through A Single Man (first the excellent movie with Colin Firth, then the novel) and Cabaret (just the movie). In this memoir, composed in the 70s, Isherwood recounts the late 20s and early 30s, including the period in Berlin, but also travels through Europe with his lover Heinz (trying admirably, but failing, to get him a visa to escape conscription into the German army at the beginning of the Nazi era), the US, and China. The ‘Kind’ of the title refers to comrades/compatriots/lovers (in a few cases) Stephen Spender, WH Auden, EM Forster among others. Paul Bowles is namechecked as the source for Sally Bowles’ last name. Virginia Woolf puts in an appearance (some of Isherwood’s early work was published by the Woolfs’ Hogarth Press), as do several others. Fascinating stuff.

Currently reading Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (slowly) and The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (much more quickly).