The Reading Project is independently run to provide reviews of books from a variety of genres, as well as engage in long-term projects of personal interest, including a reading of The Federalist Papers and all the Booker Prize winning novels since 1969. Contributions are welcome. More information can be found in our About/Blog page.

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▼ Recent Reviews
Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner

12 May 2021

The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis

30 April 2021

Waterland by Graham Swift

7 May 2021

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

26 April 2021

If We Were Villains by M.L.Rio

`19 April 2021

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

20 April 2021

The Memoirs of Moominpappa by Tove Jansson

15 April 2021

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

11 April 2021

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

9 April 2021

Agency by William Gibson

5 April 2021

The Peripheral by William Gibson

28 March 2021

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

14 March 2021

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

16 March 2021

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

4 March 2020

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

28 February 2021

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

23 February 2021

▼ Books Currently Being Read

Veniss Underground by Jeff Vandermeer

Veniss Underground
Jeff Vandermeer

Reviewer: Hasty

Vandermeer's debut novel...

Nicholas seeks to escape his demons in the city of Veniss' shadowy underground. But in so doing, he makes a deal with the devil himself. His twin sister, Nicola, embarks on a feverish search for him. And while discovering the city's hidden secrets, she'll spin her own hypnotic tale.

Nicola's lover Shadrach is haunted by her mysterious disappearance. In the grip of despair, he decides to embark on a mythic journey. Shadrach must steel himself to visit the nightmarish levels deep beneath the surface of the city to bring his love back to the light. For these depths hold perils that are both complex and chilling. There, he will find wonders beyond imagining . . . and horrors greater than the heart can bear.

STATUS: Reading.

The Old Devils

The Old Devils
Kingsley Amis

Reviewer: bikerbuddy

Winner of the Booker Prize, 1986...

Malcolm, Peter and Charlie and their Soave-sodden wives have one main ambition left in life: to drink Wales dry. But their routine is both shaken and stirred when they are joined by professional Welshman Alun Weaver (CBE) and his wife, Rhiannon.

STATUS: Reading.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

News of the World
Paulette Jiles

Reviewer: Toriaz

About this book...

It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember - strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become-in the eyes of the law-a kidnapper himself.

STATUS: Reading.

Win by Harlan Coben

Win
Harlan Coben

Reviewer: WaywardWoman

Coben's Latest Thriller...

Over twenty years ago, heiress Patricia Lockwood was abducted during a robbery of her family's estate, then locked inside an isolated cabin for months. Patricia escaped, but so did her captors, and the items stolen from her family were never recovered. Until now. On New York's Upper West Side, a recluse is found murdered in his penthouse apartment, alongside two objects of note - a stolen Vermeer painting and a leather suitcase bearing the initials WHL3. For the first time in years, the authorities have a lead not only on Patricia's kidnapping but also on another FBI cold case, with the suitcase and painting both pointing them towards one man. Windsor Horne Lockwood III - or Win as his few friends call him - doesn't know how his suitcase and his family's stolen painting ended up in this dead man's apartment. But he's interested, especially when the FBI tell him that the man who kidnapped his cousin was also behind an act of domestic terrorism, and that he may still be at large. The two cases have baffled the FBI for decades. But Win has three things the FBI does not: a personal connection to the case; a large fortune; and his own unique brand of justice ...

STATUS: Reading.

At Night All Blood Is Black by David Diop

At Night All Blood Is Black
David Diop

Reviewer: bikerbuddy

Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize, 2021...

Alfa and Mademba are two of the many Senegalese soldiers fighting in the Great War. Together they climb dutifully out of their trenches to attack France's German enemies whenever the whistle blows, until Mademba is wounded, and dies in a shell hole with his belly torn open.

Without his more-than-brother, Alfa is alone and lost amidst the savagery of the conflict. He devotes himself to the war, to violence and death, but soon begins to frighten even his own comrades in arms. How far will Alfa go to make amends to his dead friend?

STATUS: Reading.

▼ Special Reading Project Complete
The Federalist Papers

Our first long-term Special Reading Project, now complete!

The Federalist Papers were written in 1787 to 1788 to defend the new American Constitution against its critics. They interpreted the Constitution and have provided future generations guidance as to how the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to be interpreted.

The Federalist Papers, written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and America's fourth president, James Madison, cover issues of America's independence, including the need to ensure against foreign influence, as well as how the new Federal Government would operate. The Federalist Papers also deal with the separation of powers of the powers of each branch of government, including government oversight, which includes the power of Congress to impeach. For these reasons, The Federalist Papers are still important documents which have been referred to in debates about the presidency of Donald Trump.

You can now read summaries and commentaries of all 85 Federalist papers here on the Reading Project.

▼ Special Reading Projects

The Shortlist for the International Booker Prize for 2021 has been announced:

  • I Live in the Slums by Can Xue, translated from Chinese by Karen Gernant & Chen Zeping, Yale University Press
  • At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop, translated from French by Anna Mocschovakis, Pushkin Press
  • The Pear Field by Nana Ekvtimishvili, translated from Georgian by Elizabeth Heighway, Peirene Press
  • The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez, translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell, Granta Books
  • When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut, translated from Spanish by Adrian Nathan West, Pushkin Press
  • The War of the Poor by Éric Vuillard, translated from French by Mark Polizzotti, Pan Macmillan, Picador

This year the prize will be announced on 2 June.

The Booker Prize winner for 2020 is Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart. Margaret Busby, the chair for the 2020 judges, said of the book:

The heart-wrenching story tells of the unconditional love between Agnes Bain — set on a descent into alcoholism by the tough circumstances life has dealt her — and her youngest son. ... Gracefully and powerfully written, this is a novel that has impact because of its many emotional registers and its compassionately [realized] characters. The poetry in Douglas Stuart's descriptions and the precision of his observations stand out: nothing is wasted.

- Margaret Busby


View the list of all Booker Prize Winners and those we have so far reviewed by clicking here.

In the long term, we hope to review all the Booker Prize winners.

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexander Dumas

Reviewer: bikerbuddy

Click the cover or title to follow my summary as I read each chapter...

I am currently reading Alexander Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo as a long term reading project. I've chosen to make this a Special Project given the length of the novel. It has 118 chapters and over a thousand pages of close, small print.

The novel begins in the period just before Napoleon's escape from the island of Elba. Edmond Dantes is arrested and imprisoned after he is framed as a Napoleon conspirator. This is the story of his escape, how he finds his fortune and seeks revenge on those who betrayed him.

I am summarising each chapter as I read. When I eventually finish the novel I will also write it a review. In the meantime my progress can be checked by looking at the counter below, which indicates how many chapters are currently read and summarised.

Quote of the Week

For here is the man, and here is the case, that will provide an answer to this question: will a court of Senators convict a guilty man if he is rich?

Against Verres, Cicero

View an archive of Quotes of the Week

The pictures below represent places we have travelled or enjoy. In each picture there is someone who is reading. The photos represent the portability of books and the idea that they might be enjoyed almost anywhere.

Hancock House, Springwood, Australia

Hancock House, home to the Reading Project

Lily Pond, Faulconbridge, Australia

Now a rest spot, this lily pond was once the site of a quarry

Springwood Golf Course

Near the Country Club entrance where meals are served and a local trivia night is run each Thursday night.

Views of Parramatta, Australia

Parramatta was the site of Australia's first successful colonial farms. Now it is a growing metropolis.

The Parthenon, Athens, Greece

The Parthenon was built as part of the Athenian reconstruction after the Persian Wars 2500 years ago and was completed shortly before Athens' war with Sparta, which saw the end of Athenian military dominance.

Bondi Beach, Australia

Bondi Beach is famous for its white sands and the Bondi Baths at the Southern end of the Beach. Each year, Bondi hosts Sculptures by the Sea.

Book Nook, Innsbruck, Austria

An outdoor book exchange in a suburban neighbourhood in Austria.

Fitzgeralds Valley, NSW, Australia

The scenic Fitzgerald's Valley is located only two hours from Sydney.

Moorilda, NSW, Australia

Moorilda is typical of many rural New South Wales across the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.

Mt Pilatus, Switzerland

Reached by cable car, Mt Pilatus offers magnificent views across the Alps in the middle of winter.


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