One weekend recently, I was scrolling through Netflix and came across the movie Everest. Curious, I clicked on its profile to find a little more information and not only did it have a stellar cast, but the synopsis rang some familiar bells in my head. I vaguely remembered the 1996 Mount Everest disaster from the time it occurred, but no particular details. So I watched the movie and how the tragedy unfolded, as well as instances of survival and heroics, and only afterward did I fully realise that one of those mountaineers was the Jon Krakauer, author of the excellent Into the Wild. I think you can guess my next step – I tracked down a copy of Into Thin Air and devoured it in a few long reading sessions to get a deeper understanding of what happened. Marvellous.
Also high up there on the quality scale is SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard. Ancient History was one of the subjects I studied for my HSC and one of the units was called ‘Augustus and the Julio Claudians’. We studied the stretch of time between Octavian (renamed Augustus) coming to power and becoming the first emperor to the end of that era with the death of Nero. This book starts centuries before that period, back at the Romulus and Remus origin story/myth of Rome. A little note: I listened to the audiobook. I remember from my studies, sometimes, when I was reading the names on the page, they could get a little confusing due to their complexity. For some reason, it was much easier to grasp who was who when being told via earphones! If that makes sense.
So, if you’re into ancient history, or even have been to Rome (as we have), or other parts of Italy (like Pompeii), and fell in love with it then this book is for you. Additionally, I found this hour-long lecture by Mary Beard about the book on YouTube to supplement your reading!
Finally, we have Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, a novel that I’ve had to put down because I don’t think I’m quite emotionally ready for it at the moment. Ishiguro is such a master that sometimes with his books I read along, nodding and thinking to myself, ahhhh, he is just so, so good. But I will finish because I must know the ending. I am anticipating the need for tissues.
What are you reading this month?