Monday Question – What Have You Been Reading Lately?

An off-topic question for your today (although you can always recommend a perfume book of course!):

Which good book did you read lately?

What would you recommend for a suspenseful, harrowing, heart-wrenching or funny read?

What genre of books do you prefer? Are you a crime-maven, love-story fiend or are you mostly happy with non-fiction?


My Answer:

I just finished a book called Apple Tree Yard yesterday. I read it very quickly because it was very hard to put down. I can highly recommend it if you are looking for an entertaining and intelligent read. (Thanks to Tara for mentioning it!)

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty is the story of a successful and reasonably happy middle-aged wife and mother of two grown-up children who finds herself uncharacteristically starting an affair with a mysterious man which leads to a series of events that will irrevocably change her life forever. This one sentence doesn’t sound too original, but don’t be turned off by my unimaginative synopsis. I don’t want to give too much away from what is truly a very well-thought out and well-written crime novel.

There are some books I read again and again and if asked recommend: the top three of those are Stephen King’s The Stand, John Irving’s A Prayer For Owen Meany and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History ( I loved her latest novel The Goldfinch too, but it is too fresh yet to belong into my all-time favorite list 🙂 ).

What have you read lately? What are your all-time favorite books?


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79 Responses to Monday Question – What Have You Been Reading Lately?

  1. haefennasiel says:

    I’ve already started reading Salman Rushdie’s “The Enchantress of Florence” and to balance things out, those shoddy Regency-era romance novels (one of my many guilty pleasure). =)

  2. cookie queen says:

    Gregory David Roberts – Shantaram.
    Turned onto it by Jordan. Bit slow reading it due to workload but it is utterly brilliant. Am nearing the end.
    And I love the British Sunday papers when I can get them. xxx

  3. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Oh, all time favouite books – that’s even more difficoult than with parfums ! I’m an avid reader, so there were quite a few books in my lifetime alerady. However, these days I rarely feel that excitement anymore what I experienced back in my teenage years with the Catcher in the Rye, or Catch 22 – or with Hundred years of Solitude. I’d also like to mention Siri Hustvedt (“What I Loved”) – one of the books I can’t forget. I read a lot of crime stories, because it’s easy to take them on my weekly business trips – effortless reading, even with limited brain activity after a stressfull day. I especially like those happening in London – always happy when I can follow their route.

  4. Heya.
    Currently I am in the middle of Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy who I find so readable. Her usual mix of nothing and something.
    Finished Terry Pratchett’s Dodger the day before yesterday. A fun fantasy romp through and under the streets of Snkh Morpork. Really enjoyable silliness.
    My go to books are Dune, Lord of the Rings, anything Anne McCaffery, the Brontes, Bill Bryson, all the fantasy genre and autobiographies
    Portia xx

  5. Ines says:

    Ha! Got me with your Monday question. 🙂
    I just finished Cronin’s The Twelve and enjoyed it (not as much as The Passage though). I just started World War Z (which I wanted to read ever since watching the movie) and I’m loving it. It’s such a brutally honest (and scary) view of what the world is like and how we are going to kill ourselves off (the means is less important than what humans are actually capable of).

    My all time favorite books include the HP series of course which I re-read for the beginning of my year. It’s my go-to series when I’m under stress which seems quite often as I re-read the series at least twice a year.
    I haven’t read King since forever and now that I saw two recommendations in 2 days, I think I’ll go and get myself something of his to read.
    Several of my all time favorite books are written by a Croatian writer, Marija Jurić Zagorka, who unfortunately isn’t translated into English. 😦
    Otherwise I’d be sending her books all over the world… 😉

  6. florence raab says:

    Hello everybody!!! what an interesting question once more 🙂 I’m reading “Tendre est la nuit’ by Fitzgerald, great, so moving. I usually read one thriller, one novel, one thriller, one novel. Birgit, I’m mad of Donna Tart and can’t wait to discover her new baby. I almost read all Stephen King, Stefan Zweig, Laura Kaciscke, Patrick Modiano, Coben, I love Albert Camus La Peste and Les Justes, historic novels about the XVIIIth century in France, I love Jane Austen……so many authors and books to discover, it’s wonderful.

  7. Alexandra says:

    Another great question! I am also all for a balance when it comes to my reading choices: I have just finished ‘The Goldfinch’ too which I absolutely adored and I am now reading ‘Quantum Demonology’ which is a wonderful contrast and just so darn readable (and how could I not love a Serge Lutens wearing heroine??).

    All-time favourites is a tough one though – can I have: Wild Swans, Sophie’s World, Persuasion, Winnie the Pooh, The Night Circus and anything by Barbara Kingsolver for a start?

  8. Sandra says:

    Just finished Mimi and also The Quincunx. All time favorites – tough one. Have read Catcher in the Rye so many times I have lost count. I also go back to The Hobbit, anything by Enid Blyton, Bryce Courtnay, Elisabeth Lowell. Enjoyable reads with my son are Cornelia Funke books and the Moomin series.

  9. Tara says:

    So happy Apple Tree Yard was a winner for you, B. Have you read The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty? If not have a look at that.

    I have to say I’m struggling with Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life but I think that’s just me and I may still get into it. I tend to read literary stuff interspersed with fantasty novels which are my guilty pleasure. A lot of perfumistas seem to love crime fiction but it’s all a bit too real for me.

  10. Farouche says:

    My all-time favorite book is the timeless Pride and Prejudice, which tell us in a most entertaining style all we need to know about human nature.

    Good reads are Possession by A.S. Byatt and the aforementioned The Goldfish and The Quincunx.

    I just finished The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson, the author of the Moomin series. This short novel explores personal boundaries and deceit between two women during a long Scandinavian winter. Beautifully written.

    Current reads are the Gabriel Allon series of spy thrillers by Daniel Silva. Allon is an Israeli spy/assassin, and the stories take place throughout Europe and Russia. There are ten books in the series, and I’ve read the first four, which have been well-researched and well-written.

  11. fruwinther says:

    Just finished The Cookoo’s calling by Robert Galbraith (aka. JK Rowling), and I really liked it. Before that, I read Les Miserables by Victor Hugo and Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. Getting though “Anna”.. took me ages, not becaise the book isn’t good, but because it’s so crowded with people- I had to stop an flip back a cuple of chapters every now and then to remember who they actually were…I just ordered Quantum Demonology, very much looking forward to that one. Favourite book just MIGHT be Lord of the Rings- I love it and read it every 2-3 years.

  12. Tora says:

    I loved The Stand, and Owen Meany, also. I found The Golfinch to be overly long, and in need of editing. I thought the story was fairly good, but I found myself so frustrated with the protagonist’s poor choices. There were opportunities that opened up possibilities of redemption, that he let slip by, and the philosophical navel gazing became tiresome after a while. I may check out her other book though! I read a lovely book recently, The Night Circus. Full of fantasy, magic, romance and bravery. Loved it! I am reading The Ghost Bride at the moment. It is a captivating story of a young Chinese girl’s adventures with the convoluted and magical spirit world of Chinese culture. I read Joyce Carol Oates Carthage just before this and it too, was a story of bad choices with a depressing theme. I need some more uplifting stories in my life!!

  13. Dearest Brigit
    I always have, partly for what passes for occupational reasons, several books on the go at once.
    But solely for pleasure at present I’m re-reading The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens and loving them every bit as much as I did twenty years ago when I read them first.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  14. cj says:

    I also recently read and loved The Goldfinch! The last few years I’ve been bouncing between international crime fiction and contemporary literary fiction, with some classic novels thrown in for good measure. After burning through about a million crime series from Nordic/Scandinavian authors, I’ve been branching out to some authors from other parts of the world like the Sicilian Andrea Camilleri, whose Inspector Montalbano is refreshingly odd, and Georges Simenon with his classic Inspector Maigret series.

    I’m currently reading The Orenda by Joseph Boyden, which is a beautiful and brutal story of early Canadian history, told by a young Iroquois girl, a Huron warrior, and a French Jesuit missionary. It is terrific so far, and I would highly recommend all of Boyden’s books! My recommendation for funny books would be everything by the late 😦 David Rakoff (well, I haven’t read his last book yet, which was a bit of a departure for him – an entire novel written in rhymed couplets). Even better than reading his books is to listen to them in audio format, since he was a wonderful storyteller and had an incredible voice. He did a lot of great stuff on This American Life as well. As for all-time favourites, I’ve always adored The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and The Summer Book by Tove Jansson.

  15. Dubaiscents says:

    I just started reading the Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (Booker Prize winner) but, my last book was a quick and completely hilarious book of a bunch of blog posts about parenting called “I just want to pee alone”. It almost makes me want to start reading parenting blogs but, then I see my backlog of perfume blogs to read and I think again 🙂 I also really love to read short stories, Alice Munro is one of my favorite authors in this genre (pretty much any of her short story collections are wonderful!).

  16. I’ve been reading more poetry lately. More specifically Pavese and Blake.


    • Olfactoria says:

      That suits you, Caro. Beauty to beauty.

    • Figuier says:

      Yay Blake! I was given a fascimile of his illustrated edition of the Book of Job last year and have been revisiting it alongside the much earlier Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Awesome (in both senses). Usually I read mainly poetry unless I’m on holiday, partly because novels are too addictive. At the moment though my reading-for-pleasure is Lanark by Alasdair Gray, a bizarre but completely absorbing hybrid of Bildungsroman, gritty urban realism, and scifi/dystopia. Highly recommended so far (though maybe not to Tora, the main character makes a lot of bad decisions…in fact given the scenario there might not be any good ones available). Apart from that I’m inching my way though White Mughals by William Dalrymple, a history/biography that combines a gripping ‘plot’ with careful research and skilful writing; again, a great read, but I keep it next to my bed and am invariably too tired to do much more than find my place in it before switching the light off.

  17. Tomate Farcie says:

    I highly recommend Ruth Ozecki’s A Tale for the Time Being. It’s funny, poignant, thought provoking. One of the best books I’ve read and I am a voracious reader!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you, on the list it goes!

    • Nancysg says:

      I am in the midst of reading this book. I had a hard time at first with it, but now I can’t seem to put it down. An amazing double story.

      I also agree with people’s recommendation of “A Night Circus”. I do not usually read fantasy type novels, but this one was astounding in its beauty.

      And, I recently finished Edith Pearlman’s collection of short stories entitled, “Binocular Vision.” She has a spare writing style, but her stories pull you in. I agree with Dubaiscents about Alice Munro too. Short stories are such an amazing form of writing.

  18. I’m reading Quantum Demonology by Sheila Eggenberger! I think it’s a fantastic story and I highly recommend it! It also has tall, blonde, character named Birgit! 😀

  19. Vanessa says:

    Love the sound of this one, B – it would be my cup of tea, I am sure. I go for thrillers and literary fiction as a general rule. Haven’t been reading much lately, but am enjoying Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman, though it is a bit rude in places! My most stunning read of late would be Jane Shilling The Stranger in the Mirror, which I recommend unreservedly, also Kevin Myers’ Watching the Door. All-time faves include The Magus by John Fowles, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, Barbara Trapido Juggling – and oh, too many to mention. For humour, you can’t beat Helen Simpson’s Hey Yeah Get A Life. Very wry and iconoclastic look at motherhood in particular and women’s lives generally. Must read it again in fact, if I haven’t lent it out, which I probably have!

  20. Kandice says:

    Mystery is one of my favorite genres, so I will have to check out your recommendation. I also love historical fiction and am currently reading “The Aviator’s Wife” by Melanie Benjamin. It’s the story of Anne Morrow Lindbergh starting with before she meets Charles Lindbergh and continuing to his death. The author says she wrote the book because we all love Anne. And I have to say the way she paints Charles Lindbergh is very unflattering. Not knowing much about either personally, I can’t say how accurate her representation is. But it’s been very interesting to read more about the times they lived in.

  21. happyface313 says:

    I haven’t read a book in a few week, but I’m presently waiting for Jackie Mallon’s “Silk for the Feed Dogs” which I ordered a couple of days ago. I am very much looking forward to reading this book. Jackie is a blogger, too and I always have to laugh at the comments she leaves on my blog 😀
    Other than that I’ve enjoyed a bit of VOGUE, InStyle and Bunte (yes, great chitchat) over the weekend on the plane 😉
    A very HAPPY week to you! 🙂

  22. It’s always a good time, in my opinion, to talk about books. I love hearing what others are reading. But your post is well-timed for me since I just finished a blog post of my top ten books. Next up I want to do a top ten fragrances. I’m almost finished with it. But back to books…

    I’ve been rereading Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder, which made my top ten list. I usually just read one book at a time. I mostly prefer literary fiction, but I read a little of everything: novels, poetry, nonfiction.

    The Apple Tree Yard seems very good. I’m going to put that on my list to read. I haven’t read Goldfinch yet, but I loved The Stand, The Secret History, and A Prayer For Owen Meany.

  23. Annabel says:

    One of my favourites in the last few years is The Hare with Amber Eyes…

  24. Jordan River says:

    I loved The Hare with the Amber Eyes, set in Vienna. Definate parellels with perfume collections. Started the massive tome, The Luminaries and loving that – Man Booker Prize winner by a very young Kiwi author, Eleanor Catton, set in the gold rush days in New Zealand.

    Recommend The Eight by Katherine Neville, the perfume thriller, Aphrodesia by John Oehler as well as his Papyrus.

    I notice that Shantarum had almost taken The Cookie Queen away from commenting on perfume blogs.

    Just finished The Marriage Tree by Christopher Moore. A thriller set in Thailand about a bright Western woman who made her money with algorithms and used her wealth to smuggle Rohingya refugees to safety.

  25. The Lightkeeper’s Wife by Karen Viggers – Elderly and in poor health, Mary fulfills her wish to herself to live out her last days on Bruny Island off of Tasmania, with only her regrets and memories for company. Her late husband was the lighthousekeeper on Bruny, and she’d raised a family on the wild windswept island, until terrible circumstances forced them back to civilization. The long-buried secret that has haunted her for decades now threatens to break free, and she hopes to banish it in the time she has left. Mary’s youngest son Tom loves Bruny as much as she does, and understands her primal connection to the island. Years before he spent a winter working in Antarctica, and returned from that empty loneliness to find his marriage over and his life destroyed….

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