I order to get to my goal of reading 52 books this calendar year, I have read a few relatively short books. When I get really involved in a story, it find it hard to put down, so I was able to complete three books in three days. That wasn't necessarily a goal but it worked out nicely. I am now reading Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played with Fire. This is book #52. I will probably exceed my goal this year (or I could quit after this book and concentrate on knitting).
The three books are:
Compromising Positions, by Jenna Bayley-Burke. Well, this was something different for me. I've been reading a lot of things classed as "romance" lately, and this one was an Amazon recommendation. I read the blurb, which warned that this book was "not for the prudish or faint of heart," and I felt challenged. No damn review is going to deter me if I can help it. Actually the review was pretty good. While the book falls somewhere between erotica and soft porn, it actually has a believable story. There is a lot of sex, but nothing you wouldn't expect from two characters who are falling in love. It is, however, vivid. There is a mystery, but nobody is murdered. It has humor, which any good love story should have. Sophie has been fantasizing about David since she was in her teens, but David is good at not forming emotional attachments. He meets his match when he is recruited to help Sophie teach a couples yoga class. It seems to take forever to get them into bed together, but when they finally make it, David is smitten, although he refuses to admit it to himself. David is also rich and pisses Sophie off by buying her expensive things and making decisions for her. She doesn't want to be his "kept woman." The story goes on pleasantly and, I will spoil it, but it has a happy ending. Of course, all romances have happy endings. If you're not especially prudish, you might enjoy this novel.
Painted Ladies, by Robert B. Parker. Spenser is hired by an art professor to protect him while he delivers a ransom for a priceless painting. The people who stole the painting were very clever and set up the exchange so that Spenser was neutralized. The professor, and supposedly the returned painting, are blown to smithereens as he's returning to Spenser's car. This does not sit well with Spenser, because he failed the professor. Of course, he has to investigate to find out who killed the professor. The investigation takes unexpected turns, but it also has a few "aha" moments. Very readable, as Parker's books usually are.
A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway. This is a partially fictionalized account of Hemingway's early days as a writer in Paris. It was very compelling reading. We learn about his friendships with such famous people as Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and Sylvia Beach. I bought the restored edition, which has a very long introduction and an equally lengthy foreword, which I skipped. I wanted to read Hemingway's writing, not some analysis of it. And when I say long, I really mean it. This edition also included some writing from later in his life, and you could tell a difference; I liked the early stuff better. It also included alternate beginnings and endings, of which he wrote many. I skipped those, too. Aside from all that unnecessary stuff, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I may try some more of his novels. I read The Sun Also Rises, but I was disappointed by a lack of plot. Memoirs don't need plots, just some indication of change in the subject of the memoir. I may try A Farewell to Arms next.
I'm rather proud of myself for being so close to reaching my goal. The Girl Who Played with Fire (#52) is, as expected, good reading, so I have no doubt I'll finish it.