So here's mine for August.
Brandenburg - Henry Porter **
Choice of the office Book Club. Spy thriller set in East Germany at the fall of the Berlin Wall, with added Nazis. Despite this, utterly failed to hold my interest.
His & Hers - Mike Gayle ***
A re-read, nice and light, for a post-Brandenburg treat. Couple meet at university, get married, get divorced, run into each other three years later, needless to say I took this as A Sign when I bought it in Oct 2004. (WARNING: cat dies on page 11.)
Me Among The Ruins - Donald Jack ***
The fourth volume of the Bandy Papers, comic novels about WWI aviation introduced and loaned to me by sloopjonb. In this instalment, Bandy goes to Russia and the war ends. (Gets marked down for being too short.)
Brighton Rock - Graham Greene *****
I'd never read this, despite loving Greene and having spent time in Brighton (and yes, there is a mention or two of the famous girls' school). Bleak, frightening, evocative; nice addition to my collection of orange Penguins.
I Am Charlotte Simmons - Tom Wolfe ****
Rake's Progress of a gifted hillbilly lass who goes to a prestigious US college. Contains the best paragraph about depression I have ever read. A bugger to carry on the train at 700+ pages, but oh so worth it when the 17:00 from Dorchester South was running an hour late.
A Long Way Down - Nick Hornby ***
Four strangers meet at popular suicide spot on New Year's Eve. Not entirely convinced by plot or characterisation, but a fun read.
Ten Poems To Change Your Life - Roger Housden *
Another Book Club selection. I wrote better literary criticism for GCSE English. Tosser. (Alternative review: 'Didn't work'.)
Bad Influence - William Sutcliffe *****
Two nice boys meet a Bad Boy from a broken home who sets about wrecking their friendship. Although much of what happens is quite horrible this is often a funny read, with the ten-year-old narrator's diagram of comparative sibling bedroom pong and pie chart showing division of dinner table conversation.
Staring at the Sun - Julian Barnes ****
Another re-read, consumed on the train between Waterloo and Southampton Airport Parkway. It's disconcerting when it suddenly goes all sci-fi in the final part, especially as it now seems a rather dated vision of the future. Barnes is very clever and literary, though I mostly just like the bits about planes.
The Brightonomicon - Robert Rankin ***
Poor old Rob: if we didn't have Pratchett as a yardstick, we might think he was funny. Still, this one has a great central premise of finding constellations in the Brighton street map. Rankin knows a lot about music but gets a black mark for misspelling Frankie Howerd's surname.
I conclude that I get through three times as many books when I have to go to work on the train. I'd still rather have my bike, though. Who knew I was such a philistine?