Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sunday Philosophy Club Review

50 BOOK CHALLENGE 2007 Number 23
BOOK: The Sunday Philosophy Club (An Isabel Dalhousie Mystery)
AUTHOR: Alexander McCall Smith
PUBLISHER: (c) 2004/ Anchor Books, 2005
PAGES: 247
GENRE: Mystery
4 out of 5 stars

Well, I fit one more book into 2007. This is the first book in the Isabel Dalhousie series, and while fans of the Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency series will recognize the folksy and cozy narrative style, Isabel Dalhousie is a different kind of protagonist than Mma Ramotswe.

Like the Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency books, this story is not plot driven, but character driven. Like the Homer Kelly mysteries of Jane Langton, McCall Smith's mysteries tend to be on the lighter side (relatively gore-free), but filled with historical and cultural references. Isabel is a philosopher, and as the editor of the Journal of Applied Ethics, manages to view her interaction with the world as one large moral quandary. While she may consider Kant in her musings on every day situations, she is a very human character, subject to the same temptations and foibles as her non-philosopher friends.

A basic understanding of general philosophical trends is helpful, but by no means necessary, to enjoy this book. The philosophical references are not overbearing and do not have the same relevancy that they have in the work of Umberto Eco, for example. The characters are vivid and are solid stock for a series. The actual mystery is not central to the story, which is more focused on Isabel's relationship to the world around her. A very good read for a rainy day.

Books 1-22:
1. Getting Things Done--David Allen (nonfic)
2. The Geography of Nowhere--Howard Kunstler (nonfic)
3. Misreadings--Umberto Eco (essays)
4. The Curtain--Milan Kundera (litcrit)
5. Bach Among the Theologians--Jaroslav Pelikan (nonfic)
6. 40 Days & 40 Bytes: Making Computers Work for Your Congregation (nonfic)
7. The Witch of Portobello--Paulo Coelho (fiction)
8. Suffer The Little Children--Peter Tremayne (mystery)
9. The Dante Club-Matthew Pearl (mystery)
10. The Audacity of Hope--Barack Obama (nonfic)
11. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows--JK Rowling (fiction)
12. What is The What--Dave Eggers (fiction)
13. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive--Alexander McCall Smith (fiction)
14. The City of Ladies--Christine de Pizan (treatise)
15. Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon--Michael Ghiglieri (nonfic)
16. That Hideous Strength (Book 3 of the Space Trilogy)-C.S. Lewis (fiction)
17. Consider the Lobster-David Foster Wallace (essays)
18. Writing to Learn-William Zinsser (nonfic)
19. A Home At the End of the World-Michael Cunningham (fiction)
20. Muscular Re-training for Pain Free Living--Craig Williamson (self-help)
21. Music in American Life-Jacques Barzun (nonfic)
22. House of Shadows- The Medieval Murderers (fiction/mystery)


Sammee said...

Awesome! How do you do this 50 Book Challenge thing? I mean, what pattern are you following?

Rebecca said...

Hi Sammee,

I'm not following a pattern (except to prioritize the books I already own that I haven't read...that's not going very well). There is an LJ community where people track their progress:

I start back at the beginning tomorrow! Happy New Year!