I love reading.
And I read a lot.
So much so that my bedside table has become a bit of a danger zone, with one wrong move setting off a book avalanche and scaring S half to death.
A new library book haul is both exciting and slightly stressful, as I have the difficult decision of choosing which book to start with. Even then, I won’t finish that one before I start another. I’ll crack open every book I’ve painstakingly lugged home and flit almost manically between them.
Essentially, I’ve loved reading since the good old days of Biff and Chip. And I apologise for the cliché, but I genuinely feel that reading gives me the escapism I need when things are tough.
I know I’m not the only one with a huge passion for reading, so I’ve decided to briefly review some of my favourite books in the hope that others will read and enjoy them as much as I did. Just click on the images if your interest has been piqued 🙂
I’ll be adding to this list as and when I come across another brilliant read.
So, in no particular order…
The Entire Animal, Gregory Heath
The blurb invites the reader to enter the world of a ‘man in pain’, who has ‘all but abandoned hope of finding happiness.’
The man in question is a thirty-something taxidermist, and although the idea of taxidermy has never been of much interest to me as an adult and terrified me as a child, I found myself intrigued…!
Heath uses the present tense, which allows the reader to feel more involved with the plot; a lonely man’s reconnection with a world he has become isolated from.
He writes with a refreshing mixture of humour and emotion and introduces some very detailed descriptions and beautiful metaphors.
The Entire Animal is clever and insightful; a wonderful debut novel which will leave you feeling a little better about the world.
The Possession of Mr Cave, Matt Haig
Written from the perspective of the protagonist, Terence Cave, and addressed to his daughter, Bryony, this novel is about obsessive, all-consuming love and its terrible consequences.
Having failed his son, Terence focuses all his attention on protecting his daughter, no matter the cost.
Haig’s characterisation is fantastic and I found myself understanding Terence’s behaviour whilst wanting to scream at him to stop!
Whilst the tension is evident from the beginning, there are also touches of humour in this emotionally charged narrative.
A Boy Made of Blocks, Keith Stuart
Stuart’s heart-warming debut novel brings us Alex, a man who remains deeply affected by a family tragedy from his childhood and who is struggling to communicate with his wife and autistic son, Sam.
When Alex joins Sam in his Minecraft adventures, he learns to understand how his son views the world, and slowly begins to build hope for both of their futures.
As well as being uplifting, this novel is also funny, with Stuart’s style being likened to that of Starter for Ten author David Nicholls (see earlier review!)
An all-round lovely book.
Lie With Me, Sabine Durrant
The sinister undertone from the very start of this book and the consistently high level of tension had me racing through the pages in just two days.
Durrant’s middle-aged, male protagonist is incredibly believable, and his arrogant belief that he has got away with years of incredibly selfish behaviour has the reader longing for his comeuppance.
I’m a big fan of a literary twist, and Lie With Me certainly delivers!
This novel will have you re-thinking all the ‘harmless’ little lies you’ve ever told and questioning your own sense of morality.
Plus the closing line is brilliant.
Starter for Ten, David Nicholls
Set in 1985, this book follows a luckless Essex boy during his first year of uni, including a stint on University Challenge and the pursuit of a pretty teammate, and I found it hilarious from start to finish.
I pretty much forced S to read this after me to see if he found it as funny as I did, and was then subjected to random bursts of laughter as he read it beside me in bed.
Word of warning though…
Don’t read this book if you cringe easily.
(And if you don’t cringe easily, check out the film adapation, which stars the rather lovely James McAvoy…!)
Apple Tree Yard, Louise Doughty
Dark and gripping, this psychological thriller is about a woman whose marital affair sends her life spiralling out of control.
I got quite obsessed with this book, to the point where it nearly met its watery death when it just had to come into the bath with me.
(FYI- since I wrote this, BBC One have adapted this novel into a four-part drama!)
The Gargoyle, Andrew Davidson
I have never read anything remotely like this book and don’t expect to again. S’s mum recommended it to him, and he to me.
It merges a range of genres- from romance to horror, historical to the supernatural- to create a completely unique story about a pornstar striving to be a better person after he is horribly disfigured in a fire.
This is the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve put it down.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler
(As seen in the East Anglian Daily Times, April 2017)
This is another book I passed quickly on to S!
I found Fowler’s portrayal of a very interesting family to be both clever and thought-provoking and I was completely shocked (and impressed!) by the twist.
Plus I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but the copy I own is also very aesthetically-pleasing!
If you want to get engrossed in a very unusual storyline, I would definitely recommend We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. (Just don’t be tempted to research it first!)
Touchy Subjects, Emma Donoghue
I’m not normally a fan of short stories, but as Donoghue is the author of the incredible Room (which you should read if you haven’t already, and see the film!) I assumed these would be pretty good, and I was right.
The stories are grouped under the headings Babies, Domesticity, Strangers, Desire and Death and each one held my interest and provoked different emotions. It’s been a while since I’ve been really gripped by a book, and even longer since I’ve chosen to read short stories over a full-length novel, which is testament to the author’s skills as a writer.
The collection is funny, touching and insightful, and, thanks to the fantastic talent of Donoghue, the characters in each story have very distinctive and intriguing personalities.
The two stories which stand out for me are The Sanctuary of Hands, because of the way in which my opinion of the protagonist changed halfway through, and Speaking in Tongues, which I thought was clever and beautiful.
This would be a great book to take on holiday and dip in and out of.