With* my day times busy and exhausting and initially sandwiched by hours either waiting for or sitting on a southern train I have read ALOT in the past three months. Aside from literally hundreds of magazines (Top two new favourites being job perks- National Geographic & CN Traveller) i now have a job which ticks one of my dream job desires; free books!
Obviously I still spend a chunk of my salary on books as well but the proofs and advance copies we get through make my day on a daily basis. I mean obviously most of them aren’t actually supposed to go to me but still. I read them, I love them and this post will also make the PR’s happy!
In no particular order here are some of the good’uns.
Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff
Critics loved it, celebs loved it, Obama said it was one of the best books of 2015 & it got hyped to the max Gone Girl style. Everything about the furious positivity of press made me want to not read it yet i really really did. It sat in my amazon basket as a hardback waiting for paperback release for months & months & months well, until an advanced paperback copy turned up at work and it was like christmas on a wednesday afternoon in June. Fates & Furies tells the story of Lotto and Mathilde from their first rendez vous until well, the end… obviously, i mean the likening to Gone Girl, means things turn out to be not quite as clear cut as they seem but in a far more subtle, real way than any of the other bizarre maniac love story turned psycho thrillers. For me it’s the lyrical subtlety and simple beauty that likens it far more to the like of Donna Tartt’s Secret History.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
It won the International Man Booker and when I posted a snap on instagram vegetarians loved it. Oh how they would change their mind if they actually read it. The super slim edition is brutal, graphic and required momentary pauses for a breath of fresh air and questioning of humanity. Asian culture just does brutality in a way that the west doesn’t. Despite the weird bits and the brutality it’s utterly beautiful in prose, lyrical poetic and haunting yet still retaining the simplicity of what I find to be a unique and brilliant trait of asisan literature. Oh and I bought this one.
The last act of love by Cathy Retzenbrink
I met Cathy Retzenbrink when I saw Helen Walsh speak at a reading for The Lemon Grove a couple of years back and she is the loveliest person ever. I also hugely admire her work with Quick Reads and alot of the brilliant books i’ve read in the past few years have been because of her Twitter recommendations. Her own memoir, The last act of love had me in tears. A story that is so rarely given space in culture in such an honest, real life.
The Mountain Shadow by David Mitchell
I read shantaram in 3 days and became minorly obsessed with it. (i waited a few years after it had been published due to that hype aversion thing) whether it’s actually real James Frey Style? who cares what matters it is an amazing amazing story. The Mountain Shadow is equally brilliant and yes, luckily for me Christmas came once again in June when the paperback appeared in the office and I quickly pocketed it (okay, it’s a doorstop again so that’s a lie) It felt calmer, deeper and makes me want to track down the now elusive Gregory david mitchell and have dinner with him and you know… obviously i am planning to find that damn mountain if and when i finally ever make it to Mumbai.
The girl with seven names by Hyeonseo Lee
Those 12 months in Munsan means i’m a moth to a flame in regards to any texts about North Korea and luckily for me more and more are being published. Nothing to Envy remains at the top in regards to overview but Hyeonseo Lee’s the Girl with seven names gives you the purely personal insight that was missing. The reality of the agony of displacement and the foundation to try and get a greater understanding of the reality of the country that was only 15kilometres from my flat yet impenetrable.
Obviously there have been more, however book reviewing is still not my nice. I think I sound a bit like a dick when I write about books. But I love books so much I’m just going to keep on keeping on.
(I tilted the computer by about 40 degrees to get that capital W)