book roundup

September 10, 2013

So, about that resolution to read more non-fiction…yeah. About that. See, I want to read more non-fiction. I do. It’s just. I like fiction. A lot. And despite the librarian looking at me and pointedly saying “but that’s for young children” when I enquired as to a particular YA novel recently, it’s still the first genre I reach for when I think of picking up a new book.

So recently, to the detriment of the two books about dense and difficult wars I fully intend to read, I’ve been loving:

1. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
This novel sparked a bidding war and it’s really not difficult to understand why. Honestly, I loved this book, so I’m kind of gutted that my review of it for For Book’s Sake was a little…stilted. Sorry, gang. But despite my terribly-written review, Burial Rites is just a brilliant, taut novel about a woman convicted of murdering her lover and forced to await her final sentencing in the farmstead she grew up in. In 1800s Iceland. It’s icy to the core, with this wonderful pull between the harsh earth-bound lives and everything else that’s believed in. Oh and it’s been longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. So you should go read it. Right now.

2. Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
I haven’t loved an epistolic novel this much since we were reading The Color Purple in school…one to rip through, Where’d You Go Bernadette is wonderfully fluid despite so many switches in voice. The very fact that each voice is so distinct is a real tribute to Semple’s talents. 15 year old Bee is the overall narrator and collator of the emails detailing the lead-up to, and disappearance of, her enigmatic mother Bernadette. Who exactly is this woman? McArthur grant genius architect? Agoraphobic, scatty wife? Mom? I have to say at times it stretches the suspension of disbelief too far for me, but I loved the characters so much that I kept reading anyway (in a kind of -oh-it’s-midnight-I-should-sleep-one-more-chapter …way).

3. The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer
A spell is being cast of the female inhabitants of Stellar Plains High School: one by one they feel the cold wind that brings an instant death to their desires and relationships. Simultaneously, the new drama teacher (waltzing in from out of town) decides to stage Lysistrata, Aristophanes’ comedy of women withholding sex from their menfolk in order to bring about the end of the seemingly endless war. Again, the ending made me feel a bit like…oh well, that’s a bit…contrived. Or a giant cop-out. But I loved her prose and her female characters, despite there being an abundance of them, had just enough depth to make each twist of the rubix cube engaging. So of course, now I can’t wait to pick up The Interestings

Also on my list…I’m obsessed with Jeeves & Wooster books at the minute. Seriously. We even have tickets to the Steven Mangan/Matthew Macfadyen production at Richmond before it transfers to the West End and I’m SO excited! Other than that, I read Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth and wasn’t entirely sure where I came down on it, even though he is my favourite author. He does display that wonderful elasticity as usual…that way of encompassing everything and nothing all at once, whatever the subject matter is. Perhaps I was a little disappointed that the lives of his characters seemed so small, even as they played out against this amazing backdrop of MI5 and the cold war and new struggles in Northern Ireland and the manipulation of writers and artists by their own government…but then again, it was a wonderful foil at the same time. So you see, I loved it, but it did make me wonder what part of me wasn’t satisfied. I haven’t quite figured that out yet…

So. What are you reading now? What should be on my Goodreads list? I have a zillion Audible credits to use too, so if you can recommend any well-read audiobooks…fire away!

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