All posts tagged: books

This Year In Books (Part II)

Find Part I here. 19 ⤜ Men Explain Things To Me, by Rebecca Solnit A favourite writer covers a favourite (if only it weren’t so necessary) topic. 20 ⤜ Skyfaring, by Mark Vanhoenacker A pilot’s musings on flying. Sparkling writing and another favourite non-fiction read of the year. Read it on board an aeroplane, if you can, for extra submersion in its absorbing subject matter. 21 ⤜ The Gustav Sonata, by Rose Tremain A heart-warming and endearing portrayal of two boys, turned men, in wartime Switzerland. 22 ⤜ A Spool Of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler An engaging family drama in Tyler’s endearing, relatable style. 23 ⤜ H Is For Hawk, by Helen MacDonald Another favourite of the year, again for its glittering style and ability to make birds of prey interesting to this…generally disinterested…gal. Almost primal in its appraisal of the natural world, painful to read in parts due to its portrayal of grief, it is the kind of book you read with a lump in your throat, the kind of book you can’t put …

This Year In Books (Part I)

I adore books – their tidy spines and floppy covers, the rustle of pages turning between my fingertips, even their smell – almost as much as I love reading itself. It’s not an exaggeration to assert that I never feel more myself than when curled up with a book in bed. For me, reading is not so much an escape as a return; to the earliest sense of self I ever had, picking out storybooks from the library at the end of our street. I made it my resolution to read fifty books in 2016, having regressed somewhat in 2015 (thanks, I wrote at the close of year last, to “plenty of travel, the surprise of falling in love, burgeoning friendships, regular meltdowns about the direction of my twenty-somethings and the odd bit of work, too, I promise, all at the frenetic pace of London life”). But of course, time doesn’t slow down in its unceasing onward course; like a river, it only seems to speed up as it heads downstream. A new, more demanding job didn’t help …

Ex Libris | Someone

Ex Libris | A series featuring recent reads. Written by? Alice McDermott In a nutshell? Ordinary. Extraordinary. The debrief? Marie, the book’s protagonist, is the ‘someone’ of the novel’s title – at first meeting, as ordinary a woman as that pronoun suggests. But, says McDermott, there’s something “contrarian” about books by unremarkable women about unremarkable women – in this case, a Catholic Irish-American girl growing up in Brooklyn. The book is deftly written in sparkling prose, switching elegantly and without structure between periods in Marie’s personal timeline. In so doing it quietly charts a lifetime’s worth of love and loss, from the ache of disappointment to the all-encompassing splendour of joy. I’ve read it twice in a year and I’d read it again in a heartbeat (once I’ve worked my way through McDermott’s entire canon, that is). Should I be blessed with a daughter one day, I’ll be lending it to her too; Someone is the perfect coming-of-age novel, a masterpiece in perspective and in womanhood, replete with the poignancy of growing up. Buy or borrow? Buy, underline, re-read, lend to every woman (and man) …

What are you reading?

Hi readers! (Does anyone read this blog? If you do, hello and please say hi!) I was e-mailing a friend from across the ocean the other day about books, and it occurred to me that this blog might be the perfect forum to sow and reap book recommendations too! I have been a particular voracious reader since the year’s begin, fuelled by dawdling tube journeys from the suburbs into town. Ergo, without further ado… * * * Books I’ve read this year and loved This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett A book of essays by the Orange Prize winner Ann Patchett, recommended by a London Book Club member. Endearing, enlightening and sometimes laugh-out-loud. I particularly enjoyed her tales of working at a magazine (as I do now!) and her thoughts on happiness, commitment and marriage. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter A charming tale full of twists and turns, spanning almost half a century and skipping between coastal Italy and Los Angeles. A lighthearted and lovely read! Ammonites and Leaping Fish by …