Being a voracious reader (I’ve written before about my favourite books, and the pleasure reading gives me) I am often on the hunt for new reads – as many others are – so I thought I’d write about some of the best books I’ve read recently for this week’s Friday Favourites.
In no particular order:
The Versions of Us – Laura Barnett
This debut novel has a kind of Sliding Doors theme, except with three alternative realities. I got a bit confused at times – the book lacks the visual clues as with Gwynnie’s varying hair length in Sliding Doors – but I soon got in to the flow.
The characters are flawed and make mistakes (so they’re human, basically!), there is humour and there is sorrow. The alternative reality tool lends extra pathos because as things go well in one possible timeline everything falls part in another. I raced through it, highly recommended.
The Water Knife – Paolo Bacigalupi
I love dystopian fiction. This book is set in the western states of the US in the near future. There are severe water shortages due to people thinking they could the mainly naturally-arid states fertile (Chinatown is a good reference point). The inhabitants of the states of Texas and Arizona have become refugees as their towns become unlivable due to the lack of water. The book includes a few different narratives that inevitably connect.
To say much more would to be giving spoilers, so I shall say no more other than that it is a very interesting, thought-provoking, and enjoyable read.
Us – David Nicholls
I loved One Day – and was initially disappointed with Us. The protagonist felt a bit of a self-indulgent middle-class moaner for whom I had little patience. I gave it another chance, however, and found I mostly enjoyed it although it isn’t as good as One Day.
It’s not too much of a spoiler to reveal that there is a baby death. I actually found this part of the book a comfort because the author had clearly done their research and the things the characters experienced were very resonant.
All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
A bit of an opus, this book begins in inter-war Germany and France with an orphan boy and a blind girl from these respective countries. The novel is an interesting account of the Second World War from an unusual angle (the boy becomes a detector of partisan radio signals, while the girl moves from Paris and lives out the war in a small seaside village).
Parts of it irritated me, such as the Americanisms – but if it was going to be truly authentic it would have been written in French and German, and my grasp of those languages doesn’t stretch that far. Well worth a read, especially if you are interested in that period of history.
The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood
I love Margaret Atwood – and have done since studying The Handmaid’s Tale for English literature A-level.
This book is also set in a near-future dystopia. It’s sharp, witty, poignant, and a bit scary too. If you love Atwood in general and The Handmaid’s Tale in particular you’re likely to love this too.
Sweet Caress: The Many Lives of Amory Clay – William Boyd
This book is pretty much Any Human Heart with a female protagonist. I loved Any Human Heart, and rocked through this book just as quickly.
Rising Strong – Brene Brown
I’d heard of Brene Brown from various places but this is the first book of hers I have read – and I am hooked! I’ve never known an author from the ‘self-help’ genre to be so raw, open, and honest about their own difficulties – she is so refreshing.
It’s about being vulnerable, and how vulnerability is actually a strength. This is different to what so many of us are brought up to believe – but being vulnerable means making true connections with other people, being open about ourselves and our needs (and respecting them) and pursuing our dreams. When we are vulnerable we are bound to fall – the book gives some tips about helping you get up again, rising strong.
Reading the book felt like I was sat enjoying a glass of wine with Brene talking about the daft things we have done, those “oh why didn’t I say that?!” moments, and putting the world to rights.