Oh dear, oh dear, I missed a week of The Reading List! I’m really going to try and stick to a Saturday upload, or I’m speeding through books then not blogging them until weeks later. Without further ado, here’s the latest selection:
Wish You Were Here, Graham Swift
This is one of those books that’s been hanging around on my shelf for ages, but gets shunted out of the way by newer, shinier options. I have a feeling one of my parents read this a while ago, and I then poached it from their bookshelf.
Jack’s brother, Tom, is killed in Iraq, and this loss causes Jack to confront many issues in his life, past and present. Jack is a man of simple pleasures, but incredibly complex, and the writing of this character is what makes the book. It faces a backdrop of war – both the Great War and the Iraq War – heritage, marriage and grief, but is never too heavy-handed.
The emotional current of the book is believable, with sometimes very abrupt changes in mood or in the way characters interact, which made the emotions seem more raw. The last few chapters, for me, were unnecessary, although I’m sure many people would disagree. I don’t want to say much more about the story, for fear of giving anything away, but it is a thought-provoking read and worth a try if you’re on the hunt.
If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, Jon McGregor
This is a short book, and lends itself beautifully to being read in one sitting, which is how I read it. It covers one day on one, ordinary, northern street, full of ordinary people doing ordinary things. We peep through the keyholes of people in a huge range of life circumstances and moments, but glimpse them only for minutes. Some characters are returned to, some are not, and very few are named.
Against this scene, something big happens. This book is just stunning. It’s so beautifully written and the observations are measured and precise. The topic doesn’t sound particularly interesting before reading, but you can’t help turning every page, because the dull and mundane are captured with beauty. Read it now!
Queen Camilla, Sue Townsend
The royal family has been thrown out, and banished to the ‘exclusion zone’. The satirical tale unfolds on this council estate, and offers a social commentary on modern Britain. It is a very ‘relevant’ tale and does address some issues a lot of people are currently worried about or protective over.
The novel is, of course, silly, but it is also very clever, and Townsend clearly has a reason for every scenario she plays out. I could admire that this book was well written, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m glad I read it, as I am trying to widen my horizons a bit genre-wise, but I wasn’t a huge fan.
Once in a House on Fire, Andrea Ashworth
This was another book from my parents’ bookshelf, and it has no blurb so I really had no idea what I was going to find as I began to read. What lies inside is the memoir of the writer, who endured an abusive and turbulent childhood. It was a bit of a shock, considering I wasn’t sure what was inside at all, but it is a well-crafted memoir.
Her memories are painful ones, and it is a difficult read. Some of the situations she describes are incredibly upsetting, so I think only a certain type of reader would want to pick it up. Somebody like my sister, who is fascinated by memoirs and tales like these, though, would receive this as a well-delivered piece of writing. If you fancy a try, just be warned it isn’t easy to forget.
I feel like I say this all the time, as I’m really happy with the range of things I’m reading at the moment, but it was another varied selection! I love getting comments on what you’re reading or what you might try, so please keep them coming.
Having missed a week of this post, I’ve already read my next four books, so will try and get the post up on time for once!
What are you reading now?