As you know, at the shops, we’re all passionate readers and we often have to fight each other for the privilege of reading some of the newest titles. Luckily, we don’t all enjoy the same things, my personal favourites are literary (and not so literary) contemporary fiction. I thought I’d share with you a few I’ve read lately and that you might put on your to read list, or take them with you on holiday.
I’m off to the Edinburgh Fringe next week, not much time to read there I suspect, but then a wonderful 2 weeks will be spent touring Scotland. I’ll be taking some Scottish based books with me, so I’ll tell you about them next time.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I heard a lot about this book on social media, particularly Twitter, so I had to read it and it was well worth the hype.
Eleanor is a young woman with a very different approach to life from the ‘norm’, due mostly to her childhood. We find out about what has made her the person she is today during the course of the book. Her routines, which she has lived by for most of her life, are questioned by an unexpected friendship and one act of kindness. These gradually make her open up and examine herself, making her extremely uncomfortable. Eleanor is beautifully drawn as a vulnerable, unusual character by the author, who gives us humour and pathos throughout. This is a wonderful feel good book from a debut author. The film rights have already been sold to Reece Witherspoon – hmmm not sure who I’d cast as Eleanor. I’d love to hear your ideas when you’ve read it!
Slow Horses by Mick Herron (not pictured above)
Vol 1 of the Jackson Lamb thriller series.
When this books was suggested by one of my books club members, I felt embarrassed not to have heard of it. It’s won so many accolades in the Crime genre, its’ praises are highly sung by all those who know about Crime novels, so, we chose it as our read, and we loved it.
It is a darkly comedic book about ‘Spooks’ who have been relegated to Slough House, the offices of failed Intelligence officers. They are there because of their misdemeanours, drunkenness, leaving files on a train, blowing a surveillance – you get the idea! They have more than that it common, they also dislike each other with a passion. When a case comes up where a young man is abducted, the Slough House crew are eager to prove themselves and find their way back to Regent’s Park head office. Beautifully written with a complex plot, this first novel is a must read for all thriller fans. The characters are unforgettable with wonderful cameos. I think that this would make a wonderful TV series, I for one would definitely watch it. Great news too is that there are 2 others in the series with another one due in October.
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
Since The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, I have loved Rachel Joyce’s writing. Whimsical and endearing, her latest book is no exception and I opened it with anticipation and was not disappointed.
Frank runs a vinyl only record shop in the 1980’s in a run down area of a typical British town, you know the sort, that part of the High Street you never really bother to go to. His shop is part of a small community of similar businesses, an undertakers run by two brothers, a gift shop run by an ex priest and a tattoo shop run by a feisty, apparently ‘hard’ woman. His shop comes under pressure to stock CD’s, the new technology, but Frank whose listening booths are converted wardrobes, flatly refuses. Frank’s great talent is finding the perfect piece of music for the individual person. People come in to his shop with various personal problems, and Frank finds them the music that will help them to recover and cope better. His knowledge of all genres of music comes from his Mum, Peg, an eccentric woman who has shaped the person Frank has become, not necessarily for the best.
Everything in Frank’s life changes when a mysterious woman Ilse Brauchmann, faints outside his shop….. Read it to be drawn into this wonderful story.
We have a literary lunch with Rachel Joyce at Chenies Manor on Friday 8th September. Details here:
Don’t miss the chance to hear this wonderful author speak about her delightful latest book.
The Power by Naomi Alderman
Now, I’m not really one for a dystopian novel, but once again, my book club, encouraged by the fact that this book won the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction this year, felt we should give it a go. Even the most sceptical among us had to eat our words, although we were divided in our opinions. This of course is the perfect scenario for a book group, as a great discussion ensued.
All over the world, women are discovering they have the ‘Power’. With a flick of their fingers, they can inflict terrible pain on men. Roxy discovers she has the power and is thrown, unwittingly, into a world of violence and conflict she was not expecting. A young Nigerian male, Tunde, reports the women’s uprising and shift in balance from the traditionally male dominance.
This book is fast paced and gripping, but what it does most, is make you question our society and the relationship between physical power and dominance of political, social power. This sci-fi novel is fundamentally rooted in the 21st century and makes the reader consider our current global political system.
So, a great book for all feminists and a perfect springboard for a book group discussion.
If Margaret Atwood says ‘Electrifying! Shocking! Will knock your socks off! Then you’ll think twice about everything’ it must be worth a go mustn’t it?
So that’s it – my first review and recommendations of what I’ve read recently. I know I don’t see as many customers in the shop as I did, but keep reading these blogs, you’ll find a great selection of wonderful, diverse reading to keep you going.