A Reading Update

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It’s been a bit of a busy time over the past five or six weeks with an international move and all that entails. Thankfully I’ve still had plenty of time to read, I just haven’t reflected on it. So here’s a quick summary:

Two of the books I read I blogged about elsewhere as they were part of my Around the World Reading Challenge that I started on my other blog. They were Cloudstreet by Tim Winton (which I would urge everyone to read – I LOVED this book) and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Georgio Bassani. Both of them are well worth a read.

I spent an enjoyable few nights in a hotel room while my son was asleep reading Maggie O’Farrell’s My Lover’s Lover by the light of a tiny reading lamp so as not to wake him up. This book had a great pace to it and combined several different genres. It was a real page turner and had plenty of surprises.

I finally got round to reading The Gathering by Anne Enright which, once I got in to, I loved. I found the first few chapters a little off-putting as the story went from one character to the next without telling us much about any of them. But once it got going I found it to be a really powerful account of love, loss, and memory (and the beginning did prove necessary by the end of the book). It was beautifully written, but anyone with an aversion to unreliable narrators may want to avoid this!

Then I went on to a collection of short stories by Hilary Mantel: The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. Mantel is one of my favourite authors so I was really looking forward to this one. She is one of those authors who I could read just for the beauty of her writing, but the stories themselves are very good too. They are often humorous and poignant, and I thoroughly enjoyed this collection.

Finally, I have just finished Ali Smith’s How to Be Both, another great book. I put off reading this one for a while as I tried to read something else by Smith a few years ago and really didn’t get on with it. I was reminded why somewhat here (minimal punctuation in parts, very few page breaks and no chapters – just reading to the end of the chapter is how I justify much of my reading time, which may sound slightly strange but I felt a bit like this one would go hurtling on without me if I put it down). But the storytelling was skilful and it was beautifully written. I didn’t do any prior reading before starting this, so hadn’t realised that the dual narrative is presented in the opposite order in half the books. I’m not sure whether I would have enjoyed it more if I had got the other narrative first, as my copy had George’s story at the start and I was enjoying it so much I felt quite annoyed when it came to an end halfway through the book – it took me a while to get to the same level of absorption with Francesco’s narrative. I agree with The Guardian review that it perhaps is too ambitious and loses some of the story on the way. However, it was a remarkably clever and enjoyable book and I would highly recommend this one too. If you have plenty to say about a book then I always take that as a good sign!

I seem to be on a bit of a roll at the moment having just read some of the best books I’ve come across all year; hopefully this will continue through December.

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