What I've Been Reading Recently

And Sons by David Gilbert
This is one of those books which gets described as a "quintessential New York novel" which means: it's about an outsider looking in at a rich family; it makes lots of literary references; and it uses fifty words where one would do. Which doesn't make it a bad book - I was keen to find out what on earth was going on - but did make it a bit of a slog.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
Loved this. This is a collection of essays and articles by novelist Ann Patchett in which she writes about her relationships (good and bad), her love of her dog, her choice to remain childfree, being a writer and a whole load of other things in between. It made me want to start writing blogging again.

The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller
Might inspire you to read a few novels you wouldn't otherwise have bothered with. Might inspire you to catalogue your own reading more. Might put you off having kids a little (because apparently they eat into your reading time). You might enjoy it. I thought it was okay.

Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant
Narrator Adele takes us through her life from her working class childhood, her university days of consciousness raising and sexual experimentation in the 60s, some dubious choices in early adulthood right up to the modern day. I've read and enjoyed Linda Grant before and I read and enjoyed this... but not as much as I had hoped. I didn't much like any of the characters and the dialogue was a bit Dawson's Creek. On the other hand, there's a really strong sense of each decade and I found myself feeling nostalgic for my own pretentious time as an undergrad.

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
A YA book my friend Laura recommended. Maddie lives not-too-far into the future in a world where kids are kept safely at home and taught all their lessons online - she's a bit irritated by her over-protective father but doesn't really question her life until she meets some new, opinionated people in person. This is a quick, easy and fairly engrossing read - I was a bit frustrated by the beautiful-girl-and-enigmatic-hero cliches but not so much so that I've ruled out reading the sequel.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Ooh, now this one was intriguing. The various members of a wealthy extended family spend every summer on their own private island. The adults drink and bicker; the kids run free. But this summer seems somehow unsettling and narrator, Cadence, can't get anyone to explain to her what's gone wrong...

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
I've seen about ten different bloggers recommending this book and I agree - give it a read. It's awesome. But, no, just like all the other bloggers, I can't really tell you what it's about. Spoilers and that, you know.

This One Is Mine by Maria Semple
A wealthy housewife is considering an affair; her sister-in-law is trying to marry her way out of debt. From an unknown writer, this would have been given a pastel cover and a swirly, girly font and bunged in the chick-lit pile. From one of the writers of Arrested Development, it gets taken more seriously. Convincing, sometimes exasperating, often thoughtful, this one covers not just relationships but parenthood, debt, addiction, diabetes and asperger's syndrome. A quick read for a rainy day.

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's Learned by Lena Dunham
I so wanted to love this book. Successful, opinionated woman writes essays about personal experiences? That's my favourite kind of book right now. But it left me underwhelmed. I didn't feel that Dunham had enough to say to warrant a whole book and I wasn't keen on the way she wrote about some of the other people in her life - it was a bit too "here's one wacky personality trait from which you can leap to your own small-minded conclusions about them". And the stories weren't that great.

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
A socially awkward, aetheist dentist is enraged when he discovers somebody is posing as him on the internet and posting strange religious screeds. The first few chapters of this book are dense, frustrating streams of consciousness from a fairly unlikeable man and I very nearly gave up reading. I'm glad I persevered because the story is an intriguing one. Asking all sorts of questions about religion, cults, intolerance and the need to belong, as much as the writing style continued to irritate me, the plot drew me right in.

*all links are Amazon affiliate links. I've made 0p through them in the past but a girl can dream.


  1. I really enjoyed We Were Liars and (unusually for me) did not see the twist coming until right before the reveal. It felt like I'd been punched in the guts as I'd really come to care for the characters. Sadly, a review in the Guardian gave away the twist in We Are All... and I think I enjoyed it less for knowing the secret.

  2. We Were Liars took me by surprise, too, and it's not often that happens. I think I even paused and put the book down just to take it in.

  3. Wow, I haven't read any of these (except Lena Dunham's book, and you're right about it, even though I gave it a more positive review), but I definitely will! I'm so glad you're blogging again.

  4. Yup, same with We Were Liars. I had to go back and re-read the reveal so I could get my head round it. Part of me wants to read it again now I know the twist, but there are so many other books I need to read....

  5. I'm intrigued by a few of these - I figured I would read the Lena Dunham anyway but did have some reservations. You've inspired me to put down some of my fluff, temporarily ;-)

  6. Same. There are so many books I want to go back and read a second time but there's always something new and exciting sitting on my Kindle.


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