I used to love nothing more than curling up with a good book but in the last few years I have sadly stopped enjoying reading. It has become a chore. I really want to get back to reading for enjoyment and I hope that by making a list of books that I have read/want to read I can get some of that love back! Who knows? Maybe by the end of the year I might even make it into double figures!
1) My first book for January is H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man. I bought this for my son and told him he would enjoy it – obviously this was the kiss of death and he refuses to start it. I am really enjoying it though. I vaguely remember a very new Channel 4 doing a whole “night of invisibility” when they showed all the old Invisible Man films. I may see if the library has them when I have finished this. I would also like to try some more H. G. Wells. Any recommendations?
2) Confession time! I never actually got around to reading East of Eden as I got distracted by Sherlock Holmes! I really loved this book as I remembered it, from my childhood as being a lot drier. In fact, these short-story adventures are real page-turners and I love reading the descriptions of 1890s London. I originally picked this up at the library for my son, but telling your child that you think they would like a book is always the kiss of death and obviously he won’t even touch it.
3) John Steinbeck’s East of Eden is now on the list for March (yes, rather depressingly, I seem to be averaging one book a month). My criteria for choosing it were somewhat arbitary – I saw it in the English Language Section of the library and it didn’t look too old and smelly (like most of their books). I vaguely remember the film with James Dean and think it has something to do with refrigerated lettuces – we shall see! I haven’t read any Steinbeck before.
4) I thought that I had read this at school (and maybe I did but I certainly couldn’t remember very much of it). I really enjoyed it, and have to agree with whoever said that Atticus just has to be the best father ever. Will have to look out the film now too.
5) A book which manages to be both depressing and enjoyable at the same time. Solnit writes in an accessible yet thought-provoking style. I think it is definitely time to add more feminist writers to my reading list this year.
7) My reading choices are very much based on what I can find in the library that isn’t in an advanced state of decay – an approach which so far seems to be going rather well. This version of Wuthering Heights with its Twilight-inspired cover, was in the Young Adult section. I am sure I read it many years ago but I can remember very little of the actual plot. I am only about a third of the way through but am already loving the feeling of being buffetted around the windswept moors. I have only had to flick back to remind myself who Hareton and Hindley are about a dozen times…
8) Wuthering Heights inspired me to stay on the moors – but this time swapping the windswept moorlands of Yorkshire for the slightly warmer Egdon Heath. I had forgotten how much I love Hardy. This book has made me homesick for the New Forest and the freedom to roam across the wild countryside away from noise and traffic. The landscape (and the descriptions of the traditional mummers’ plays and maypoling) had me gripped – which was lucky as I found both Thomasin and Clym to be rather dull characters.
An amazing story of a woman’s long journey on foot along a trail on the west coast of America. I loved her determination – setting off despite being barely able to pick up her backpack and her very limited means. Inspiring.
12) Unfortunately I managed to spoil the surprise in this book by absent-mindedly flicking through the pages before starting to read! I won’t reveal it again here but it was a beautifully written story which made me examine my attitudes towards the issues described afresh.
14) What can I say about this? My mum gave it to me on holiday and I have loved Tracy Chevalier in the past but this one, set among the Quaker community in nineteenth century America, somehow didn’t really engage me.
15) I had wanted to read this much-hyped novel for a long time and, although I enjoyed it, I have to agree with The Guardian review that it just didn’t quite work. Quite often I felt that there were gaps in the writing and plot that I was meant to overlook. Why was Nella so sympathetic to her husband? I wasn’t convinced. How did the miniaturist know so much about the family when even those in the family didn’t? It seemed implausible that she could know so much just by staring at them in the street every now and again. Some lovely passages but ultimately, one to give away rather than reread.
16) How had I forgotten so much about this wonderful novel? The denouement genuinely surprised me even though I was sure that I had read it before. Hardy never fails to move me – and also make me yearn to live in the countryside.
17)I am not sure where this book came from but I found it on our bookshelf and, from the very first page, was hooked. The evocation of the fifties is perfectly done with just the right mix of nostalgic detail and disturbing realism. The friendship between Ruby and April reminded me of how intense such relationships are when you are young.
18) Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I had heard of this book but had never read it (and can’t remember the film at all). I found it gripping and intriguing – the first part reminded me of my own school days which made the rest of the book even more disturbing, especially the way in which the protagonists never really fight against their fate.