I have loved reading books since I was a small child.
It was not uncommon for me to get through 70-80 books a year at school, and yes I even got certificates in front of the whole school assembly (which frankly wasn’t the aim of the exercise but it was nice to get the recognition; of course all it need was give the bullies even more ammunition to make my life miserable but hey that was going to happen anyway).
And while adulthood hasn’t proved as forgiving time-wise, I have kept buying physical books, and yes some e-books like they’re going out of fashion.
Of course reading them is a whole other story and I simply don’t get the time to read anywhere near as much as I’d like to.
But I did read some books this year and these are five books that really made an impact.
THE LONG EARTH by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
Multiple universes all stretching into infinity.
All very much the same and yet wildly different.
And all available to resource-hungry, crowded humanity to start anew.
The possibilities of this scenario are endless and Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter make the most of creating an engrossing imagination-gripping adventure that manage that rare feat of persuading me to postpone bedtime, repeatedly, to read “just a little bit more”.
IS IT JUST ME? by Miranda Hart
She’s hilarious on her hit sitcom Miranda.
By all accounts just as funny and down-to-earth in real life.
And now she’s written a book and it’s damn near hilarious.
Taking the simple premise that we’re all well trained for the big questions in life – birth, death, marriage – and if we’re not we can educate ourselves, but woefully unprepared for those small awkward social situations no one ever schools for, she sets out to do her best to plug the holes in our knowledge.
And to side-slippingly funny comic effect.
MR PENUMBRA’S 24 HOUR BOOKSTORE by Robin Sloan
The old (an ancient secret order who venerates the physical written word) meets the new Google, special effects and the ever-changing digital age) in this imaginative book about one guy’s quest to solve the mystery of the strange bookstore where he works.
As he does so, he ropes in his friends and eventually even his employer, who it turns out has different ideas on what should be done to solve the riddle to his superiors, and eventually criss crosses the country and back again in his pursuit of the “truth”.
The characters are delightful, the ideas intriguing and the adventure is never so brisk that there isn’t time for an important conversation or two.
This is a perfect summer read that won’t insult your intelligence.
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME by Mark Haddon
This is one of those books I have had on my bookshelf for years and wanted to read but never quite found the time.
Well I finally found that elusive time and what a joy to read it was.
Christopher, a boy who sits somewhere on the autism spectrum – though the author never specifically says he has autism; it’s just implied – sets out to find out who killed his neighbour’s dog and in the process sets in train a series of events that upends his family and exposes a lot of long held closely-guarded secrets.
It does have a happy ending and despite some traumatic events throughout a warm and happy tone to it thanks mainly to Christopher matter of fact perspectives on, well, just about everything.
It’s an enriching, entrancing read.
THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE by Aimee Bender
Poor Rose Edelstein.
Just turned up and suddenly cursed, or gifted, depending on your point of view with the ability to divine peoples’ emotions by eating the food they cook.
Traumatised by her new ability, she discovers that her outwardly happily, confident mother is instead deeply sad, and disappointed by life, totally unsettling her and causing her to question pretty much everything in a life that’s barely started.
As I noted in my original review though “it’s not all doom and icing-topped gloom. At it’s heart it’s a beautifully written book about how much goes unsaid between people and how the ability to pick up on these unremarked undercurrents can profoundly change the way you relate to the rest of the human race.”
If you want a book that deliver on its quirkily-titled premise, you’ll love the journey of Rose Edelstein and her unusual, life-changing ability.
* So which books have you (a) found the time to read and (b) really enjoyed … and why?