Tuesday, 16 October 2012

things what I've read recently and rather liked

I'm going to do a separate one with poetry recommendations, too. For now, here are some novels I have recently fallen in love with.

The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker

What if our twenty four hour day grew longer? First in minutes, then in hours until you’re awake when it’s dark, and the days stretch out without knowing where they will end? This effects the plants, and the birds, and whales in the sea. Astronauts are stranded in space. The population becomes spilt: those who continue to live on ‘clock time’ to try and keep society regular, and those on ‘real time’ who sleep only when it is dark, and stay awake on the ‘white nights.’ No scientist understands what is happening, or where it will take them. This is a fascinating read.

What's Left of Me - Kat Zhang

This is a world where everyone is born with two souls. Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers: Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbours shied away, and their parents begged for more time - because hybrids are not allowed, and the government will destroy them. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, Eva was still there… This is an incredibly gripping story; I was almost (not even almost, I just was) angry when I had to put this book down and go to work. I'm so excited to find this series (it's the first of a trilogy), but oh the agony of waiting until the next one comes out! Kat's going to come by the blog soon to talk about this book, too.

Swimming Home - Deborah Levy

This book is wonderful. It's like Virginia Woolf's 'Between the Acts' and Ali Smith's 'The Accidental' met and had a baby. Set in France, this is the story of a poet, a teenager, a journalist, an old doctor, two shop owners and a girl who can be everything to everyone. Her name is Kitty Finch. She's often naked, chatting up married men, eating sugar mice, collecting stones and driving dangerously. She's written a poem, and she wants Jozef to read it; he's a famous poet and she thinks that he will understand her. Kitty makes people see truth within themselves. She strips everything down. People fall in love with her, or hate her, because her truth is intoxicating. This is a novel about holes, and about dreams. It's about nightmares and vermin, fictional or not, that you can't get rid of, and which only come out at night. What is the summer, as people sit in the sun, watching their skin change colour and trying to forget about their lives at home, and where exactly does it end? I'm routing for this book for the Man Booker.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce

This book will make your heart happy; I guarantee it. It's a book that's very, very difficult to put down. Harold Fry is 65, and he and his wife don't get on so well any more. She's waiting for their son to come home (he hasn't visited in twenty years), and Harold feels that his life has slipped by and still continues to do so. One morning he gets a letter from Queenie, who is in a hospice in Berwick Upon Tweed. She used to work with Harold, and once did him a very big favour. The letter tells him that she is dying, and she wanted to write and say goodbye. Harold cannot find the right words to write back to her; he feels that whatever he can say will not be enough. He writes a hurried reply and heads out to the post box. But, when he gets to the post box, he decides that getting there was far too easy; he'll walk to the next one. And then when he gets there he decides to walk the next, and then the next. Eventually, he decides that he's going to walk all the way to Berwick Upon Tweed to go and see Queenie in person. He believes that this walking is a grand enough act to keep her alive; it will be a pilgrimage. He has no walking boots, and no walking socks. He doesn't have a mobile phone. He doesn't even have a change of clothes, but he doesn't care. He's going to do this, and it is going to matter. It's an adorable book. I fell completely in love.

N. P. - Banana Yoshimoto

This is a book about a cursed story, or rather a cursed family that are reminded about their past through a story they can never escape from. Those who have tried to translate it from Japanese have become so engrossed in it that they commit suicide. It draws them in and possesses them; it refuses to allow them to get on with their lives. Kazami is witness to this. She is an observer to a self-destructive family filled with repression. Sui, a long lost daughter and brother, who has slept with both her father and brother, is a destructive person. She's a whirlwind - entering lives fleetingly and powerfully. She takes over Kazami's summer, and Kazami oddly falls under her power; questioning her feelings towards her. This is a dark book, and a story that will also chase you around when you're not reading it. It gets under your skin and won't let go. 


  1. Sigh...more books to add to the stack...I will never get time to read them all!

    1. I'm trying to put myself on a book buying ban as I have so many on the pile... but I am failing miserably!

  2. These all look great! I'll put them on my (ever growing, impossible to finish, I'll-have-to-quit-work-and-read-full-time-to-even-make-a-dent-in) list! Thanks!

  3. If you loved Harold Fry you will absolutley fall in love with The hundred year old man who climbed out his window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson - i loved Harold Fry immensly, then read 100 year old man and was smitten!

    Was just talking to my Murdoch rep about you too here in Hamilton, New Zealand! Can't wait for the book to come in!

    1. I have that on my to-read pile :) will get to it asap. x