This week I’ve been reading… Married Love and other stories by Tessa Hadley

I picked up this book immediately after finishing War and Peace. I picked it up without much thought but I do have to wonder if subconsciously I was craving short stories. After 4000 pages of the same people, places and events being introduced to and done with a character all in 20 pages was a welcome relief.  And whereas in War and Peace I found myself skim reading to get it over with as soon as possible, in Married Love I wanted to savour every word because it was the writing that had all the beauty. Almost like poetry.

The stories in general perhaps had more in common with poetry than a traditional novel. Many of them didn’t really have a notable plot; nothing much changed from beginning to end. Instead of being full-fledged narratives they were more like snippets of stories, brief glimpses into a life, like you’re peering in through a person’s window as you walk down the road.

And because there wasn’t a plot I didn’t get hung up wanting to find out what would happen next. Usually I see long-winded descriptions, character sketches and scene setting as a waste of time, an obstacle to get through to get to the really good stuff: the story. But with no story to worry about I could fully immerse myself in the subtle, delicate writing style.

It’s that lack of a narrative, that uneventfulness, which ties together all the stories. The characters’ imaginations take them on a course that their life never actually does – Shelley expects the worst news about her son, Alec expects the worst news about his sister, Ally takes an unnecessary risk, Kirsten acts without thinking – and they all come out the other side unscathed.

But although the worst never does happy, it doesn’t prevent an overwhelming sense of misery in all the stories. From the slow, introspective writing style and the dreary normality of the lives being portrayed. The dramatic life-defining crescendo might seem the more emotional of the two options but Tessa Hadley articulates so well the quiet melancholy of everyday life that it becomes far more relatable and therefore far more affecting.

This week I’ve been reading… Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (and I won’t be sleeping again)

I’ve been on a bit of a thriller hype the past few months. It had always been a genre I’ve avoided because, well, I’m a massive scaredy-cat. But I couldn’t ignore all the clamour being made about Girl on the Train so I jumped on that bandwagon. And loved it.

It seems obvious to say it, but it was so gripping, couldn’t-put-it-down, a-real-page-turner – just all the clichés.

And the more thrillers I read the more arrogant I was getting because I just wasn’t finding them that scary. They had moments that made me tense up but nothing that was actually keeping me up at night. I was really starting to think that I had got over my wimpiness.

Well, Dark Places, I take it all back. Continue reading “This week I’ve been reading… Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (and I won’t be sleeping again)”

An irrational phobia of reviewing books

I didn’t start this blog as a place to review books. I thought my book content would be all lists, comparisons, thoughtful pieces on the way YA fiction has evolved, well considered arguments on why Mansfield Park is the best Jane Austen novel. And to start off it was mostly like that. I actually resisted writing reviews because, to quote myself, I wanted to be different to ‘every other book blogger doing a review of the books they read.’

But my originality dried up. Or, to put a nicer spin on it, I discovered reviews were quite fun to write. Sometimes because I love the book and need to shout about it every which way I can and others because the book is so horrendously bad that I need a place to let off steam. Continue reading “An irrational phobia of reviewing books”

This week I’ve been reading… Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

It has actually happened. I have read Gone Girl. After all those months of delays and excuses, reading every other thriller I could get my hands on apart from the one that started the whole craze, I finally pulled it off the shelf.

I’d been putting it off partly because I knew it wouldn’t be able to live up to this fearsome hype it’s amassed and partly because I expected it to be really scary and really addictive, the kind of book that needs a whole day set aside to just devour it and still have time to watch a Disney film afterwards to remind you that the world is in general a cheerful happy place. Continue reading “This week I’ve been reading… Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn”

This week I’ve been reading… The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Read this book, my mum said. It’s really heart-warming, she said.

Heart-warming? Heart-warming?! I started tearing up on about page 50 and cried pretty much continuously until the very end. Continue reading “This week I’ve been reading… The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows”

The Classics Book Tag

I was sort of tagged to do this post by Jess at The Mud and Stars Book Blog. Well, I saw the tag on her blog. But I immediately knew I had to do it. I haven’t done any tags in ages because as much fun as they are to do they tend to have a heavy YA focus which isn’t a genre I read that much of. Classics however, now that’s a different story.

If I had to choose only one genre of book to read it would without a doubt be classics. Which is a bit of a sneaky choice really because classics aren’t really a genre – they cover all genres, they just happen to be old. Continue reading “The Classics Book Tag”

Top Ten Tuesday: The Ten Funniest Books

I love an opportunity to reminisce about things that make me laugh. Because once I’ve found something funny odds are years later I’ll still be giggling at it – old jokes and Friends repeats and these ten books below (some of which haven’t had to stand the test of time yet but I’m confident they will). So this week’s Top Ten Tuesday was right up my alley. Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday: The Ten Funniest Books”

This week I’ve been reading… Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

The more I enjoy a book the harder I find it to write the review. I don’t know whether this is just because it’s easier to criticise than praise. Or because writing a positive review can quickly become gushy, and no one wants to read that.

Anyway, this review of Station Eleven is really really hard to write. Continue reading “This week I’ve been reading… Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel”