Recent books ~ 2015, part 2

When look back at my student days, one of things I wish I’d appreciated more was getting the time to read. I had 5 hours a week at university itself and got to spend most of the rest of the time reading a ton of great books that had been picked out for me, I even had a reading week! These days it takes the setting of a goal and the active reminder to spend time on the tube or tucked up in bed with a book, doing something I know I enjoy.

If you come here often, you might know that for the last two years I’ve set myself the goal of reading 12 books a year.  I wrote about the first six months of books in 2015 here, and as we’re over half way through January I thought it was about time I catch up on the last six months of the year!

In book terms, the second half of 2015 passed similarly to the first – I flew through a few, got stuck on one and avoided another. I was hoping to catch up and complete the goal over Christmas but sleep and the other tasks I’d set myself got in the way. I managed another five books, bringing my 2015 total up to 10. (I’d give myself a B for getting pretty close, but could have done better!)

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So what did I read and what did I think? In the order of least to most favourite, here they are!

A Spool of Blue Thread – Anne Tyler – A story about the Whitshank family set in 1959 Baltimore. It moves back and forth between the 50s and 20s as it tells the story of Abby and Red’s relationship, the secrets, the struggles and the events that have shaped the family dynamics.

It’s well written and at times made me chuckle, but overall I found it a bit of a slow read. I’m not sure if this was because I was expecting more than it delivered and that the point of the story is simply the relationships across the family. I think if you’ve got a large and close family with a mixture of relationships, or you have your own grown up family there will be much more to relate to in this book.

Eats, shoots and leaves – Lynne Truss – A well-known book that seeks to set a few things straight in the confusing world of grammar, written with a sense of humour and in a way that feels much less factual than your usual non-fiction.

I chose to read this book because even though I work in communications, I still have to ask myself questions about grammar. I actually enjoyed reading this, but in a way that is different to the enjoyment of reading a fictional book. It certainly helped answer a few questions I had and I found the historical side of it quite interesting. However, it only covers some of the main aspects of grammar and I think most of the book confirmed what I already knew. As I’m not a regular non-fiction reader it also took me ages to finish: If you’re genuinely keen to improve I think this is a great starting point. If you’ve got a good understanding, you might like the historical facts.

The Woodcutter – Kate Danley – A magical novel with a dark side, featuring a collection of infamous fairytale characters that enter the narrative as they come across the Woodcutter’s path in his quest to return order across the Twelve Kingdoms.

I love books that challenge me to use my imagination and can effortlessly transport me into another world. Whilst it wasn’t as good as The Night Circus or The Book of Lost Things, which I felt were a little more clever and had more original plot lines and characters, if you enjoy this genre of book it was a lovely easy read.

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins – This book follows Rachel’s fixation with a couple who live on the street she once lived on. She passes through the back of the couples’ house every day until one day she suddenly notices something is not quite right and things take a different turn.

It was hard to ignore the hype around this book and with the movie currently being filmed I wanted to read it before I watched it. I was glad to find that it lived up to my expectations and as the author cleverly places doubt in each of the core characters, it prevented me from being sure of the conclusion before I finished. I was griped by from start to finish. I agree with other reviews that if you liked Gone Girl then it’s worth reading this. It’s a sort of British equivalent.

(I can’t wait to see Emily Blunt play Rachel in the film!)

Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel – The destruction of a pandemic is something that we’ve lived with for centuries but the idea that it could wipe out most of the world’s population is left to the imagination of film makers and authors. This book follows the outbreak of the Georgia virus and shares the different perspectives of its central characters, moving between the events that led up to the outbreak and the years that followed. All wrapped around a comic and its creator.

I loved this book. It might be a bit of a scary and depressing concept but I thought that how the aftermath of such an event would unfold and how people would think and feel was done so well. The comic was a really clever thread throughout, giving you clues here and there, and helping you think through the book. This is the one book out of this list that James also read and enjoyed, which I think helps me confirm that it’s a general all-round good read!

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Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

I’m really keen to reach the goal of 12 books this year so if you have any recommendations please do share them in the comments below, on Twitter or on Facebook.

If you want to follow what I’m reading right now, I update my current book in the side bar every time I start a new one.

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2 Comments

  1. February 1, 2016 / 5:18 pm

    Also loved Girl on the Train -I didn’t know they were making a film of it -can’t wait!

    • ThisCityLifeLondon
      February 1, 2016 / 6:45 pm

      I’m keeping my fingers crossed the film is as good but I have high hopes for Emily Blunt!