2017 Books ~ Chapter One

After almost a month without internet, I’m finally back! We’ve sort of settled into our new home (albeit with very little furniture) and I’m slowly getting used to a completely new area.

With life being quite hectic these last few months, I’m really disappointed to say that (in addition to a lack of regular blogging) I have failed on the reading goal over the first half of the year.  My work involves a lot of writing, reading and editing and from February to April I was managing the peak of four or five projects. Then we had our offer accepted on our new house in March so quite a bit of spare time was been spent on that. Life just gets in the way sometimes!

That said, with no TV, only having wifi quite recently and having a longer commute now, I have smashed three books in a month and I’m determined to keep going. So rather than beat myself up about the chance I might fail my target of 18 books this year, I thought you might like to know what I have managed read. It’s holiday season after all and I reckon most of what I’ve read would be ideal for lounging on the beach or poolside!

The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry

Released from the confines of a difficult marriage by the death of her domineering husband, Cora Seaborne moves from the bustling capital to a quiet village by the sea. It’s 1893 and for many years Cora felt the pressure of meeting society’s expectations, when deep down inside she had a thirst for scientific discovery and held no desire for fashion or folly.  Aldwinter provides her with a place to embrace her interests, which collide with the village’s religious inhabitants. The arrival of the Essex Serpent shows the struggle between science, religion and myth of the era. But the story also touches on other issues at that time, like London’s divide between the rich and poor.

What I liked most was the contrast of scenes between the city and the sea, and how this leads to a mixture of characters and the wider context of life at that time. It’s a really easy, enjoyable read. I think you’d like it if you enjoy period dramas or books with a mythical aspect.

The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan

Andrew Pearson has spent half his life collecting lost objects after failing to keep his wife’s promise. As he realises he’s running out of time to return hundreds of lost objects, he leaves his house and treasures to his assitant Laura. It is her job to reunite them with their owners. The story is not just about two characters but a handful of owners whose lives ultimately intertwine.

Whilst I thought it was in parts quite cheesy and a bit cliche (the dating scenes are a bit cringy in my opinion), it is overall a lovely story and I liked the clues given through out that lead you to the ending. You’ll like this if you enjoy romances and easy to read stories.

The Book of Lost & Found – Lucy Foley

Following the tragic death of her mother, a famed ballerina, Kate Darling goes on a journey to unravel the hidden secrets of her family’s past. It takes her back to the 1920s, through the wars and up to the present day in the 1980s. It travels between London, Paris, New York and Corsica as Kate deals with her grief and finds out who she is and where she has come from.

I really loved this book. I generally love stories around the 1920s, but it was the visual details of the different cities and the unravelling of secrets that made it capitaviting. You’ll like this if you enjoy books by Kate Morton or Kate Mosse.

Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love as teenagers, however, life in Nigeria pulls them apart. Ifemelu travels to America to escape the military dictatorship of the time in the hope of greater opportunities, but Obinze is denied access and forced into an undocumented life in London. 13 years later they find themselves both back in Nigeria, Obinze a wealthy businessman and Ifemelu a vocal race blogger.

Chimamanda tackles not only issues relating to race in America, but also the struggles of fitting into a culture completely different to your own and how to find your own voice. It’s a very powerful book that puts the reader into the shoes of Ifemelu and Obinze. It’s certainly an eye opener as someone who has never lived in a culture different to my own or been in the minority. Whilst the focus is largely on race, I did think that the themes apply to anyone who has lived as a minority group. I think it’s worth anyone reading this as it’s not only well-written, but it has an interesting story and context. Thanks Jaime for the recommendation!

Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult

Ruth is a dedicated nurse, passionate about bringing new life into the world and caring for mothers. When a baby dies after a routine procedure, there is no doubt who will be blamed – the nurse who was banned from looking after him by his father. The court case takes Ruth, her lawyer and the father on a journey of realisation about the world that surrounds them.

I was drawn to Jodi’s latest novel on the basis of a review that said it was a ‘To Kill a Mockingbird for the 21st century’. A powerful book in it’s day, I was drawn to find out what a modern version might have in store. Whilst I’m not sure Jodi’s book will reach such an iconic status, she does cover an incredibly relevant topic and offers a perspective of racism from three different characters. Like Americanah it’s an eye opener for anyone who hasn’t found themselves in that position. I think what I took away from it was the concept of passive racism. It’s so easy not to see someone else’s experience and carry on life being completely ignorant of it. It definitely offers food for thought.

I think you’d like this book if you’ve read Americanah, you like Jodi’s other books or you’re looking for a really relevant read.

 

If you’ve read any of these books, do share your views in the comments below. I would love to read them! (I’d also love any recommendations of course!)

As we’re now in the swing of the summer and I have a garden (!!!) to read in,  I’m hoping that I’ll do better this next half of the year! Wish me luck! 🙂

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6 Comments

  1. July 24, 2017 / 12:53 pm

    Good luck! I’m also a little behind but hoping that a couple of more relaxing pool / boat holidays will help me catch up before the end of the year 🙂

    I LOVED the Keeper of Lost Things and also really enjoyed Small Great Things – more than I have for a few Jodi Picoults, I think she might be back to her best with that one!

    I went a bit retro with my last choice, inspired by watching “Z: The Beginning of Everything” and read Tender Is The Night – the more I read of it, the more I enjoyed until I was genuinely disappointed to finish it last night! I think I’m going to read When Breath Becomes Air next… although I’m very tempted by the Essex Serpent on that description 🙂

    • ThisCityLifeLondon
      July 24, 2017 / 1:02 pm

      Sounds like you’ve got some perfect places to read this year! Of course, there’s also cosying up in autumn too.

      I’ll have to chat to you about Small Great Things, it’s one of those books I feel like there’s more to say about it but it was hard to put into written words.

      I’ve just downloaded Tender is the Night from your comment. I had it on my Goodreads list and was looking for my next book but wasn’t sure which one to go with. Solved my indecisiveness! Thank you!! 😊

  2. July 25, 2017 / 9:13 am

    I’ve also recently read The Essex Serpent and enjoyed it, Cora reminded me a bit of myself!! I’ve also read Americanah and LOVED it, and if you enjoyed that then I would heartily recommend the same author’s ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ about the civil war in Nigeria- absolutely brilliant read with fantastic strong characters and taught me a lot about a country I know very little about. In the past couple of months the books that have kept me gripped are the ‘Cazalet Chronicles’ by Elizabeth Howard -there’s 5 books in the series altogether and it’s about an upper class English family, the series starts between WW1 and WW2 and follows the family through the second war, the aftermath and into the 1950s. If you like historical family sagas this is a great one!

    The comment above made me smile -I’ve just started ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ as it’s the book for my book club at the end of the month- I’m a quarter through and I am quite enjoying it so far but then being a doctor I relate to a lot of what he writes about medical school, anatomy dissections etc- I’d say you want to be cautious with it if you’re squeamish!

    I’m intrigued by the Jodi Picoult book you mention -I used to absolutely love her stuff and read everything she brought out. I went off them after the dire film of ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ and haven’t read any since, but perhaps I’ll give ‘Small Great Things’ a go…

    Nice to see you back again, hope you’re settling into your new home well 🙂

    • ThisCityLifeLondon
      August 9, 2017 / 3:11 pm

      Thanks for the lovely comment Anita, sorry it’s taken me so long to reply! I always look forward to your book recommendations as you do so well at finding different things to read about. In fact, I’m sure I need to go back through some posts and make a list. Half of a Yellow Sun sounds interesting and I’m intrigied about the Cazalet Chronicles, I vaguely recall hearing of it before but it certainly sounds up my street and very ‘Downton-esque.

      Not sure if you’ll see this to reply, but how do you find book clubs? I’ve wondered about joining one or starting one as I really enjoy discussing books but have too much to say for a comments box! 🙂 Hope you’re having a good summer (despite the rain!)

      • August 15, 2017 / 7:56 am

        just spotted this by chance!! agree Cazalet Chronicles is indeed very Downton-esque!
        As for book clubs, I actually belong to 2 – one is online (via an online forum I belong to and then we decided to start a book club- we usually gather on Facebook on the last Wednesday of the month and use Facebook chat to discuss the book). The other was just set up by my friend Katy as she noticed several of her friends had mentioned they wanted to be in a book club- we aren’t that well organised though and it’s been about 5 months since we last met! So I’m afraid that isn’t very technical advice -but definitely if you have a few ‘booky’ friends it might be worth starting one yourself!

        • ThisCityLifeLondon
          August 15, 2017 / 8:16 am

          Oh that’s interesting. I follow Poppy Loves Book Club but haven’t been able to keep up with the books. I’m going to have a think and see if it’s something I could do and keep up!

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