Now that the evenings are shorter and darkness comes that bit earlier, I seem to have lots of time for reflection on my hands. Yesterday I was looking through this year’s list of books that I have currently read so far (my goodreads aim this year is 60+) and I decided to pick out my favourite five from this summer’s reading list.
Here they are in no particular order:
- A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness with Siobhán Dowd): This book caught my eye years ago but I never took the plunge until the inevitable hype started to float around in anticipation of this year’s upcoming film. What a powerful story. Patrick Ness completed this story in his own way upon the passing of Siobhán Dowd and that alone tinges the story with sadness. Jim Kay’s illustrations are equally mind blowing and perfectly match the dark undertones of the story. The ending is real lump in the throat territory.
- Slade House (David Mitchell): This was my first ever David Mitchell read and it blew me away. Initially the cover grabbed my attention and I liked the idea of a old fashioned chiller. In the end, it was Mitchell’s immense character building strengths and his ominous, cyclical plot mechanism that reeled me in. This is a must read as Halloween approaches. Since reading this I have gone on to enjoy the Bone Clocks and I now have Cloud Atlas sitting patiently on one of my shelves.
- The Revenant (Michael Punke): I picked this one up after really enjoying the film in my local cinema. Frontier type stories have always struck a chord with me and I was surprised to find that the novel was very different from the successful film. That’s not to say that Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s adaptation failed to live up to the novel. Both works stand up in their own right and, in my opinion, greatly complement each other. If you want a different ending and more hardship surviving in the cold, read this one.
- Undermajordomo Minor (Patrick DeWitt): I loved this book so much while reading it. Years ago I was introduced to Patrick DeWitt when his western novel The Sisters Brothers fell into my hands thanks to a generous deal with a national newspaper. I loved that book then and I really enjoyed this one for it underlying sarcastic tone and hapless characters. It is impossible to read DeWitt and not smile.
- An Officer And A Spy (Robert Harris): A friend recommended this one to me. Not to be confused with the Richard Gere film, An Officer and A Gentleman, this remarkable work of historical fiction by Richard Harris describes the Dreyfus Affair in fantastic detail. A man is wrongly accused of betraying his country and exiled until death on the appropriately named Devil’s Island. As I read through this it was impossible to ignore the notion that ‘this actually happened’ as the shocking case revealed itself.
Other summer reads:
- The Man In The High Castle: A Philip K. Dick classic featuring an alternative world where the Allies lost WWII. Interesting in that it features a novel within a novel.
- Witches, Spies and Stockholm Syndrome: An interesting look at life in Medieval Ireland. A period that is often bypassed in history lessons.
- About Sisterland: An interesting read depicting a world where women rule the roost with an iron fist.
- The Guest Cat: A small, simple read by Japanese author Takashi Hiraide. Life changes for a married couple when a cat comes into their lives.
- Grief is the thing with feathers: A crow helps a widowed father and his children cope with the devastating loss that comes with death.
- Door into the Dark: My first official read into Seamus Heaney’s poetry. Did not disappoint.
- The Nightwalker: A thriller from German writer Sebastian Fitzek. A very disorientating read as the main character struggles with control over his sleepwalking and the loss of his wife Natalie.
- Kahlil Gibran: The Collected Works: An amazing collection of his finest work and one of those reads that you never truly ‘finish’.
- Orphan X: I have to say that I was very disappointed with this read when it looked like it would rival I am Pilgrim as this summer’s breakout thriller.
- Wishes Fulfilled: I love Dr Wayne Dyer’s work so this was always going to be an enjoyable read for me. This one really pushed the limits of my beliefs and is one that I would like to come back to.
- The Hidden Pleasures of Life: Theodore Zeldin asks a serious of deep questions and then answers them with his own unique approach.