Book Count (since 1 January 2012)

Book Count (since 1 January 2014): 30

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Starter for Ten by David Nicholls

This is definitely a book for men. It is about an awkward adolescent trying to fit in at university and attract the attention of a popular girl, which he does by trying to join the University Challenge team. The humour is very masculine and the central character is quite hard to relate to (or at least, I thought he was but then I have never been an adolescent boy). It is an easy book to read but not particuarly exciting. One Day is much, much better.

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant

Quite entertaining, and a bit of light relief after Possession, but it won't set your world on fire. The novel is set in a fifteenth century nunnery and the main characters are an established nun who is the nunnery's dispensary and a new novice who's been unwillingly separated from her lover and forced to live in the convent. Both characters are likeable and the historical context is really interesting but the plot isn't fantastically exciting. There's nothing amazing about this book, but it is a good, light read and the historical element definitely makes it worth a read.

Possession by AS Byatt

This is another from the '10 Books to Read Before You Die' talk. At one point I was pretty sure I wouldn't live long enough. It is an excellently written novel and is incredibly clever, but not very easy to read. At times in fact, it was a real struggle. The plot follows two scholars who each study a different nineteenth century poet and who work together to investigate a possible romantic connection between the two poets, starting with previously undiscovered letters between them. There are all sorts of fantastic sub-plots and wonderfully expressive language which makes for a very powerful novel, but not a very accessible one. A S Byatt has included a lot of poems in this novel, which are all excellent but again, not always very readable. I definitely agree that this book should be read before you die, but don't expect any escapism here. I got the feeling throughout reading this book that I was missing an awful lot of intellectual references and subtleties, which would no doubt make this a more rewarding read but would you would need to put a lot of time into it to access that extra level of meaning. And you would need your dictionary.

The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan

I really enjoyed this book. It is very easy to read and the plot is excellent - it really keeps your interst. I enjoyed the writing and all the characters are realistic and likeable. It is set in a Welsh town and the writing is very gentle which diffuses a lot of the darker parts of the story so it isn't as depressing as it might otherwise be. I would definitely recommend this novel.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Everyone raves about this book, and I did enjoy it. There are six separate stories, which are very different but which are all linked together. They are set in completely different eras and narrated by very different characters, all of which are very well defined. The writing is excellent and each story is very compelling. The down side or me was that the separation of all the stories made it a bit disjointed and sometimes quite frustrating to read. The book is still really good and does work overall but whilst you are reading it, the narrative is a bit halting which is why this isn't, for me, a three star book. Definitely worth a read though and much more deserving of its popularity than some other rave books.