Saturday, 16 February 2013

On my bookshelf...

I learnt to read at the age of two.

I know this is utterly ridiculous, but I swear to go it's true. J is two and a bit years older than me, so when he was starting school and learning to read with Mum, I sat next to him and learnt too. And since, I've loved books, as you might be able to guess from my over-stuffed bookshelf.

I LOVE reading other people's thoughts on books, and Good Reads is brilliant for this. If you have a look at my profile, you will see that I have a big love for historical fiction, but that my reading habits are pretty varied- and I'll be updating this a lot, as I constantly have a massive "want to read" list in my head.

So I thought I'd share my thoughts on some books... If you aren't into book reviews/ reading/ already have a "to read" list as big as a house, feel free to stop reading now.

First up, Atonement, by Ian McEwan. If you've seen the film, you'll know what this is about- if you haven't, it's the story of a young girl who sees something she doesn't understand, gets completely the wrong end of the stick, and essentially ruins two other people's lives because of it. Ian McEwan is one of my favourite authors, and this is my favourite book of his by far. I also think the film is really good, and actually stays quite close to the novel. The writing is brilliant, and I can't recommend this highly enough.

If you're more into the dystopian alternate reality sort of thing, Never Let Me Go could be for you. Again, the film was good, but not as close to the novel as Atonement. I kind of don't want to explain the story, as I think that would give a lot away, but again, the writing is fantastic and it reminds us that deep down, we're all human with exactly the same emotions. Love this. 

Suite Francaise was the inspiration for my final-year dissertation (hence all the post-its down the side!). It was written by a Jewish Russian woman, who was a naturalised French citizen, about the exode which occurred when Germany invaded France in 1940. She was later killed in Auschwitz, and this novel (which was "unfinished" at the time of her death) lay undiscovered for fifty years. The book is in two parts, the first of which follows various Parisians as they flee the city ahead of the German army, and the second relates to the Occupation more directly. It's hard to imagine that this could have been more perfect if she'd "finished" it- I think it's incredible as it is.

A lot of people have read Birdsong, but I don't know whether people would have read Engleby, which is so darkly different to Birdsong that it's hard to believe they're written by the same author. Again, telling you a lot about the story would give things away, but it's darkly funny and really very good. Read it.

How To Breathe Underwater is, as Monica Ali has sad on the cover, unbelievably good. It's a collection of short stories, which normally I wouldn't like, but this really drew me in and I loved it. I definitely prefer some of the stories to others- I often skip one of them- but the title story is definitely my favourite. Even if you aren't into short stories, this is worth reading.

And finally, a "currently reading". HHhH stands for Himmler's Hirn heißt Heydrich, which translates as "Himmler's brain is called Heydrich". This is a slightly strange book, but fabulous if you studied history, like me. It's both the story of an assassination attempt on Heydrich, "the butcher of Prague", and about the author's struggle against making things up as he wrote. It's almost a Brechtian novel, if that makes sense. I'm really enjoying it, but it's not something I struggle to put down- this might be because reading it takes a fair amount of brain power, which I don't seem to have at the moment!! I'd definitely recommend it though.

OK, so I know I've been almost universally positive here, but seriously, these are all great!!! And I'm not the sort of person to say that a book was rubbish- for example, I am really not a big fan of Catcher in the Rye, which other people adore- as I think reading is so subjective.

What are you reading at the moment? I'm always looking for new recommendations! 


  1. I always love seeing book posts on people's blogs (probably because like you, I've been reading since before I started school and I've got an eternally mile-high list of books I've been meaning to read)!
    Suite Francaise so good - so I'll definitely have to pick that up!
    Thanks for the suggestions :)
    <3 Kiersten

    1. Suite Francaise is amazing. Honestly, so good! You're welcome, I hope you enjoy them! :) x

  2. i know what you're talking about!
    i loooove books and my bookshelf is definitely overloaded! i love variety kind of books including history or fiction history. but lately i'm really into science crime fiction!

    1. Ooh I've never really delved into science crime fiction- but if you have any particular recommendations, I'd love to know! :) x


  3. Invitation - inglês
    I'm Brazilian.
    Spent reading here, and visit his blog.
    I also have one, only much simpler.
    I'm inviting you to visit me, and if possible follow together for them and with them. I always liked to write, expose and share my ideas with people, regardless of class Social, Religious Creed, the Sexual Orientation, or, of Ethnicity.
    To me, what will interest is our exchange of ideas, and, thoughts.
    I'm there in my space Simpleton, waiting for you.
    And I'm already following your blog.
    Strength, Peace, Friendship and Happiness
    For you, a hug from Brazil.

    1. Thank you! I'll have a look at your blog :) x

  4. I loved Never Let Me Go - I want to read more by Ishiguro. I'm really glad I found your blog - it's lovely! :)

    1. It's so good! I also have Remains of the Day, but haven't got around to reading it yet. Thank you so much- your blog is really lovely too! :) x

  5. Some great reads on here - I am always looking for a new one to pick up! I am currently halfway through Atonement (not too sure why it has taken me so long to get around to reading it!) and really enjoying it so far! Hannah x

    1. You definitely should give some of these a go after you've finished with Atonement! Suite Francaise is particularly brilliant :) xx


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