Three things have happened since I left university.
First, I’ve rediscovered my love of literature. Thriller, chick-lit, literary fiction… I don’t care what genre it is; if it’s good, I’ll devour it. There’s no lecturer looking over my shoulder in disdain at what tome is open on my lap. It’s utter book freedom, and it’s great.
Second, I actually have the time to read. Now I’m working 9 to 5 — instead of the student all-nighters in the library — I can jam an hour of reading in before bed. No more essays until lights out.
Third, I can spend my free weekends languishing in the slow atmosphere of bookshops. A few Sundays ago, I wandered for a while in Waterstones, spent some of my book vouchers and left with a heavier bag but lighter heart. Two of the books I bought I’ll share with you today.
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell
I have read this splendid book twice now and — I can tell you honestly — I don’t do that often! Wanting an Edinburgh-based novel to compliment my move to the city, I reopened the cover. The Vanishing Act reveals the hidden story of Esme, a seventy-something woman who has spent almost all of her life locked up in an institution. Why? This is what the reader — and Esme’s last surviving relative, Iris — must discover. O’Farrell’s prose is poetic but not overly floral, and because it’s an easy read you become totally immersed in finding out the characters’ fate. Be prepared to devour this in less than a day.
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
Marina’s posthumous collection of stories and essays spins off her viral Yale essay, ‘The Opposite of Loneliness’. Speaking about being young, future hopes, peer pressure and disappointments, Marina’s writing takes me back to adolescence — in a good way. Plus, after reading just a few pages, it reminds me that I’m still young. I shouldn’t say I can’t, I should follow my heart, I should take that leap of faith… Because you never know when it may all end.
The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs by Tristan Gooley
Although I sometimes dip into non-fiction — Cheryl Strayed’s Wild has to be up there with my favourites — I don’t usually find informative books that gripping. But Tristan Gooley’s The Walker’s Guide is satisfying all my outdoor cravings! When I’m stuck inside on weekday nights, I dive into this book and imagine myself on the hills. From tracking tips, stargazing, navigation aids and weather predictions, this book is a nature lover’s bible!