If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I am utterly obsessed with books. The promise of an unopened story, the smell of a fresh page (yes, I’m a book sniffer) and the great weight of a serious tome (much more satisfying than a Kindle).
In the past few months — since I’ve started a ‘real job’ — I’ve let my blog fester a bit. And, since writing (like reading) is one of few things that keep me sane, I’ve made a conscious decision to blog more. One way I want to do this is share what I’m reading each month and hope that you can recommend me some novels in return! No pressure…
So here is what’s on my bookshelf / bedside table in February. It’s quite a broad selection: poems, short stories and a novel. I quite like having a variety so I can dip in and out of lengthier or shorter pieces, depending on how I’m feeling.
After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell
I’ve already gone on about how much I loved O’Farrell’s later novel, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox… and my affair continues! I think I’ve now got the full collection of her books, and the rate at which I devour them isn’t diminishing. Her first novel, After You’d Gone, follows the fall and family life of Alice, a young woman who is in a coma after purportedly attempting suicide. As usual, O’Farrell weaves tales of love and domestic disappointment without making it chick-litty in any way. This is a very modern, very readable romantic novel.
Life: Great Short Stories by Women selected by Victoria Hislop
Since studying English Literature at Glasgow University, I’ve discovered the wonderful and often weird world of the short story. Now — when I struggle to find half an hour for a good stint of reading — I’ll pick up anthologies like Hislop’s to transport myself quickly to a literary universe. Life is one of three books (Love and Loss are the others) that novelist Hislop has curated. Although this selection already contains some of my favourite short stories by Dorothy Parker, Alice Walker and Jennifer Egan, a book like this is a great way to discover some new favourite authors.
The Seasons: The Nation’s Most Treasured Nature Poems
Although I’m a maniac for anything published by Faber & Faber, I have to admit that The Seasons is a bit special. It springboards from Radio 4’s Poetry Please sessions, and contained in its hardcover are a selection of beautiful poems that take you on a metaphorical journey through the year. I suppose you could say this is the poetry companion to Gooley’s The Walker’s Guide; it’s an ode to the colours and changes we experience as nature moves through its annual cycle. One to treasure.