I wrote a post called Sunday reading a while back with the misguided belief I'd get loads of reading done, maybe even a book a week. Ha! Unsuprisingly this did not happen. But I have been making a concerted effort to read more and 'A visit from the Goon Squad' has been the favourite of the three books I'm going to mention in this post.
I found it a compelling read about the passage of time and the connections and relationships that occur in our lives which resonated with me in a particularly unique way that no other book has matched. "Now I'm nearly 30," - (Indulge me, there are only a matter of days before I am no longer allowed to get away with this sentence and I feel I'd like to use it in writing before the moment passes.) It makes me think of the curious collection of memories and experiences I have that are formed by the many people I have met in my life so far and how in some cases I have forgotten entirely some people and with others lost touch. What will life be like for me years from now? What will I have 'lost' about myself and what will I have gained? This book makes me question this and the influences of people I know and have known. In all my travels and in all my experience of living in different places I have memories of people who may not have memories of me and vice versa. Similarly some of those people I have very clear memories of - it led me to think what happened to them? How are their stories turning out? Some people I don't see any longer are important parts of my story and what about all those random seemingly meaningless remembrances? Meaningless to you but potentially pivotal in someone else's life.
I do like a book that sends you on a related train of thought. This is almost a collection of short stories rather than a novel but each 'chapter' is a story of different characters, almost subplots that essentially fit and feed into an overall story about how we change as people from our youth through the ages. It made me not want to grow older in some ways and cling onto even a tiny amount of the youthful expectancy I had 10 years ago! Not that I also don't believe age has many many benefits. Unexpected storylines of genocidal dictators, PR disasters and oversexed Music Moguls all added something distinctive to this special book. The chapters all combine and blend together and you are able to understand connections and motivations of the people in the book, it's pretty clever. Generally I found the story entertaining, the characterisation humourous and the writing beautifully crafted. I thoroughly recommend. A book I would happily read again.
I had heard good things about The Cookbook Collector in various women's magazines and I wasn't disappointed. It's based on the story of two sisters, their differences, the dot com crash, how they love and who they love. It's a delicious book - and Allegra Goodman hasn't been hailed as a modern Jane Austen for nothing. Her writing is rich and sensuous and the plot is original and romantic. Yes, there is a cookbook collection that features in the plot but central is the story of Jess and Emily. Well worth a read.
The other book that I couldn't put down was Room by Emma Donoghue. In all honesty I found the language and the writing was not really to my usual taste but I did read it page to page in a couple of evenings because of a need within me to know how it all turned out. Narrated by Jack a 5 year old boy who has never left the confines of 'Room' his entire life. He and his mother are prisoners and this book is their fictitious story. His narrative style is unusual but arresting. The concept troubling but remarkable. Although a disturbing concept it is ultimately a story of maternal love and a completely compulsive read.
Bearing in mind I've only read these three books since my last post, I feel I've done quite well because I enjoyed them all! I'm reading One Day by David Nicholls now. Another over-hyped novel much like those above, however it's keeping me entertained this bank holiday in which both myself, Gwyn and Ruby have all been struck down with one illness or another. I seem to have turned a corner now after alot of sleep. I hate feeling below par and unable to do anything much less read but hopefully it's just a 24 hr thing. Typical when the sun is now shining!
Enjoy the Bank Holiday!