Sunday, October 14

A Summer of Reading


With Autumn on the doorstep, I don't know how much I'll be able to read now I'm back at work so here's a reflection on what I read over the Summer.

I have never read as many books in my Summer as I did this year. Normally it’s one or two books, during the flights here and there, however, as I ended up having five mini holidays I ended up reading eight books in the months of July and August, six of which were between July 26th and August 26th…so…here's what I read...

It started with ‘Il Piccolo Principe’ (The Little Prince) in Italian. For anyone who hasn’t heard of this childhood classic, it is originally written by a French author, Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, and is a lovely dialogue between the narrator and a little prince who elaborates on the different worlds he has been visiting looking for a friend. Each planet has a character, which tells a moral. It’s full of wonderful imagery, and really calls your imagination to wake up! I read that between park breaks and weekends, finishing it on the way to Pescara, I think.

I can’t really remember which book I read next, but I remember taking Oryx and Crake with me to Marseille, finding it really hard to put it down. It is a classic Margaret Atwood science fiction, which creates a world, a few decades ahead of us, with the characters living in a very split world. I won’t say anymore as it's worth a read and enjoyed it because I didn’t have a clue what Oryx and Crake were until reading it. But I will tell you it is the first of the MacAddams trilogy, which I didn’t know until I finished it!

The book I read in the fastest time was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling. As this is a script, it took me roughly two and a half hours one afternoon while H was at work. I enjoyed the quick pace of the story as it gathered the old, well-loved characters together and added their offspring. In particular I found the main storyline focusing on the relationship between Harry and one of his sons well written and a common ‘story’ that I’m sure many parents may fight themselves.

The least enjoyable book of the Summer was Righto Jeeves, one of the many Jeeves series by P.G. Wodehouse. Strangely there was an inscription in the book that said something along the lines of ‘you must read at least one Wodehouse in your lifetime’. I am glad I have indeed done that, but I won’t be picking up another Jeeves book in my lifetime. I found the main character far to idiotic, and the language itself, in it's famous ‘BBC’ English was, for me, unbearable. As a sitcom it works perfectly, but as a book, it was just too much for me.

Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life was fantastic! I read the sequel/prequel thing (A God in Ruins) last Summer, and although I enjoyed that book more, I found that Life After Life was a real ‘thinker’ of a book. It was irritating the amount of lives that are in it, but then that is the point. I liked how Atkinson led you through the characters and added more depth and breadth to them each life around.

The last book I read was given to me for my birthday by a friend: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It was a tale inspired by the Bible story of Hosea, with the main character called ‘Micheal Hosea’. I read it very quickly, and actually managed to read each paragraph (I tend to skim read unless I like the book, i.e. I skimmed pages and pages of Righto Jeeves). The main character was set up well, and I felt such a strong connection to her as she struggles to understand emotion after years of having to suppress it. 

I left one book with my brother in England as I finished it while staying with him: A Short Guide to Tractors in the Ukraine by Marina Lewycka. It was the silliest book I read of the Summer as an elderly gentleman marries a much younger Ukrainian woman and the story leads you through the marriage, and subsequent separation by the point of view of one of the daughters. I think that there were some aspects of the storyline I didn’t catch as there were insinuations of situations that led me to reread some passages a few times, but other than that, it was ok.

The book that struck me the most was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hossain. Following the life of a boy and his friend, who live in Afghanistan during turbulent times, the writing was incredible. I am not usually able to read passages of ‘gory details’, but the writing was so poetic and attached me to the characters that I was able to ‘hold on’ to the characters even when they were going through hell. I highly recommend this book as it really is emotional yet eye opening to what I imagine is still happening in some parts of the world.

Out of the books I read I’ll be keeping Redeeming Love, Oryx and Crake and The Kite Runner on my shelf until I am ready to part with them, they have left their mark. Whereas the others, except the Harry Potter, will be moving on to any colleagues or the Christmas Fair at church: I don’t like to keep books unless they have really had an impact.

Roll on the Christmas break!