I have eclectic taste in books and movies. I read most things, as long as it’s well written. I have absolutely no patience for bad writing, which is why I only got to page 11 of Fifty Shades (see here for my review of that.)
I love non-fiction. I love crime and detective novels. I hate chick lit. I don’t have the patience for long winded descriptive passages. I love historic novels.
Often times I’ll read a book and love it, but I won’t be able to tell you what happened. I don’t always read for the story.
I read for the writing, I read for the words.
That’s what happened when I read perks of being a wallflower (see here). It’s one of my all time favourite books, but I’ve left it off the official list. Maybe because it’s a young adult book.
Maybe because it’s different.
I’m not sure why.
Without further ado, my reading list. I cannot tell you how many books I adore that I have not listed here:
The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield)
A young, quiet woman who works in her family’s bookstore is handpicked by the world’s most famous and enigmatic author, Vida Winter, to write her biography. Ms Winter’s true life story is not known but now she wants to tell her story. And oh, what a story. A mystery rich with secrets, hidden crimes, family drama and intrigue. Rich characters, an intricate plot line and poetic writing.
People of the Book (Geraldine Brooks)
Based on real life events, an ancient Jewish Hagaddah resurfaces in the smouldering ruins of Sarajevo at the end of the civil war. This book and these facts are true. In the Brooks’s fictional account, an Australian book restorer is hired by the UN to examine this controversial book (the civil war was one of ethnic cleansing and involved the various religions in the area) and determine it’s authenticity. The author takes you on a journey, following this book from the moment it is created to where it is now. Across countries and cultures, through wars and tragedy. Another all-time favourite of mine.
The Secret Scripture (Sebastian Barry)
A tragic story of an old woman who has spent most of her life in a psychiatric hospital in Ireland, under the care of a kind-hearted doctor. The hospital is closing down and the patients are either to be released or moved to a new hospital. Roseanne has been a patient since the days when you didn;t need to be mentally ill to be admitted. She has no family. Through her memories, her journals and her doctor’s investigating her story begins to emerge. The twist at the end will have you hopping.
The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
This has been made into a movie, which I have not seen. He has another book which equally heartbreaking. Amir is the son of a wealthy Afghan businessman, who grows up with Hassan, the son of the servant. They are best friends and brothers until one day something happens which will change their relationship and their lives. Eventually Amir and his father flee war, to America, but still Hassan haunts his memories. The most wonderful, tragic, memorable read.
The Time Travelers Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
This was also a movie and it wasn’t good. But the book I loved. It is far too complicated to explain. I’ll try. A man who can travel time. He has no control over where he will go or when and there is no order or pattern. The one place he keeps returning to, is the childhood home of his future wife. This is, quite simply, the story of their lives.
The Dry Grass of August (Anne Jean Mayhew)
This is the same genre as The Help and this one has gone unappreciated. Sent in the space of just a week, in the hot summer of 1954, Jubie Watts and her family begin a roadtrip that will take them into the deep South with their black maid. Jubie’s father is not with them. Told through the voice of 13 year old Jubie, you slowly begin to understand what her family is running away from. Along the way, Jubie childlike view of the world is forced, tragically, to grow up. An utterly exquisite read. This was Anna Jean Mayhew’s first novel, at 71, and she spent nearly a decade writing it.
Less Than Zero (Bret Easton Ellis)
A cult novel, a debut for the then 21 year old Bret Easton Ellis. A short, shocking, intense read. Teenagers in Los Angeles living a life of sex and drugs. This one, I read for the writing. I can’t even tell you more. It’s hectic.
Ladder of Years (Anne Tyler)
An old book which I often find myself rereading. It’s a gentle, relatable read about a middle-aged woman who, while on a family beach holiday, walks away from her life wearing only her bathing suit and a beach rove. She tells no one where she is or why she’s gone, she simply sets up a new life for herself. It’s a strangely comforting book, a great holiday read.
Water to Elephants (Sara Gruen)
Also a movie which I hated. Jacob’s parents die suddenly and, with one exam left before he qualifies as a vet, he drops out of university and hops on a train. A circus worker finds him a job with a travelling circus, working with the animals. It is there that he meets Rosie, the elephant, and Marlena, her beautiful trainer. It is a wonderful story detailing the lives of the travelling circuses in the USA during the depression era. Filled with love, drama and tragedy this book ticks all the boxes.
One Day (David Nicholls)
Another movie not worth watching, mainly because who the hell cast Anne-oying Hathaway as Emma. Emma and Dex meet on their last night at Edinburgh University. It is the 15th July. The story chronicles their relationship over the next twenty years, always opening on the 15th July. Sometimes they are friends. Sometimes they are not. Their lives swoop in and out of each others, both separate and intricately linked. It is a love story and it is heartbreaking. It’s the story of two people, despite everything.
Special mention must go to these Young Adult titles. I left them off the main list for various reasons. Because they’re quick reads. And because Keri said ‘no fantasy’.
Harry Potter – left off the list because everyone knows him anyway. I reread the entire series at least once a year. I envy her imagination.
The Hunger Games – Particularly the first one. A truly gripping read.
Looking for Alaska (John Green) – Another book I read for the writing. The way this man marries words is incredible.