I’m keeping track of every book I read this year, month by month.
Just in case anyone does fancy reading something I’ve mentioned, I’m giving details of the books (no more of a spoiler than you’d read on the blurb) and a rating. My rating system is 1 – 5:
- 1 Awful, the writer should be banished to a far away land
- 2 Poor, I didn’t die of boredom but it was a struggle to reach the end
- 3 Average, fine but I’ll have forgotten about it in a year
- 4 Good, I enjoyed this
- 5 Excellent, hot damn this is a great book and the writer should be knighted
Title(s): Still Alice by Lisa Genova
About: Alice is a tenured University Professor in her 50s when she discovers she has early onset dementia.
My Rating: 4.5 Very Good.
I always find it tricky to read fiction about medical conditions when based largely on reality. The author has clearly done her research here and it’s hard not to put yourself in Alice’s position. In fact, when I asked a few people if they’d read the book, they said they deliberately hadn’t because they’d start hyper-obsessing over similar symptoms.
As silly as it sounds, I think that’s true, you do start to think, ‘I do that…’ or ‘that’s happened to me…’ so maybe don’t read this if you’re hypersensitive to stuff!
All in all this is a very sad but extremely well-written tale of a woman struggling to come to terms with losing her memory and trying to make the most of the time left with her family.
I’m not often very emotionally attached when it comes to things like this, but I actually really felt for Alice and her children. So much so that I kept telling my other half what was happening and he ended up reading the book too!
Read this if you like: The Fault in Our Stars ( I did, it’s up shortly), Elizabeth is Missing, If I stay
Title(s): The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy
About: This story revolves around three characters: a woodsman, who lives beside a rotting apple orchard; a young boy; and an outlaw. The young boy becomes friends with the outlaw, who unbeknownst to him, is his father’s killer.
My Rating: 4, Good
I’m delving into a lot of Cormac McCarthy (and trying to spread it out so all my ‘reads’ are not this, don’t worry) due to his being a big influence of Stephen King, one of my favourite writers.
This is McCarthy’s first novel and if I’d not read any others, I might have found it slightly off-putting. It’s a little clumsy in places and some of his narrative devices frankly just make things complicated and confusing in places. Once you get into his rhythm it’s much easier, though.
His books tend to revolve around a very small, intense group of characters and this is no different. I didn’t feel much for any of the characters but I was intrigued as to where the plot would go. Like all his works, there are strong biblical themes present in the story and some pretty strong moral messages. At times he can feel like a lecture but if you’re interested in reading McCarthy’s works then his first novel is a must; just maybe not the first one you should pick up.
Read this if you like: More ‘popular’ McCarthy (The Road, No Country For Old Men, etc), American Rust, The Revenant
Title(s): Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
About: Lester Ballard, is a violent, thoroughly awful man who takes a liking to necrophilia (yes, he has sex with corpses…). Not much more to say about that really.
My Rating: 3, Average – although I won’t forget it in a hurry
This was a very uncomfortable read about a man who gradually becomes more isolated from society and more depraved.Without a home or family, he ends up dwelling in a cave and gradually (gradually?!) succumbing to necrophilia and murder – yes, in that order, he actually doesn’t kill the first one!
Again, McCarthy is aiming for strong themes: isolation, morality, sexuality. Whilst we’re on Lester’s, um, journey(?), we’re filled in on a little of his back story to give us some context to his ‘current’ behaviour. Whilst this doesn’t make him a more likeable or tolerable character, it does mean the book is more than shock and deviancy for the sake of it. Still, this was a troubling read and not to be considered light bedtime reading!
Read this if you like: More ‘popular’ McCarthy (The Road, No Country For Old Men, etc), High-Rise
Title(s): The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
About: Hazel has terminal cancer but has had her life extended due to a miraculous tumour-shrinking drug. She falls in love with Augustus Waters and that, is our book.
My Rating: 4, Good
I don’t normally read this kind of thing, but… but; I was ordering from World of Books and there was a 3 for 2 offer – this was on it. Also, the point of this blog is kind of to stretch myself and read things I wouldn’t necessarily read, so, there we go.
It’s a sweet-sad little story. It ended the way I thought it would, which was slightly predictable but also it didn’t end exactly how I thought. I liked both Hazel and Augustus, although found the latter to be a little of a cliché. I enjoyed the journey and it was an easy read – certainly something you can get through in a couple of sittings.
Read this if you like: Paper Towns, P.S I love You, If I Stay
Until next time, folks. See you in May for April’s reads.