Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Summer of Reading

This year, instead of our usual tour around Spain, we've stayed "at home" in south west Germany. Circumstances have not allowed us to travel. When it dawned on me that I would have a lot of time to read, I decided to buy a Kindle rather than use up my luggage allowance with paperbacks before coming over from the UK.

I've been asked by a couple of people for recommended reads, so here is my Top Ten. These are not in any particular order!

1. "The Dying Light" by Henry Porter. This is a story set in the very near future and is all about surveillance - in my opinion a "must-read"! It's a direct descendent of 1984 by George Orwell.

2.  "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin. If The Dying Light is a descendent, then "We" is the father of both Brave New World and 1984. A classic dystopian novel, written I believe in 1927. It's a translation from the Russian and although I found it a little strange to read at first, the style of writing absolutely suits the story. It helps to know that Zamyatin may have had synesthesia as he gave letters and sounds qualities :-)

 3. "Moon Tiger" by Penelope Lively. A Booker Prize Winner from 1987, this is a superb book. About the life of a woman dying in hospital, the narrative is sometimes written from her point of view, but sometimes from those of the other people in her life. A poignant tale of life, memory, love and loss.

4. "The Novel in the Viola" by Natasha Solomons. This beautifully written second novel from Natasha Solomons, whose first was "Mr Rosenbloom's List", is set in Dorset and tells the story of a young Austrian Jew from a wealthy family who flees her home country shortly before the start of WW2. She goes to work as a maid in a country home and it tells of how she adapts to her new life. A moving story with wonderful descriptions of English country life in the 1930s.

5. "Before I go to Sleep" by SJ Watson. A great pyschological thriller - a "page turner" about a woman suffering from amnesia. She loses her memory again every time she goes to sleep. On the suggestion of a therapist, she starts to keep a journal and finds that all is not what it seems.

6. "Great House" by Nicole Krauss. A neural network of episodes, neither linear nor parallel, but all connected. A book about memories and a desk. Hard to get into but so glad I persisted. Beautifully written.

7. "Chickens Mules and Two Old Fools" by Victoria Twead. A light and lovely read about Victoria and her husband 's move to a little village in the mountains in Andalucia. If you need something that will make you chuckle, as well as green with envy for the life she now leads, this is the book for you!

8. "Brandenburg" by Henry Porter. The second Henry Porter book I read this year, and I will probably go on to read others. This one is a spy thriller set in and around Berlin, shortly before the Wall came down. Great story telling from Porter again.

9. "Never Let me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro. A film of this book was released several months ago. Great story set in a parallel version of England. I don't want to give too much away, so when I am asked what it was about, I say "free range chickens". It's not, but when you've read it, you'll know what I mean! One of these days I'll get around to seeing the film.

10. "The Warsaw Anagrams" by Richard Zimler. I've read all of Zimler's books. This one is set in the Warsaw Ghetto in WW2 and is a murder mystery. I always really enjoy anything this author writes!

Honorable Mentions

Other books I have read recently:

"Homage to Catalonia" by George Orwell

"Life Blood" by Thomas Hoover

"Truth Dare Kill" by Gordon Ferris

"The Hare with Amber Eyes" by Edmund de Waal

"War on the Margins" by Libby Cone

"Guerra" by Jason Webster

"Bloody Foreigners" by Robert Winder. This is a history of immigration in England. Everybody in the UK should read this! A compelling and surprisingly easy read. Very interesting!

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