Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Year in Books: April


So linking up rather late again with Laura at Circle of Pine Trees with my reading plans for the April and a review of my March reads.  I'm really enjoying this link up as reading about others' choices gives me new ideas.

I read quite a few books in March because I wasn't sleeping that well at the beginning of the month.  My latest way of dealing with occasional insomnia is to not worry about it and instead get up and read until I feel sleepy again.  Which is sometimes never, until I fall asleep early the next evening in front of the telly.  So I finished 'Expo 58' by Jonathan Coe and then 'Stoner' by John Williams.  Both books written by men and both featuring men with rather unhappy, disappointing lives.  'Expo 58' wasn't anywhere near as good as Jonathan Coe's other books with an unconvincing spy plot.  I liked 'Stoner' more - stayed up til 5am one night to finish it, but found it terribly depressing.  The central character supposedly falls in love with literature when he discovers it as a subsidiary subject on his agriculture course.  Again, wasn't convinced but there was something about the character and the writing style that drew me in.

I also read two other books which I enjoyed more: 'The Snow Child' by Eowen Ivey and 'The Shock of the Fall' by Nathan Filer.  I was prompted to read these by recommendations from friends and also because others on The Year in Books have been reading them.  'The Snow Child' was beautifully written with stunning descriptions of Alaska.  It also appealed because I know exactly how it feels to long for a child like the couple in the novel as it took us years of misery and four IVF attempts before we succeeded in having our daughter.   The ending was telegraphed a little, but still the kind of book I buried myself in until I finished it.  (Perhaps I do this too much, living in the worlds created in my head rather than engaging in the real world with the real people around me.)

'The Shock of the Fall' was also unputdownable.  I finished it in the airport when we were travelling back from Rome on Sunday and probably looked very odd as I couldn't stop myself from crying. Very sad (but not depressing),  and this time a completely convincing character.   I liked the unusual way the story was structured and told so that you had work hard to follow the plot.  Glad I actually bought a real copy as I hate not being able to flick back to reread bits when using the Kindle.  It reminded me of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog' and the author reveals in an interview at the end of the book that he was also influenced by Iain Banks' 'The Wasp Factory:'  both these books have troubled, teenage narrators.   'The Snow Child' and 'The Shock of the Fall' are both contenders for my all time top 20 reads, which you can check out here and here.

In April I am going to read some of the books nominated for the Carnegie Medal for children's books this year.  We shadow the shortlisted  books every year in school, getting students to read and briefly review them.  I've already read 'Blood Family' by Anne Fine which was excellent and the student in year 10 who read it agreed.  It's not suitable for younger readers as it has rather adult themes - domestic abuse and alcoholism.  I'm going to try Susan Cooper's 'Ghost Hawk' next, hoping it's a more escapist read.


I also hope to read 'The Universe versus Alex Wood' by Gavin Extence which is my book club choice.  Sounds more like my kind of book than last month's which I didn't finish, '59 Seconds, Change your Life'.  Teenager reading over my shoulder on the plane said, 'What's the point in reading that?'.  Exactly - too many statistics and very dull.

8 comments:

  1. You did really well in March. I loved 'Stoner', even if it is rather depressing. And after seeing so many positive things about both 'The Snow Child' and 'After the Fall' though The Year in Books, I'm going to put both on my 'to read list'. But I definitely need to stop getting distracted by Facebook, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do keep thinking about Stoner even though I didn't really enjoy it. Strange kind of book.

      Delete
  2. I have just finished the Shock of the Fall and enjoyed it, too. I found the character totally believable but I have no personal experience with individuals suffering from schizophrenia and don't know much about the condition. I read the Snow Child last year and loved it, too. The characters took a while to grow on me but in the end, I felt I was part of the family. I was intrigued by all the hand sewing in the book! I haven't read any of the other books you mention but will bookmark them and maybe read them later, although I have a dissertation to write and might not find much time to read until the end of June. I listen to audio books when sleep won't find me. Cx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Am going to try audiobooks, Christina. That way I won't wake up the rest of the house by getting up in the middle of the night. There seems to be a scheme where you can downlaod for free from the library too so I'll be investigating that. Thanks for the tip.

      Delete
  3. I've just started reading The Shock of the Fall, as I've heard so many positive things about it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello - just checked out your blog and found some interesting books. Thanks!

      Delete
  4. The Shock of the Fall does sound amazing, it's definitely on my to-read list!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Shock of the Fall is on my May reading list - lovely to hear about your books this month. I know what you mean about escaping in to a book, and can quite often look up and realise I've lost a whole night to reading!

    ReplyDelete