My October read was this Booker Prize nominated novel, We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. I noticed yesterday that it is number 3 in the best selling paperback list published in 'The Times'. In fact quite a few of my recent reads are on there (The Chimp Paradox, The Goldfinch) as well as my November choice Us by David Nicholls. This has lead me to consider how much I am influenced by marketing in my choice of reading: the book promotions and displays in Chester's only bookshop, Waterstones; the reviews in the papers; the radio interviews; and even the appearances at literary festivals: all of this is marketing. And even though I know this, I am still easily influenced. It makes me a bit uncomfortable: how will any new writers get on the shelves if booksellers fill them up with these heavily promoted books, often written by those who have already had a best seller? So I am going to make a deliberate effort to avoid such books in the future, basing more of my reading on recommendations like those on this link up The Year in Books by Laura at Circle of Pine Trees.
I quite enjoyed We Are Completely Beside Ourselves which I chose initially because of the intriguing title, though possibly also because of its position in the Waterstone's display. (I didn't actually buy it from Waterstone's but did my usual library order. It's usually either that or a Kindle purchase for me so I am guilty, I suppose, of contributing to the demise of independent bookshops and their support of new writers.) It was another book which was really promising in the first few third, but then lost pace later on. It's in the first person again, like many books I have read recently, and tells the story of a young woman who is the daughter of psycholgist parents and how the family breaks down because the father chooses to experiment with his own family. There's a major twist which I won't give away, but after that is revealed, I think, the book goes downhill and I felt sometimes that the writer's research was a bit intrusive - more scientific detail than I wanted. Perhaps others like this: I noticed it had a rave review in The Guardian. (Don't read this if you want to discover the twist yourself).
I have started Us, by David Nicholls. It's about the marriage of a couple in their fifties whose son is about to go off to university and so interests me as I'm not so far from that stage. But so far it seems depressingly similar to One Day: the main character is a kind of older version of Dexter, Anyway - will reserve judgement until I read some more. I have also tracked down the book I referred to in my last post and I have ordered it from the library. It is 'Happiness by Design' by Paul Dolan. I'll be reading this too. And now I am off to rake up leaves in the garden, an activity which makes me happy.