Sunday, 7 February 2016

The Year in Books: Binge Reading

I'm not sure the Year in Books link up is still there but I wanted to write a books post to share what I've been reading recently.  I've written before about 'The History of the Rain' by Niall Williams, a book I read last summer and then reread right away - I read it quickly as I was desperate to know what happened to the narrator so there was a lot I didn't fully grasp first time as it kind of meanders, back and forward in time and there are so many references to other books.  It's been hard to find something to match it since.

I read and admired 'A God in Ruins' by Kate Atkinson, which also jumps back and forward in time. But I found it a bit disappointing after all the hype and preferred her book 'Life after Life'.  It was obviously very well researched and I should have been interested with all the detailed descriptions of what it was like to be a fighter pilot.  But it felt like homework, improving reading, at times rather than the escapism I like my reading to provide.  'A Place Called Winter' by Patrick Gale, who I usually love, didn't grab me either.  All that bleak landscape and hard work.

I enjoyed 'Number 11' by Jonathan Coe, for its humour and portrayal of modern Britain, particularly the chapters which make fun of celebrity game shows, but, again, it lost pace towards the end.  I also read a book 'One by One in the Darkness' by a writer called  Deirdre Madden who was born and brought up near me in Northern Ireland.  She'd obviously drawn from her own experiences of growing up in the 70s and it was interesting to read about the Troubles from a different perspective.

Last week I indulged in a bit of binge reading, having found one of those elusive books that absorbs me so much I don't want to put it down.  It was passed on to me by a friend who has excellent taste. It's 'The Girl in the Red Coat', a first novel by Kate Hamer.  Reading it reminded me a little of 'Room' by Emma Donoghue as it's about the abduction of a child. Some of the chapters are narrated by the 8 year old child, the others by her mother.  Even though it was a very busy week at work, I ignored marking, housework, family and lost sleep until I got to the end within a couple of days.  Highly recommended and better than the other recent thriller books with 'Girl' in the title (The Girl on the Train' didn't appeal me much.)

Highly recommended.  Now I just need to find another to match it.  Any ideas out there?


  1. I am giving "History of the Rain" another go this week. I am completely fed up with science fiction now and need something different. I agree with you re the Kate Atkinson book, much preferred the "Life after Life". I am not a critic but I don't think "God in Ruins" is anywhere as great. Was "The Girl in Red Coat" not really scary? I have been watching too much old X Files lately and get frightened easily as a result...

  2. Hey Doris,
    I shall bookmark your recommendation. I've just started A God In Ruins having thoroughly enjoyed Life After Life. I enjoyed A Spell Of Winter very much, after being disappointed with his previous novel. I liked the descriptions of landscape and hard work! I loved Girl On A Train, but read it before all the hype set in. It's been made into a film already. My friend watched Room at the cinema, and said it was a very good adaptation of the book. I think Laura at Circle Of Pine Trees has transferred her year in books to a hashtag thingy. I stopped joining in last year on my blog, but will hashtag anything I'm reading via my Instagram account.
    Leanne xx

  3. Good recommendation! Room was another put everything down and read book for me, and I'd love to see the movie. I've been researching books for the WI bookclub and one suggestion that seemed good was 'Our Endless Numbered Days' by Claire Fuller. It's on my list for this year.... after a marathon Hardy read!

  4. Have you read any Peter May books? I am not into crime or thrillers at all, but found his 'lewis trilogy' absolutely gripping, I think partly because I lived in the islands, but even if you have never been there, they are thrilling books. X