Books are amazing? They truly are. A world of adventure. An escape. Another side.
I considered doing children's books as I read a lot of them to my daughter. But how do you choose just a handful? So grown up books it is. In no particular order...
1. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
I read this earlier this year, and truly loved it. So much that I missed my stop on the train, twice. Perhaps because I have seen first hand how degrading old age becomes and frustrating and disrespectful, but I loved the escapism of this story. The characters come to life, and at times it is wildly ridiculous but so loveable.
I don't enjoy factual history. I probably learned more in this book than at high school, and although factually incorrect it is so readable. Considering it was written in another language, I didn't find anything was lost in translation.
Without giving too much away, Alan escapes from his 100th birthday in the nursing home, where alcohol is limited (at 100? I wish this wasn't a truth of nursing homes, but it can be) and lets fate take him on an adventure. It is laugh aloud funny in places, with a dry sense of humour.
2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Proving that not all history is bad... I read this as an adult having escaped it at school. I am so glad I missed it at school as I always found dissecting books killed the joy. If you haven't read it yet. Do. Now. Go. Still here?
Ok then... the story of the Finch family. Atticus (best name ever) is a lawyer who is assigned the case of a black man accused of raping a white girl. He is widowed with 2 children, Jem and Scout. It deals with black/white race issues through the eyes of a child, there is a strong theme of people not being what they seem and the other stories and characters running through, such as Boo Radley, Calpurnia and Mrs Dubose provide a diverse and addictive story. The hypocritical view that persecution of Jews is wrong, but black and white shouldn't marry through the innocent filter a child provides is one of my strongest memories of this book. I struggle so much with the concept of treating people as lower citizens, and this book highlights how ridiculous it truly is.
3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Another book on a similar theme. An observation of the racial barriers from both sides in the 1960s - not that long ago. The story is based around Skeeter, a white constant disappointment to her mama, and her desire to tell the story of the black housemaids she knows. Abilene is a strong woman, she raises children for women for whom they are a necessary inconvenience, and yet is not allowed to use the same bathroom as them. I find this so bizarre as my baby is the most precious thing in the world, not where I pee or who I share a bathroom with! The side story of Minny Jackson is told with affection and intimacy, she is a fiery character with a heart of gold. Just avoid her chocolate pie. I cried reading this book, and sadly some people are still treated this way.
4. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
From the writer of another favourite, The Kite Runner, I preferred this, possibly because it is centred around female characters.
It focuses on 2 Afghan women and their lives. The abuse they receive and the ways of life that are so alien to me as a British woman make this so readable. The relationship between the two women, united in a way Hosseini tries to give insight into. It explores the boundaries of women and the expectations of boys, and life under a regime of fear.
5. Terra by Mitch Benn
Very reminiscent of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Terra a human girl is "saved" by Lbbp from the planet Fnnr, and taken there where she has friends and attends school. Benn's writing can be likened to Douglas Adams, but it is very much his own. His love for science fiction is apparent in the detail of this book. Terra would be just as suited to a younger reader as an adult, and that is the magic of a good book. This book is affectionately funny and I truly hope Benn will write another.
Thanks Steph! Next month, Laura is up, and as always, email me if you would like to be a contributor!