Thursday 31 January 2013

Books Are Amazing... January Edition!

There is a photo that I am very fond of, that if I can ever find I will share. It's of my sister and I on the beach, aged about 11 and 9 respectively. Becky's sunbathing, going a beautiful shade of brown... and I am a fetching shade of pale, huddling under an umbrella wearing a baggy t-shirt, accessorised with geeky glasses and a book. It's not the best photo of me - I look like a massive nerd, to be honest - but the reason I'm so fond of it is because it perfectly represents me as a kid. Nerdy, sun-avoidy and constantly clutching a book. I kind of love young, reading obsessed Sarah. She was such a geek.

Anyway, I LOVE books, and I LOVED doing a post on my favourite books in December. I don't read as much as I used to, and as such I don't TALK about reading as much as I used to, and I've made a pact with myself to bring that back. SO! I've asked some blogger buddies of mine to each do a monthly Book Club post, to talk about their favourite books. First up is Emma from The Stones Inside My Shoes! Take it away, Emma:

I really love dystopias. Set your novel in some sort of post-apocalyptic future and boom – you’ve got me.

What I love about this book is how it switches between past and present, leaving subtle hints here and there about what has happened to the main character (Snowman) and where the odd human-like creatures (Crakers) have come from. It’s essentially a book about humans playing God, and it imagines a world where this has been taken to the extreme. A really good read if you like a book that comments on society, contains a little bit of science fiction and generally creeps you out a bit...

At almost 700 pages long, this book is a pretty hefty read. It tells the life story of Saleem Sinai who is born at the precise moment of India’s independence, but like 1,000 other children born at the stroke of midnight that day, Saleem has magical powers.

The magical elements in this book are so delicately woven in between the historical context you almost forget that you’re reading fiction. This book definitely opened my eyes to colonial and post-colonial India as well – a large part of British history that they tend to leave out of History lessons. A good blend of magic, history, politics and of course, love.

Midnight’s Children recently made its way onto the big screen, but I managed to miss all of the showings in Manchester. Must wait for the DVD release!

I don’t really know where to place this novel. It’s not quite a dystopia but it’s not really science fiction either. Imagine a book where dreams and reality are having a fist fight and you’ve got yourself MM Smith’s Only Forward.

Despite the above statement, this book isn’t difficult to read. It just grabs you and never lets go, making you want to force everyone else to read it just so you can talk about it some more. It’s definitely one of those books where you finish a chapter and then stare into space for a little while afterwards because it’s seriously messing you up.

Sorry, the plot: Your main guy accepts a mission to hunt for a missing man, but there’s more than one world to search for him in. Also, there’s cats. Writers love cats.

Which leads me onto...

This book was recommended to me by a friend after I’d said how much I’d enjoyed Norwegian Wood. In many ways I prefer this book with its talking cats, and just general strangeness alongside Nowegian Wood’s themes of loss and discontent to boot.

Magical, metaphysical and generally a bit weird - but in a good way. Another hefty read, but hey, who doesn’t like a big thick book to get stuck into?

This is an amazing book. It follows the story of an evangelical Baptist who moves his entire family to the Belgian Congo in 1959 to spread the word of God. The chapters alternate between the mother and her three daughters, so you really get the sense of each personal struggle as they try to build a new life in Africa.

Takes a good look at culture, language, religion, family and the political history of the Congo. (Can you tell I like a bit of historical context with my fiction?)

Definitely one of those books that you don’t want to end, and when it does end, you just want to carry it around with you for a while because you’re just. not. done. yet. Call me the crazy book lady...

Bonus seasonal content:

There’s nothing more perfect than being in the same location or experiencing the same season as the book you’re reading. The recent snow will only add to the spell- binding quality of Snow Falling on Cedars.

A young fisherman is found dead off an island in the Pacific Northwest, but this book is more than just another crime novel. A beautifully woven tale of love, war and redemption set in the fifties that will completely captivate you as you wait for the snow to melt outside.

So there we have it – my top 5 books of all time for now. Next up, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (not that one) before the film comes out, as the book is ALWAYS better than the film (except for Atonement because of reasons. Mainly James McAvoy shaped reasons).

A big thank you to Sarah for letting me share my favourite books with her readers. If you would like to recommend a book to me after reading the above, please let me know! Especially if it’s a big chunky one.

Thanks, Emma! Next month, Amy from Wolfwhistle will be talking through some of her favourite books with you all. If you want to get involved for March or ANY of the other months in the year, give me a yell! BOOKS!!


  1. Seems like we have similar tastes - I'm reading Oryx and Crake at the moment and loved The Poisonwood Bible.

    I'm going to add Only Forward to my want list.

    If you haven't come across Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, I'd recommend that.

    I also really enjoyed The Tortilla Curtain by TC Boyle, which might interest you.

    1. Yes I also love Never Let Me Go! We have very similar tastes!

      I'll definitely take a look at The Tortilla Curtain then. Thanks for the recommendation :)

  2. Haha, we would have been friends as kiddies, I was just the same! I used to trail around the supermarket with my nose in a book (walking into trolleys, obviously) and in department stores I would just find a comfortable chair, plinth, or shelf and stay there until my mum had finished shopping.

  3. Fantastic list - I love reading about other people's reading lists - I definitely want to read Midnight's Children this year, it sounds brilliant and I've never read any of Salman Rushdie's work.

    1. As do I! Go for it, although I admittedly did find some sections a bit tough to get through. Worth it in the end as it's such a great book.

  4. I love Midnight's Children, I really want to see the film :)
    Daniella x

  5. I'm always up for things involving books if you want a guest post :)

  6. I love this idea - much as I love my Kindle, I do miss wandering around Waterstones and buying totally random books, all recommendations are very gratefully received! Looking forward to seeing these each month!

  7. Ooh, ooh, I'm always up for talking about books!

  8. I LOVE Margaret Atwood, I can't wait for my copy of Oryx and Crake to arrive!

    Maria xxx

    1. It's SO good. The Year of the Flood is a sequel/prequel and there's a 3rd book planned! Can't wait. x

  9. I love this idea! Its so good!

  10. Great posts. I loved Midnight's Children. I'd like to do one of these posts if you're still looking for people. xx

  11. I love this post - great choices! Kafka on the Shore is one of my all-time favourites, so much love for Murakami!

    If you're still looking for people to get involved for other months I'd absolutely love to! :)

  12. Snow falling on cedars sounds like an amazing read!


  13. I love Oryx and Crake, one of my favourite books and Margaret Atwood is my all time favourite author. Dystopian novels are awesome :) any others you'd recommend?
    Belle x


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