It’s that time when I hurriedly finish the last of my books of the year and get ready my final list of books I read over the year. Before that list, here are the ones I’ve managed to get through in this month of trying to hibernate for winter.
Orkney- Amy Sackville
This follows a university lecturer in his late 60s and a former student in her early 20s who he has just married throughout their honeymoon on Orkney. It’s a really unsatisfying read, the characters are fairly irritating and mysterious, you have no sense of relationship between them and there is no real connection with either of them. However, it is beautifully written and hauntingly descriptive of their location, which I think is why I finished it. All round, it was a bit of an odd book.
East of Croydon – Sue Perkins
I love Sue Perkins, I loved reading this account of her travels in Asia making some documentaries for the BBC. Lots of fun and fairly poignant at times. Worth a read.
Padriag O’Tuama- In the Shelter
I find it hard to put into words how brilliant and wonderful I found this book. It warmed my soul, it helped me embrace the Here of our lives, it moved me and helped me long to see God in the everyday ordinary moments of my life. I love the poetry of this man and the beautiful way he writes. Gushing over. Just beautiful nourishment for the soul.
Unsheltered- Barbara Kingsolver
Interesting novel following lives on a small town street in America, alternating chapters set in the 1870’s and in the present day. Really interesting insights into the contrasts between baby boomers and their children and what we all expect out of life. Not earth shatteringly great but pretty good.
Handmaids Tale- Margaret Atwood
I read this again because I wanted to read The Testament and couldn’t remember much of the original story. It’s a fairly horrifically bleak vision of the future where women are used as servants or in the desperate search for babies in an infertile world. I did wonder if it would have been a different novel if it had been written from today’s world and not the relatively emerging feminist world of the 80s. There’s probably a conversation worth having about that if anyone fancies it as I’m not sure I’m coherent enough tonight to articulate my thoughts about this.
Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse- Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys
If you are in church work, if you help out at a church, if you have any leadership role in a church in any capacity you should read this book. It’s really helpful to start the conversation about how to create healthy church environments and safe places where people aren’t coerced into behaving in certain ways. It’s a really important read in thinking about where the power dynamics lie in our churches and to help us all examine how we use the power we have in relationships with each other. A sadly very necessary read.
The Examined Life- Stephen Grosz
A fascinating insight into the conversations this therapist has had with clients over the years. Written to help us be aware that it’s good to think about why we do the things we do or feel the way we feel. A really interesting read.
Today will be different- Maria Semple
I really enjoyed this novel written with in a fairly Dave Eggers Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius style (but with a female protagonist). We follow a fairly messed up person having a messy day in Seattle with her kid in tow. It felt fresh, interesting and unexpected.
Period- Emma Barnett
Brilliant book encouraging us to just talk normally about periods. They happen to pretty much half the population and yet we still talk about them in hushed tones, find it odd to mention when we are struggling because of them and clothe them in an unhelpful aura of mystery. A book that says, let’s stop now and just be normal about this bodily function which affects so much of our lives. They aren’t dirty, taboo, weird and they don’t make women unclean. I’m hoping for a similar book about the menopause to ideally come out in this next decade.
A Sky Painted Gold- Laura Wood
A beautiful book set in Cornwall in the 1920’s as a local girl gets caught up in the dazzling lives of rich young things down from London and their endless series of summer parties. It draws heavily on The Great Gatsby and I Capture the Castle and is deeply beautiful and thoughtful in it’s own right. A fascinating coming of age novel.
Akin- Emma Donoghue
I was looking forward to this as I loved Room but I was fairly underwhelmed by the story of a 80 year old American man heading back to Nice to find his French roots. He goes with his 11 year old great nephew who has come to live with him as his only next of kin. It’s the story of them bickering in France, eventually finding some kind of meaningful relationship with some underlying tension about the man’s past thrown into the mix. I may have missed something profound as I was extremely tired when I finished this but it didn’t really grab me in any way.