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OFF THE SHELF
It’s impossible to hone your skills as a writer or editor or proofreader without first being a keen reader. Being a YA author, I still read a lot of teenage fiction and also enjoy children’s fiction for the same reason…and that’s despite having left that phase of my own life a long, long time ago! But the key is to try a lot of different genres. You might surprise yourself. Belonging to a book club is a great way to force yourself to read outside of your own tastes.
So here is my list of what I have been reading recently…
Stoner by John Williams. A big story for what is essentially a small tale. William Stoner is just an ordinary man who left his family’s farm to study agriculture before falling in love with literature and pursuing an academic career. His life is full of small disappointments, as are many lives, and its ups and downs are beautifully told right through to the moment of his death. Read the book just for the ending alone….for how someone can write about a man’s last moments without having died and returned himself is beyond me. Incredible. Wonderful.
Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin & Catherine Johnson. This is an absolutely fascinating study of animal behaviour through the lens of autism.
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. If you want an introduction to Taoism, then who better to guide you through it than Winnie the Pooh and his friends? Marvellously mindful.
Campari for Breakfast by Sara Crowe. If you loved Adrian Mole, then you are going to adore Campari for Breakfast. Sue Bowl, the teenage protagonist, is the female Adrian Mole: a would-be writer, full of angst after the death of her mother and her father’s up-coming nuptials to gold-gigging Ivanna. Trying to find her place in this new world, Sue moves in with her elderly Aunt Coral to a crumbling mansion populated with misfits: the Nanas, the admirals, a Japanese businessman, the odd ghostly tramp…I defy you not to fall in love with this book! Highly recommended.
Dune by Frank Herbert…an epic adventure, set on the planet of Arrakis, and a story which has as much relevance today as it did back in the mid-sixties when it was first published. If you read just one science fiction novel in your life, make it this one!
In at the Deep End by Kate Davies. A sexually explicit novel detailing the love life of a twenty-something Londoner as she swaps men for women and discovers what she’s been missing!
Off the Shelf for August is Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center. Checkout the book review here!
Off The Shelf for April is CS Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters: Letters from a Senior to a Junior Devil. Checkout the book review here!
A Few More Books Taken Off The Shelf This Year….
Lanny by Max Porter…lyrical, wonderful, magical. The tale of a village and its inhabitants, dead and alive. I am so now a Max Porter fan!
Snap by Belinda Bauer…a thrilling crime novel set in the West Country following the lives of the Bright children, who have been left on the side of the M5 by their mother. When her body is found, and their father disappears, it is up to the eldest, Jack, to keep his broken family together. This he does largely by honing his skills as a burglar, but he also leads the police to uncover who murdered his mother three years previously. Absolutely gripping!
Blind by Rachel DeWoskin…a coming of age YA novel, where the protagonist is dealing with the suicide of a classmate, first loves and most importantly, her own blindness after a fireworks accident. A great read.
Someone We Know by Shari Lapena. A good easy whodunnit that will make you look at your neighbours a little more closely!
Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes. American YA…championing the non-mainstream teen.
Awakening by Sharon Bolton…hate snakes? Love a good mystery? Then be prepared to be thrilled and creeped out in equal measure. This one will keep you guessing and feeling on edge the whole way through. Recommended.
Stand By Me by Wendell Berry….a wonderful collection of stories from Port William: a small farming community in Kentucky, tracing the intertwined lives of those who lived there from 1888 to 1981. By the time you finish, you’ll feel that you live there too. Wonderful.
The Sisterhood by Emily Barr…a dark take of love and loss and family secrets, which is always a good combo if you ask me!
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler…another family drama, though one with a bit of a twist!
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres…an epic tale of a small Greek island and its inhabitants during the Second World War. Highly recommended!