Recommended reads

 

Waterstones

Rene is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building. She maintains a carefully constructed persona as someone uncultivated but reliable, in keeping with what she feels a concierge should be. But beneath this facade lies the real Rene: passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives. Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Rene lives with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday. But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever.

If nothing else this books is like eating the most delicious, delectable desert; full of the most tantalising vocabulary.

waterstones

It’s 3 a.m. and Elizabeth Gilbert is sobbing on the bathroom floor. She’s in her thirties, she has a husband, a house, they’re trying for a baby – and she doesn’t want any of it. A bitter divorce and a turbulent love affair later, she emerges battered and bewildered and realises it is time to pursue her own journey in search of three things she has been missing: pleasure, devotion and balance. So she travels to Rome, where she learns Italian from handsome, brown-eyed identical twins and gains twenty-five pounds, an ashram in India, where she finds that enlightenment entails getting up in the middle of the night to scrub the temple floor, and Bali where a toothless medicine man of indeterminate age offers her a new path to peace: simply sit still and smile. And slowly happiness begins to creep up on her.

I have to say, contrary to the bad press about the movie (of which I haven’t seen yet), this book is not about a bored rich housewife who goes off to have a bit of fun travelling. This is a first hand account of woman suffering/battling with depression, her own sense of self, and social pressure, and the writing is absolutely first class. I’ve currently only read through Italy (the first third) and it is compelling and beautiful, as well as uncomfortable and torturous in places. Try it……..

The Seven Days of Peter Crumb

waterstones

Peter Crumb is a man whose life has been overturned by a single, devastating act of violence in his past. Now, in what he intends to be his last week on Earth, he is determined to leave his mark upon humanity – randomly, unjustly, with infinite attention to detail. And Monday means murder.  And boy oh boy this book is ever so mildly disturbing so be warned!

‘Before I knew it, I was stumbling through icy drifts of broken heart’ … In his debut novel, John Michaelson introduces us to outlandish wannabe private eye, Greg Aries. Unexpectedly and improbably recruited by the mysterious Ruby Jewel, Greg finds himself in the thick of a plot which leads from the rains of Plymouth to the heat of the Philippines. Along the way there’s drugs and booze, there’s public transport too, and just a sprinkling of back story. Poor hapless Greg – if you’re to solve the case and stay alive, sooner or later you’ll have to shake hands with the real world. By turns darkly funny, bizarre, and tender, Greg Aries Public Dick is a testament to what we can all achieve if we put our minds to it.

Waterstones:

As the Cambridge University Boat Club prepared for the 2007 Boat Race, Mark de Rond – a Cambridge don and fellow of Darwin College – spent a year living the blood, sweat and tears of the 39 students risking all for a chance to challenge Oxford. “The Last Amateurs” is de Rond’s intense and deeply personal account of freezing early-morning training sessions, booze-fueled crew ‘formals’, the tenderness of camaraderie, the pain of self-doubt, and the tantrums and testosterone of crew members, each set on becoming a Cambridge ‘Blue’.

This is an amazing book, full of academic vernacular, erudite phrasing, ‘coarse’ insights into the male psyche, AND an indepth insight into what these athletes do to get into the Blue boat. Brilliant.

In a sublime story cycle, Kazuo Ishiguro explores ideas of love, music and the passing of time

If Kelsey Newman’s theory about the end of time is true, we are all going to live forever. But for Meg – locked in a dead-end relationship and with a deadline long-gone for a book that she can’t write – this thought fills her with dread. Meg is lost in a labyrinth of her own devising. But could there be an important connection between a wild beast living on Dartmoor, a ship in a bottle, the science of time, a knitting pattern for the shape of the universe and the Cottingley Fairies? Or is her life just one long chain of coincidences?

Michelle Lovric

“The Book of Human Skin” is a breathtaking story of unmitigated villainy, Holy Anorexia, quack medicine, murder, love and a very unusual form of bibliomania.

Steven Hall

Eric Sanderson wakes up in a place he doesn’t recognise, unable to remember who he is. Attacked by a force he cannot see and confronted with memories he cannot ignore, Eric discovers he is being hunted by a psychic predator, a shark. This creature may exist only in his mind, but it soon starts making some very real appearances in his world. Loaded with letters from his past self, each signed ‘With regret and also hope, The First Eric Sanderson’, Eric embarks on a quest to recover his life. A love story; an adventure; a psychological drama – this wild, touching, modern tale is cut through with an understated humour and warmth.

Buzbee celebrates the unique experience of the bookstore – the smell and touch of books, getting lost in the deep canyons of shelves, the silent community of readers – sharing his passion for books and interweaving throughout the whole a fascinating historical account of the bookseller’s trade.

Waterstones.com

Drawn by family. Driven by fear. Haunted by fate. Would knowing the future be a gift or a burden? Or even a curse!? The Whitney women of Salem, Massachusetts are renowned for reading the future in the patterns of lace. But the future doesn’t always bring good news — as Towner Whitney knows all too well. When she was just fifteen her gift sent her whole world crashing to pieces. She predicted — and then witnessed — something so horrific that she vowed never to read lace again, and fled her home and family for good. Salem is a place of ghosts for Towner, and she swore she would never return. Yet family is a powerful tie. So it is that fifteen years later, Towner finds herself back in Salem. Her beloved Great Aunt Eva has suddenly disappeared — and when you’ve lived a life like Eva’s, that could mean real trouble. But Salem is wreathed in sickly shadows and whispered half-memories. It’s fast becoming clear that the ghosts of Towner’s fractured past have not been brought fully into the light. And with them comes the threat of terrifying new disaster. A literary page-turner with depth, narrative power and a story that novels like ‘The Thirteenth Tale’ can only dream of, ‘The Lace Reader’ is a bewitching and tightly plotted read.

Waterstones.com

‘Find what you were looking for, Inspector’? Every day the same question. A different uniform but the same question. They thought Lucia enjoyed being here. They thought that was why she kept coming back. But they were asking the wrong thing. She had found what she was looking for – she had found what she had been sent to discover – but she had found out more besides. The question was what to do about it. The question was whether to do anything at all. In the depths of a sweltering summer, teacher Samuel Szajkowski walks into his school assembly and opens fire. He kills three pupils and a colleague before turning the gun on himself. Lucia May, the young policewoman who is assigned the case, is expected to wrap up things quickly and without fuss. The incident is a tragedy that could not have been predicted and Szajkowski, it seems clear, was a psychopath beyond help. Soon, however, Lucia becomes preoccupied with the question no one else seems to want to ask: what drove a mild-mannered, diffident school teacher to commit such a despicable crime? Piecing together the testimonies of the teachers and children at the school, Lucia discovers an uglier, more complex picture of the months leading up to the shooting. She realises too that she has more in common with Szajkowski than she could have imagined. As the pressure to bury the case builds, she becomes determined to tell the truth about what happened, whatever the consequences.

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