The light at the end of the Uni reading is in sight – this will be the second to last. Breath is a reasonably short book at 246 pages, in which the adult Bruce Pike recalls his youth and coming of age, particularly in relation to a cult-like group of surfing friends.
Compared to some other things I’ve read this term, this book was easy to get into. The story begins in 1776 with a young stable boy named Tom Page, whose family has always looked after horses, until he is put in charge of two young elephants. It tells the story of this remarkable relationship, between Tom and his charges.
This will be a very brief review. My schedule has gone a little wonky this week, but I’m trying to get back on track.
First impressions are important, but odd. This book is one that took me a while to get into – the prose is thick with description and lyrical to read, the backstories are complex and intricate. Yet there are other books I got into much more easily which in the end, I liked less. I really enjoyed this.
This is among my favourites of what I’ve read this year so far. I’ve admired Sarah Hall for a long time. As a sixth former applying to University I attended a talk about her life as an author and was both impressed and inspired. When I was first given a Kindle, The Carhullan Army was one of my first purchases. While I think now that I probably missed a lot at the time, I was excited by it, particularly at an age when I had limited exposure to contemporary fiction. Yet for some reason, this book is the first of hers I’ve read since then.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a very well loved book. At the mention of it, many readers I know get a look of happy adoration. Alternatively, they start busily asking questions, desperate to share their love of it.
I picked this up a few years ago, at the time when it was everywhere, but about halfway through I put it down one day and didn’t have the urge to pick it up again, something I’ve mentioned a few times before. It’s possibly worth noting that I had slightly negative connotations of Fowler’s writing before this, remembering my mother’s disappointment in The Jane Austen Book Club years ago. If there’s any opinion I trust on an homage to Austen it’s my mother, who can provide a Jane quote for any occasion.
So all of that notwithstanding – second time around, I have actually finished the book. And while I recognise all of the things which people love in it… I still didn’t fall in love myself.
University reading no 2. This is a book I would have been unlikely to pick up without prompting, but one I really enjoyed.
The new term has started and I am back to university reading. The list is pretty different this time around and I’m excited to jump in. My ‘first book’ experience each term has been surprisingly similar.
Back to University reading lists! I’ve looked forward to this book all term. My previous exposure to Zadie Smith was all before undergrad – I read and likely didn’t comprehend a lot of a school library copy of White Teeth, and bought On Beauty from a charity shop when I was seventeen. My memories of both books are a bit fuzzy, but I’m really keen to revisit them given how much I enjoyed this book.
This thin volume follows a man out in his kayak to scatter his father’s ashes, struck by lightning. Injured and lacking his memory, he tries to survive. While it is a very short book at 95 pages, there is nothing lost in the depth of the writing. This is fantastically written – everything is concentrated into the fewest words possible.
Picking up this book felt intimidating – it’s Jonathan Safran Foer, it’s a big nearly-600 page hardback with that caps-locked font and great big looming subject matters: family life, American Jewishness, Israeli Jewishness, Israel, politics, religion, life.
This novel follows Jacob and Julia Bloch, ‘as domestic crises multiply in the foreground, [while] a global disaster is looming on the horizon’, as the blurb puts it. It follows their family – Jacob’s grandfather Issac, his parents Irv and Deborah, sons Sam, Max and Benjy, his cousin Tamir. For me, the real strength of the book was the characters. The story develops that feeling of both fondness and frustration for them which most of us have to the real people in our lives.