Monday, 31 March 2014

What I read in March

Sometimes holidays are fuel for my literary fire. Long flights, lazy days by a pool, all good for ramping up my read count. Ski holidays, however, are not so good. And I've been on a ski holiday this month. I took several recent purchases, envisaging evenings spent relaxing in my mountainside chalet, drinking French red, and roaring my way through a book or three.

However, I spent my trip hitting the slopes hard, overindulging at dinner, staying up late playing raucous board games, and soothing my aching limbs with a bucketload of Deep Heat. All good stuff. But it does mean I've only read 4 books this month. And one was very short.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler (Hardback) 7/10 

This was my book club's March selection and we were lucky enough to be given free copies by Books on the Underground. Reception was mixed but I really enjoyed this book, about a young woman named Rosemary who had a sister the same age as her, but who is now gone. 

This book has a twist and at book club we had lots of conflicting opinions about whether or not it was a better read if you knew the twist in advance. I'm sticking with no, so I won't spoil it here, but am happy to privately if you simply must know!

I really enjoyed this book, more for the writing than the twist. Rosemary is an unreliable narrator, you know it from the start and I kinda like that. Her journey as she delves into her family history will likely have you thinking about your own, though I doubt yours are even remotely as wild as hers.

The Lifeboat - Charlotte Rogan (Paperback) 8/10

I've had this on my wishlist for a while and picked it up cheap online last month. I'm so pleased I did because it had me gripped from the first page.

Grace Winter is sailing to America with her new husband to meet his family for the first time. But when tragedy strikes, the ocean liner sinks, and Grace finds herself adrift at sea in a lifeboat whose inhabitants quickly realise is over capacity.

The story followers the passengers as they form and break bonds, rationalise their decisions and take drastic steps in order to ensure their survival over three weeks in the ocean.

The writing here is so good that I actually found myself shivering or feeling queasy and parched at Rogan's descriptions of survival at sea.

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell (Paperback) 10/10

I don't read a huge amount of YA but I've heard a lot of good things about Rainbow Rowell so I picked this up last weekend for a flight home from Aberdeen.

This is one of those books that you cancel plans for. That you stay up later for. That you eke out a longer lie-in for longer for. And it's my first 10/10 rating in 2014!

Fangirl is about Cath and her twin sister Wren, who are leaving home for college and a new life of dorm rooms and assignments and parties. Cath isn't as outgoing as Wren, and spends most of her time in the fantasy world of the fan-fiction she writes, but she must learn to find her place in the real world too. To make friends, to stretch herself as a writer, and to fall in love for the first time.

Full of cult references that made me grin, and descriptions of boys and kisses that made me ache to be 18 again, I myself am a bona fide Fangirl fangirl. I actually felt distraught to finish this book as I loved the characters so much. I tweeted the author to ask if there'd be a sequel and was over the moon when she replied to tell me that there "Sorrrrt of. Mayyyyybe." Literally. Cannot. Wait.

Dept. of Speculation - Jenny Offill (Hardback) 9/10

While Fangirl was full of joy, Dept. of Speculation was full of sorrow, but like nothing else I've ever read.

It's about a wife, and a husband, and a whole life ahead of them. Then a daughter, then fears, and age, and alternatives.

The structure of the writing here is incredibly poetic, short paragraphs, mixed narrative modes, sentences that I wanted to photograph whilst simultaneously wishing I'd never had to feel the heartache they induced.

Reading this was like watching the film Blue Valentine, it just made me wonder what is the actual point of it all. But ultimately it was beautiful, and quietly hopeful, and I'm going to recommend it to everyone.


  1. And the list of books to read is getting longer and longer and longer and it's something I'm very happy about :)

  2. Ooooh, I love the sound of that third one. x