Wednesday, 6 August 2014

My top longreads from June and July

HELLO ALL YOU SEXY LONGFORM FANS. How've you been? I've been great, I've been reading lots of books, as you can tell from my other posts. But I've also been on quite a few holidays already this summer and travel always means LONGREADS TIME.

Here's what I've read and enjoyed recently...

The American Room - Goodness this was SO INTERESTING. A deep look at what we can understand about American homes and bedrooms based on studying hours of YouTube clips. YouTube, bedrooms, data. I like all those things.

My 14-Hour Search for the End of TGI Friday's Endless Appetizers - Join one writer as she attempts to eat a bajillion mozzarella sticks. In news that will surprise absolutely nobody, I think I could have done better.

Who Wants to Shoot an Elephant? - Morons, that's who. Except this is actually a really brilliant look at the hunting industry as a whole and I learned a few things.

Life, After - In February Miles O'Brien lost his left arm. Here he talks about having to rethink everything.

Miss American Dream - Britney Spears absolutely owns Las Vegas.

Does a More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex? - Are we just too nice to get down and dirty anymore?

How Poor Young Black Men Run from the Police - This is really saddening, on the fear these boys feel every time they leave the house.

Data Doppelgängers and the Uncanny Valley of Personalization - Great insight into all the assumptions the internet makes about you. Been served ads for diets, weddings and IVF on Facebook? This is why.

21 TV Shows That Revolutionized Female Sexuality - Orange is the New Black! The Good Wife! Girls! Buffy! I LOVE TELEVISION.

Damon Lindelof Promises You His New Show Won’t End Like ‘Lost’ - Thank god for that! Seriously though, The Leftovers sounds great and I'm looking forward to watching it.

What If We Admitted to Children That Sex Is Primarily About Pleasure? - Would anyone die? Nope. Would the world be a better place? Probably.

Angus Steakhouse: How does tourist staple continue to thrive in today's gourmet market? - WHO KNOWS?! One writer takes Hawksmoor chef out for dinner.

Why Would A Gay Teenager Commit Hate Crimes Against Herself? - Ten years ago a 17 year old was the victim of numerous hate crimes that she faked. Here she tells her story for the first time.

The Course of Their Lives - Meet the anatomy students on the first day of their medical careers. WARNING: some graphic pics.

Not quite longreads but still really great:

Shelving to Save a Book's Life - Super cute read about how one bookseller feels about her shelving decisions.

The bizarre secret of London’s buried diggers - So you're rich, and you've had a basement pool dug into your home. But how do you get the digger out? You don't, of course, YOU'RE RICH!

What have you been reading? Leave me a comment or come talk to me about these great pieces on Twitter.

Monday, 4 August 2014

What I Read In July

July was a lovely little month which saw me read one book in a day, another I thought I'd hate, and I listened to my first audiobook in years. It was also a little bit of a pricey month and I bought far more than I read which is possibly not a very smart thing to do as I am moving house in 5 weeks. And books are heavy. I never seem to learn this lesson.

One highlight from this month was meeting the fabulous Rainbow Rowell, author of Fangirl and Eleanor & Park, two of my favourite books from this year. My friend Amy and I went to a talk that she did at Waterstones and got to meet her afterwards. She was so lovely and charming and sweet. We may have gotten a bit fangirl-y ourselves!

Also Waterstones author events are a bargain by the way. £3 with a Waterstones card and we got some wine!

Are you curious to see what I thought of my July reads? LET'S GO!

Let's Get Lost - Adi Alsaid (Kindle) 8/10

Let's Get Lost is Adi Alsaid’s debut novel and it is a beautiful, charming tale about the paths we take as we struggle to find out who we are, what we think, and where we're going.

Leila is on the roadtrip of a lifetime, heading to Alaska, desperate to see the Northern Lights. Along the way she meets a host of characters whose lives she will change, and who in turn will change hers.

There's Hudson, a mechanic with a shot at a scholarship that will set him up for life; Bree, a runaway whose not sure why she's still running; Elliot, the guy stuck in the 'friend zone', and Sonia, who is struggling to come to terms with a great loss.

I devoured this book in one go on a sunny afternoon and would strongly recommend you do the same! It'll leave you wondering about the possibilities in the fleeting connections we make, and asking yourself if perhaps we should all spend a little more time getting lost.

Huge thanks to Harlequin UK for the ARC!

Ghostwritten - Isabel Wolff (Paperback) 8/10

This is a book that I don’t think I’d ever have picked up but was chosen by one of my book clubs this month, and I’m so glad it was because I loved it.

Jenni is a ghostwriter, who used to write books for celebs and sportsmen but who now favours the memoirs of those with a more interesting tale to tell. At a wedding  is asked to ‘ghost’ the story of Klara, a grandmother living by the sea who spent her childhood in an internment camp during the Japanese occupation in Java. Klara has never told her story before, but Jenni is anxious that digging up the past will force her to face some ghosts of her own.

I found this book so pleasingly paced, and as the story alternated between Cornwall and Java I raced through it. Although the subject matter is very sad, I hadn't read anything before about how WW2 affected those in the far east and so it was a bit of a history lesson too.

I also felt it was refreshing that much of the story focused on the growing friendship between these two women of very different ages, something I don't think we see explored often enough.

The Interestings - Meg Wolitzer (Kindle) 8/10

‘The Interestings’ are a bunch of self-absorbed kids who meet at Spirit-In-The-Woods summer camp and the book follows them as relationships blossom, they emerge into adulthood, embark on careers, and cope with the tragedies, secrets, and minutiae of life.

I don't want to say too much about what happens, not because there are spoilers to be had, but because I think this is a novel best read with fresh eyes. The Interestings is one of those books that makes you reflect a lot on your past, the choices you’ve made, the things you’ve left unsaid. I had very mixed feelings as I read it because I felt so emotionally involved with the characters.

At times the book is so bleak, which doesn't always feel enjoyable, but I’m certain it has made a lasting impression on me and I’ll think about Jules, Ash and Ethan for a long time to come.

The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton (Audiobook) 7/10

This month I decided to up my reading game with a little foray into the world of audiobooks using the Audible app. My walk to work takes about 40 minutes and listening to a story is the perfect way to pass the time. My first pick was this stunning debut from Jessie Burton.

Back in 1686, we meet young Nella Oortman, who has journeyed to the Amsterdam home she is to share with her new husband Johannes Brandt, a sugar merchant. Upon arrival, he is nowhere to be found but instead the house is occupied by his stern sister Marin, a housemaid Cornelia and manservant Otto. 

When Johannes finally returns he brings with him a miniature model of the house for his new wife. Confused and unimpressed with the gift Nella pushes it to the side of her bedroom, until mysterious packages of dolls and furniture arrive, all seeming to hint at what Nella’s future has in store.

This book is wonderfully dense in both character and setting and I think that listening to the audiobook (brilliantly narrated by Burton herself) really trumped the book as a reading experience. Every morning I felt transported to the time and place and, although I feel I wanted a bit more from the ending, it was a real pleasure to walk to work listening to this every day.

Do you listen audiobooks? I'm really looking forward to picking my next one on my audible subscription, so if you have any recommendations for great listens please let me know. And as always, come and find me on Twitter to chat about what you've been reading!