Never-Ending Summer Reading
Posted on December 24th, 2015
I have said it before. The best thing about summer is reading… Worn paperbacks, pages filled with sand, or even, falling apart in the sun. Lolling in a pool with your book propped on the side. Or placed over your face as a customised hat. Summer = reading for sure.
This year, I determined to take Smart Quill to some far off places – looking for new writers, different voices, and researching cultural narratives. I have had a rather perpetual summer as a result, and an excellent excuse to catch up “must-reads” (when I am not editing, of course).
So here is what I read, and here is what I thought:
1. Euphoria by Lily King – two words: read it. It’s short, and perfect. Dual male and female strands, based obliquely on the rather incredible story of lauded female anthropologist Margaret Mead.
2. Moby Dick by Herman Melville – oh dear. I just could not lose myself in this. The prose is so gargantuan, it really only served to alienate me. At the risk of sounding like a philistine in the face of great literature, no thanks.
3. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – Gregory certainly knows how to spin a tale. I am not sure how much of this I believed was “autobiography”, but it’s an enjoyable and nuanced whirlwind through Bombay nonetheless.
4. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan – this won the Book Prize in 2014. But honestly, I found it a little facile. Flanagan is the most incredible writer and this is beautiful in parts… But not his best.
5. The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad – it’s a powerful insight into Afghanistan, but rather thin, and political agenda of the narrator was heavy. I’d rather have seen more facts, more anecdotes, in order to build the story.
6. The Martian by Andy Weir – I couldn’t put it down! The light tone contrasts exactly with the enormity of the plot, and the technical detail is WOW.
7. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – the Pulitzer Prize winner for 2015. And rightly so. This is magnificent, with a deft narrative balance between a girl in France and a boy in Germany during WWII.