It seems with the nights drawing in and the romantic flurry of snow appearing all over the WordPress blogosphere, Literary Relish seems to have fallen into half-hearted hibernation. December is barely underway and I’m already falling into a reflective mood. Blame it on getting my Christmas shopping done far too early…
All the decent books I read and didn’t review
Wow I have wasted time on some shoddy books this year but there have been some gems, some which I just didn’t have the time to share with you all. Some I read so long ago I just couldn’t do them justice in a full review so many months apart. Here are just a few:
One of those books that has been on the TBR mountain for ages. I’ve read some thoroughly disappointing dystopian fiction in my time. Margaret Atwood is, however, the absolute Queen of the genre in my humble opinion and the thought that I have another two books in the Maddaddam trilogy to get stuck into is so exciting. The tale of poor Snowman, the last of our kind in the world of the Crakers, will grip you to your very core.
Our lives have been saturated with memories of World War I this year with the centenary (e.g. see Paul Cummins and Tom Piper’s installation at the Tower of London) and it therefore felt like just the right time to read Remarque’s classic. It didn’t disappoint. The visceral descriptions of the trenches, death and destruction are staggering. An important book from a damaged generation.
The Observations; Jane Harris
After reading Harris’ Gillespie and I on holiday in Scotland a while back, I clamoured to read her first, and arguably even more entertaining novel about bolshy housemaid Bessy Buckley and her beautiful yet delirious mistress Arabella. A quirky read that kept me on tenterhooks throughout. Harris’ characters are utterly compelling.
There’s beauty to be found in the simple lives of every single one of us. Tom Kilcourse is a Manchester man born and bred. This memoir charts his life from childhood, life down the pits, to his adult relationships and jobs in management. I enjoyed this slim volume much more than expected, drawn by his own experience of my hometown and frank depictions of his life experiences (rather reminding me of those nice little local history booklets you find in Waterstones).
A Manchester Book Club choice I would never have picked up ordinarily. Jack is just 24 years old and trying to rebuild his life after being released from juvenile prison. His horrific crime means he must hide his identity from everyone he meets. This book was superb and a perfect example of how having a little book club has seriously broadened my horizons. This desperately sad book opened all of our eyes to the grey areas that exist between good and evil.
More of this for 2015 please. I, and I’m sure a fair few of you out there too, always seem to struggle with this one, devoting more time and effort to one area of my life for months on end and then sorely neglecting others. Although I know it’s not realistic to always be perfectly balanced with my effort and time, I vow to be a little more so by the time I turn the big 3 0.
Reading what I want, when I want
This should go without saying but, when you get into blogging and are lucky enough to receive books sometimes in exchange for reviews, you can get stuck in a quagmire of mediocrity since you just can’t bear to say no! Although I am so very lucky to have these opportunities, my own personal TBR is growing at an alarming rate, there is just so much else I want to read. I’ve been a fair bit pickier with what I say ‘yes’ to lately and, by Jove, it’s made for a much happier Relish.
Christmas is the only time of the year that I actually spend time off work and at home. Although I’ve made some sorely needed improvements to the look of the blog over the past four years, I’m starting to feel a little bored with it. Although this might have something to do with blogger’s rut, I do think I’m starting to look rather unpolished. The Christmas holidays will be the perfect time to sparkle myself up like a shiny bauble!
My Favourite Book of 2014
If it weren’t for the beauty of Goodreads, which I’ve finally managed to harness a little better, I truly wouldn’t be able to pinpoint what I’ve actually read this year. Paul Gallico’s The Snowgoose, however, is one I just couldn’t forget. This tale of a lonely lighthouse keeper on the Essex marshes, the relationship he forges with a local girl and an injured bird and his final push to rescue soldiers stranded across the channel (this is set during WWII) is incredibly moving. FYI – the perfect little gift for your loved one this Christmas.