Thursday, 25 June 2015

Recent Reads #1

My pledge to read a book a week during the summer has, thus far, been going pretty well. I finished my first book in 48 hours, the second in the next week, but the third was really slow... I've started off my summer primarily with Historical Fiction. Realising that my knowledge of history does not extend beyond the year 9 school syllabus (the Tudors, the Romans and WWI), I wanted to improve my knowledge whilst reading a good book. Since I mostly read books based on recommendation, I thought I'd do a little round up of what I've been reading, what I enjoyed...and what I didn't! 

The Innocent - Ian McEwan

He's not everyone's cup of tea, but I like Ian McEwan, and read this novel following a recommendation from my Mum and a promise that I find out something about the Cold War. Set in 1955 Berlin, The Innocent follows the story of Leonard, an engineer employed by the Americans to build the signals used to tap the Russians' conversations. Quickly, this responsibility becomes secondary, to both Leonard and the reader, as he falls in love with a German woman, Maria. The Innocent develops from a mere war story, to a tale of intensity, passion, betrayal and terror. I loved this book: the characters were honest and believable, the plot (and the twist) exacerbated by the harsh setting, and I was left feeling exhausted, like I'd been on a real emotional journey with Leonard. I'd definitely recommend The Innocent; since it's so short, it's perfect for a long train journey or a couple evenings before bed, a real page turner. 
4 / 5

Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe - Bill Bryson

Another recommendation from my Mum, I read this in preparation for my Italian adventure in few weeks. Though arguably a little outdated now (written in 1991), this 'travelogue' follows Bryson's tour of Europe, visiting 14 countries. I always love reading other people's accounts of cities I've been to, just to see how their experience relates to mine. Bryson's accounts are solely his own: they reflect his personal experiences, and I enjoyed how they focused on precisely what he did and saw, rather than becoming a travel guide, and telling me facts about each place he visited. This was a great summer read for me, and got me all excited about going on holiday (except maybe to Florence...). The only thing is that I wish I'd picked it up years ago, since I'm sure Bryson's experience of Europe 23 years ago may be quite different to mine this summer. Overall, an easy, funny read, and something a bit different!
3.5 / 5

All The Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

This was slow. I started reading it a little while ago, got half way through, and just stopped because I was bored. I liked the idea, paralleling the stories of a blind, French girl and a German boy at a Nazi military school whose paths cross during the Second World War. Seeing the war through the perspective of a girl who couldn't see was really interesting, and there was some beautifully sensory writing. However, I just couldn't get into the German boy's story, and found myself wanting to flick through those sections to return to Marie-Laure's tale. There was too much chopping and changing between the stories to really become absorbed by a particular character or event, and it all just felt a bit half-hearted. Ultimately, it wasn't a bad story, nor was it badly written, it just didn't feel solid or finished enough for me. There was real potential, and that's why I forced myself to finish it, but I don't think it quite worked. 
2.5 / 5 

Please let me know what you've been reading, and if you have any recommendations for me! 



  1. It looks you're going pretty well with your pledge this summer, yohooo! I'm definitively going to add innocent to my to-read-list. Thank you!

    Mafer, Concientizando x

  2. Thanks Mafer! Unfortuantely the new series of Orange is the New Black has slowed down my bedtime reading...Trying to get back on track though! Would love to hear what you think of The Innocent :) x


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