Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Recent Reads #7

I used to think that the worst thing about reading a really good book was the feeling you got when it ended: the paradoxical uncertainty of joy and spirit and mourning. Now I'm not so sure. I began the month reading a beautiful novel, such that the ones I read subsequently just didn't match up to and I was left feeling, first, frustrated, then disappointed, and then just sad. It wasn't that the books I'd read were completely dire, but neither were anything special, only worsened by the fact they lay in the shadows of February, and maybe 2016's, favourite book. 

The Two of Us - Andy Jones
I'm hesitant about a book recommendation: I love getting new ideas and suggestions, but I also worry that other people just like rubbish books...and I do not want to be sucked into that. Thankfully, Olivia is a trusted books recommender - after seeing her rave about The Two of Us on her blog, I decided that if anyone liked a book that much, I'd better read it. I was so glad I did. Witty, emotional, irresistible: I was gripped from start to finish, resentful when my trained pulled into London Victoria and I had to put it down for a couple of hours to go to a lecture. Despite the unrealistically hipster names, Fisher and Ivy are some of the most well developed and honest characters I've ever met, to the point where I struggled to remember that they're not real people. It's no easy ride for either of them: lust and a sticky situation rapidly obligates commitment, maturity and love. They find themselves in one of those situations which brings a lump to your throat, because you have absolutely no idea what you'd do if you were them - when both reasonable options are so hard. Compelling love story aside, the book has an excellent sub-plot. Fisher's best friend has Huntington's, and we follow his challenging relationship with Ivy alongside his unconditional friendship with El and the distress of seeing your best friend gradually deteriorate into a body you barely recognise. I adored this book. Every tear was followed by a giggle, and the other way round. Prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster, and avoid reading on the commuter train, or you'll end up a snotty emotional mess, as I was, next to the glamorous Italian lady who slowly moves her sushi away from your mascara drenched tissue. Enjoy - I know you will. 
5 / 5

The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen
Token free Kindle book alert! This one's a bit of a cheat actually, because I never finished it. First, I didn't finish it because the Kindle version was corrupt and, as I made my way through the book, started replacing pages with big blurs of unreadable text. Second, I could have got in touch with Amazon, requesting a refund/a hard copy/a fixed e-book but I just didn't because I wasn't fussed about reading the rest of it. The weird thing about a Kindle book is that you don't really get a sense of how long it is - sure, they tell you roughly how long it should take to read it, but that changes as it adjusts to how quickly/slowly you read. This book must be a monster because after so many train journeys spent reading it, I still hadn't exceed the 20% of the way through the book mark. So, from what I do know about the book, is that it begins with a couple who we assume are quite elderly, and I imagined as hoarders and loners. We follow their journey to visit their son, a a college professor, and the rest of what I read was about his life: his unstable jobs, his relationships with students and his uncertain place within his family, his romances and his city. The thing was, none of the characters were likeable; they were odd, but not in an intriguing way, just an unrelatable one. The plot was slow and I just constantly felt miles away from any sort of story development, let alone a climax. I'd be really interested to hear from anyone who has actually finished this book - let me know if it's worth pursuing! 
1 / 5

The Last Girl - Joe Hart
I finished this book with mixed feelings. It was a really good idea executed somewhat strangely, I felt, and I'm not sure whether or not it worked. I was attracted to it because of its Margaret Atwood-esque plotline: genetic mutation which stops baby girls being born, the last remaining girls live in an institution totally separate from the rest of the world, and are used for experimentation. Sounds a bit like The Handmaid's Tale, right? So it was a cool idea - and I was interested to see where the author took it. I wasn't totally impressed: I felt like some of the twists weren't really twists and you saw them coming anyway; the protagonist was a bit undeveloped at the beginning and her inclinations and capabilities weren't really explained. The transgression seemed to happen, initially, a bit too easily. The next section d r a g g e d, I thought, and I was just waiting for there to be some sort of ending or solution. It came, and it was alright, but all just very cliche - and then I was annoyed with the ending. As I understand, it's a trilogy and I'm yet undecided whether I'll read the next book. It was one of those novels that isn't bad enough to categorically stop reading and swear you'll never touch again, but if I'd not been reading it on the train, with very little else to do, I know know whether I'd have continued with it. Good in theory, questionable in practice. 
2.5 / 5


  1. Jonathan Franzen's books are everything you have described - slow plot, little story development, with little more than a hump for a climax. However, the beauty of his writing lies in his character development. His characters are not usually likeable, but they are incredibly realistic (as my best friend says - more real than real) and they remind us that people are never what they seem. Franzen's a bit of a niche though so it's really down to personal preference (but no his books are monsters).

    1. I'm so glad you feel this way too - I was worried it would just be me. I don't feel like I really got into The Corrections enough to get to know, and appreciate the characters fully. Any recommendations for any of his books with excellent characters that I can try and struggle through?

  2. just catching up on your latest posts and i am SO GLAD you loved 'The Two of Us'- isn't it just the best?

    same taste in books and in men... were we separated at birth?


    1. i L O V E D it. I'm waiting for someone to turn it into a film that's like One Day, but better.

      I think we were... X


© THE SLANT | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig