Is it just me, or are there SO MANY great looking books out right now?! The literary world seems to be booming this Autumn and it’s totally fantastic for all of us book worms. My Amazon basket (yes, I’m sorry, I sold my soul to the devil) is absolutely full of new titles waiting to be ordered and my pile of ‘to read’ books gets longer and longer every day. I decided share a taster of the books that are on my list in a blog post here to help me to organise my thoughts as well as give some reading inspiration to you if you are looking around for something new to read. There is quite a mixture here – fiction and non-fiction, old and new – so I hope you will find something that sparks your interest as it has mine!
Men Without Women – Haruki Murakami
I am huge fan of Murakami’s dark, twisted, fantasy style of writing so I was really excited to read this new release of his. Having just finished it, I can say that it definitely lived up to its expectations – it is a masterpiece. This is a small collection of short stories, all about men who, for many different and interesting reasons, do not have women in their lives; one is a widower, another is a house-bound invalid, there’s even a character who has gone through some kind of metamorphosis and woken up completely alone and in a man’s body (could that be any more Murakami?!). Murakami has a very unique way of storytelling; the urges and curiosity of his characters propel the narrative forward and involve us as readers. Sometimes he even tells stories within his stories, creating this kind of wonderful meta which feels so addictive – once you begin a new story, it really is hard to stop. It’s interesting too, how the book progresses darker and darker and how the stories connect to each other and evolve. It’s gritty and sexual and weird and I love it.
Still Life – Louise Penny
I spent a lot of time in Canada this summer where everyone was talking about Louise Penny. I’m not sure why, but I avoided her work for a long time… it was probably due to the very fact that she seemed to be so popular and I usually don’t tend to get on with fashionable trends. However, I finally decided to hop on board of this hot new Canadian author’s train, and I’m glad I did because I’ve just finished the first novel in her Inspector Gamache series and loved it! This is a story about the lovable and endearing Chief Inspector Gamache, always to be found in his tweed coat and hat and with a fondness for brioche, and his investigative team from Montreal, who find themselves in the tiny Quebecois village of Three Pines, inhabited by the likes of artists and poets, after a mysterious murder has occurred. If you like crime fiction, you will love this book, but even if, like me, you don’t normally go for this genre, I highly recommend this novel for its adorable characters, heartwarming sentimentality and cosy feeling. It’s a real page turner, perfect for Autumn, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series!
Indivisible By Four – Arnold Steinhardt
Although, as I am a musician (and particularly a violinist with a passion for string quartet playing), this book has a true relevance to me, I think it could be an interesting read for anyone who likes auto-biographical accounts of special historical lives. Written by the first violinist of the infamous Guarneri Quartet, it tells the story of these four players, their backgrounds, how they came to be together and what playing in this hugely successful string quartet for so many years was really like. Reading this book is like getting the scoop from the inside, and it gives such a wonderful insight into these characters and what they got up to. Steinhardt really was an incredibly gifted writer, as well as an amazing musician, and the humour and joy with which he recounts his stories of his quartet life bring such charm to his book; it doesn’t feel at all stale or heavy-going, as these kinds of books often do. I’m only a chapter or two into this book but I highly recommend it.
The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne
This is the new release from this author, probably most famous for his book, ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas’, and it promises to be just as heart-wrenching and emotional. What I know about it so far is that it is set in post-war Ireland, where homosexuality is still illegal and is about a man who struggles with his identity in this society. What I also know about this book is that people have called it life-changing, the BEST book they have EVER read, the most deeply meaningful read of their lives and the best book of 2017. I don’t know if it’s because of my Irish connection that I felt drawn to this book, or the fact that it has been compared to Angela’s Ashes, which is a book that I absolutely loved, but I feel totally compelled to read this book this Autumn. I’m ready for some powerful writing, tears of laughter and joy and that adrenaline that a great book gives you.
No Is Not Enough – Naomi Klein
In my last blog post, I asked lots of important questions about what we should be doing in the world of today, full of social discrimination and fake facts, with the privilege that we were given at birth – you can read it here. These were questions that I really don’t have any answers to – I just don’t know what to do in the face of social austerity and it’s frightening. But my lovely aunt recommended to me that I try reading Naomi Klein, and immediately I thought, if anyone has answers to these kinds of questions, it must be her! I haven’t read any of Klein’s work before but I have heard her speak in interviews and I think she offers some great insights into what is going on in politics, the terrible social problems of today and how we can treat them and act in ways that could improve the state of current affairs. Klein is all about putting ideas into action and this is exactly what I want to get on board with, and I think the first step to this is educating ourselves which is why I believe it is extremely important to read as much as possible by people who really get it.