I’d forgotten how good John Steinbeck’s classic Of Mice and Men really is. Just re-read it after many years and what a gem of a little story! In a mere 120 pages, Steinbeck dives deep into themes such as loneliness, dreams and loyalty while portraying the nomadic lives of ranch hands in America during the Great Depression. To top it off are the most exquisite descriptions of landscapes and farm life.
How would you react if your partner one day walked out on you? In Elena Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment Olga’s husband Mario announces, out of the blue, while clearing the table that he wants to leave her. Overwhelmed by grief, confusion and anger, Olga descends into madness in this raw, brutally honest story. The Days of Abandonment is explosive stuff – as we have come to expect from Ferrante – and all the better for it.
A good literary prize brings to light books that you’ve not necessarily heard of before. This year’s Man Booker Prize longlist is an eminent example, pulling together a selection of 13 books from all corners of the world: Jamaica, New Zealand, India, the US, Ireland, Nigeria and the UK.
I’ve been driving my family mad with trivia from this adorable best-selling book on the unglamorous subject of the digestive system. Did you know, for instance, that you have up to two kilos worth of micro-organisms living in your gut? Or that saliva is filtered blood? Or that plants make their seeds slightly poisonous in the hope that we won’t eat them. Nerdy stuff, I know, but quite fun nevertheless!
Reviews of the most anticipated book of the decade, Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, the unpublished chronological sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, have been trickling in over the past few days in the lead up to its publication on the 14th July. There seems to be surprises in the book, which was actually written before the 1960s classic, but never published. Apparently, Atticus Finch, the defence lawyer, champion of suppressed blacks and the moral beacon of To Kill a Mockingbird, shows a darker side as a racist!
I’ve just started F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, a novel set amongst the pine trees and turquoise waters of the Riviera in the 1920’s, and realised how a summery summer read can make summer even better. To get you into the mood, the Guardian has made a list of books that will bring you right into the spirit of summer.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the summer holidays to begin. They’re just around the corner, so perhaps it’s time to start thinking about which books to read? We have loads of ideas on Bookstoker from light beach reads about Russian oligarchs to non-fiction books about death and poo (!). The blue links are to Bookstoker’s full reviews or snap judgements while the green links are to outside reviews.
While piling up summer reading for yourself, make sure you throw in a few books for your kids too. Summer is the time to make them love reading as much as you do, while there’s no homework and eons of time. I’ve been trawling the internet for good children’s summer reading lists and here’s what I found.
Have a look at this series of photos from the most beautiful bookshops in the world. El Ateneo bookshop in Buenos Aires, a converted theatre, looks pretty impressive, although Atlantis Books in Santorini (below) is still my all time favourite.
Diving into a long family epic is one of my favourite literary luxuries. Days and days of reading until you feel you’ve almost become ‘part of’ the family. The Lives of Others is just this kind of book. What’s more, it sucks you in from the very first page in one of the most harrowing prologues I’ve come across. Intrigue, double lives, betrayals, gossip, shocking inequality, illicit love affairs, politics, Mukherjee’s The Lives of Others has it all.