Cassandra and Judith Edwards are identical twins. Both brilliant and beautiful; one happily engaged to be married, the other severely depressed. This 1960s psychological drama is an intense read that will bring you into the psyche of both protagonists and show the devastating effects of depression not only on the depressed, but also those around. Brace yourself for something much darker and a great deal more profound than the title suggests.
Great pick this year by the Nobel committee. Author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro wins the highest accolade of all, and, unlike last year’s winner Bob Dylan, is excited about it! ‘Flabbergastingly flattering’ was his comment to the press. Of his eight novels, The Remains of the Day, which has become a modern classic, is probably the most enduring. Never Let Me Go, also made a profound impression on me when I read it years ago. I was less keen on his latest novel The Buried Giant, which came out in 2015 and is reviewed here. I would start with Remains of the Day if I were new to Ishiguro. And there are always the filmed versions of that and Never Let Me Go, both worth your while.
Books screaming out to be made into films
I’ve just been through one of the longest good book ‘droughts’ in my reading career. In the end I decided to reach for a classic, sometimes the only way out, and grabbed hold of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. It’s a short book that is more like a portrait of a community than a linear narrative, but within it are sublime little stories, descriptions of people, places and atmosphere that only an old hand like Steinbeck can conjure up.
Close on the heels of reading a good book, watching a great film is up there amongst my absolute favourite things to do. Looking at this autumn’s upcoming releases of film adaptations, then, fills me with joy! There are some delicious ones coming up, just look at this list!
Read too many contemporary duds? Time to read some 20th century American classics
I’m never a slave to the Man Booker Prize but it’s hard to completely ignore it. Apart from all the hullabaloo it creates, or rather, I should say, is created around it by publishers and booksellers, who all sees this as a major selling opportunity, they do sometimes pick some great books. I say sometimes as I’ve just noticed that I have to go back to 2011, the year Julian Barnes won for The Sense of an Ending, to find a winner I really, really liked.
Bookstoker Young Readers
Once in a while I come across a book that I simply cannot stop reading; that I walk around with while I cook or brush my teeth and keep reading late into the night. The North Water is such a book. An absolutely riveting read, an unputdownable book. The novel, set in 1859, tells the story of 27-year-old surgeon Patrick Sumner, who joins an ill-fated whaling expedition to the Artic. It’s an extraordinarily violent and brutal book, so if you mind graphic sex and violence, don’t even think about reading it. If you don’t, you’re in for a nail-biting thriller, which will keep you on your toes to the very last page.
I’m of the conviction that life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy. I read many books for this blog, for example, which I end up ditching after 80 or so pages. I try to give all books a fair chance and read at least 50 pages, preferably a bit more, before I put the book, guilt free, to the side. It has happened to me that a book all of a sudden picks up after a while and turns out to be excellent. I don’t want to miss those.