Bookstoker Young Readers
Adelmo Farandola lives by himself as far up a rocky Alpine valley as possible. He hasn’t showered or changed clothes for as long as he can remember and he’ll do anything to avoid people. When a stray dog starts following him, Adelmo reluctantly takes it in and a strange relationship develops as they struggle to survive the brutal winter. Anyone with a soft spot for books set in wild mountains will love Snow, Dog, Foot by Claudio Morandini. A bestseller in Italy, this quirky, darkly comic book about a grumpy loner losing his mind is a surreal little gem.
The Magus by John Fowles has an almost mythical place in my literary memory. I read the 670 page long novel in my mid-twenties over two intense days, skipping meals and hardly sleeping. Such was the power of this mysterious, hypnotising book about a young English teacher on a remote Greek island who comes under the spell of a wealthy recluse. I’ve since been hesitant about re-reading it, fearing that my older, more cynical self will find faults with it and spoil the magic. Now there is fantastic news for all The Magus fans, of which there seems to be many. None other than Sam Mendes will direct a TV-series based on the book. I, for one, can’t wait! If you haven’t read it yet, hurry up!
I first came across On the Road by Jack Kerouac at the tender age of sixteen. Revisiting it recently, it felt like a somewhat different novel, my teen reading self dazzled by impressions and emotion, the older me searching for nuance and (sadly?) with a good deal more cynicism.
It occurred to us that it would be a very interesting experiment to tackle key influential novels as a team: adult reader and keen teen. What difference would there be in your final analyses? If your teen finds you jaded and you think them naive, what fiery debate may ensue!
Here’s a handful of challenging Bookstoker favourites to get you started and throughout 2020, we’ll add more titles for your family’s stimulation and delectation.
Poems from the Edge of Extinction edited by Chris McCabe is a small cross-section of world poetry with a difference; every poem in this collection is written in a language that is endangered, at risk of extinction. It began with the idea to collect poetry written in the world’s dying languages and became an exhibition at the National Poetry Library in 2017, The Endangered Languages Project.
The Five – The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold won the Baille-Gifford prize for non-fiction in November. And what an incredible book this is, despite its miserable subject matter. Thankfully, there’s no revelling in the gruesome murders at all, in fact, this book is all about humanising the victims who’ve been so despicably treated by history. I was glued to the page from the start, impressed by the incredible research Rubenhold has undertaken and moved by the terrible plight of poor women in Victorian times. Highly recommended.
Here’s one to set off a fiery debate around the dinner table. Now that the first storm around #MeToo has settled, This is Pleasure by Mary Gaitskill takes a step back and looks at the fallout. Quin, a successful, charming publisher, has been a huge flirt his entire adult life. While never explicitly abusing his power, Quin has always operated at the very edge of acceptable behaviour (sometimes overstepping it). It has now come back to haunt him. Many of us have had a Quin in our lives. What do we think of this one?