This year I'm trying to actually keep track of the books that I'm reading. I try to do this every year with hand written lists and spreadsheets and I always fail but this year I'm trying to do it by keeping a list on my phone. It seems to be working out better, I guess because I have my phone with me all the time and don't forget to update the list. So far I've gotten through these beauties...
Not That Kind of Girl - I'm a little bit of a fangirl when it comes to Lena Dunham. When Girls came out I felt so happy that finally, someone on TV was talking about all the stupid things that you say and do in your twenties, including how confusing it is and how only about 5% of people I know are actually in the place/career/relationship that they thought they would be. Jessa is also my dream woman and I think that I would pretty much climb mountains to hold her hand but I'm getting off topic. Not That Kind of Girl is pretty good in that it's everything that you would expect Lena to write about. The things that she's been through are interesting and I like the way that she openly talks about how some stories she might hear from someone else, she will steal for herself and feel like it actually happened to her. What's weird was, that by the end, I feel like I've done way more stupid, weird stuff in my life than she has, and that made me feel a little strange.
The Strange Library - Is an amazing short story by Murakami. I love his books and this is no exception. Unlike his previous work, this is beautifully illustrated and not pointlessly so, it really adds to the story. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage also had a page of stickers inside it, which makes me think (hope) that these kinds of things will be a running theme in his new work.
Under The Skin - Okay, so this and the next two books are also by Michael Faber, one of my new favourite-got-to-read-everything-by-him kinds of authors. I've never seen the film Under The Skin although that's how I came across this book. I've heard that they changed the ending in the film and that it doesn't follow the story to the letter, but I don't see why it wouldn't. The main character is multi faceted and despite being a creature from another place (world?) she displays very human qualities. The book kind of plays on the idea of humans being meat for another species and I think that if I wasn't a vegetarian before, this could probably have turned me. It's such an engaging book and made me fall in love with his work.
The Crimson Petal and The White - Another by Faber. Now this is genuinely not a book that I would pick up off the shelf. I don't think that I'm particularly interested in reading about anything in Victorian times but this book is a massive exception. It's very cleverly written from the point of view of many of the main characters (one of my favourite things) and also has the theme of Sugar's own novel running through the story, as well as diaries from another character. Sugar is a fantastic female lead and I genuinely found myself rooting for her the whole way through. I'm always confused when a male author can write a female character that well. I always assume that the words that they think a woman might say will sound contrived and unreal, but that's not the case with this book. One annoying thing was that I read this on my Kindle and like so many other Kindle books, I thought I wasn't at the end because an extract of The Book of Strange New Things was tacked on to the file so I thought I still had a little more of the book to go. I think that's something Kindle should work on. I need to be mentally prepared for an ending!
The Book of Strange New Things - This book came out this year (another by Faber, it's getting old I know) and it's moved in as one of my top favourite books ever. David Mitchell (another of my favourite authors) called it 'maniacally gripping', and it really is. It feels like you're reading about a bleak, sort of dystopian future on a planet called Oasis, but despite sounding full of fantasy, it's full of humanity and portrays how someone would act even if they were on another planet. You assume that someone chosen to go to another planet would have some other worldly qualities, but this book examines the relationship between Peter (on Oasis) and Bea (stuck at home) in a very grounded way. Reading the book almost feels like it's something that could happen. Did I mention that Faber is really good at endings also? This one has a really good one.
Station Eleven - It's about time for a female author, right? This was a Kindle recommendation after I read the previous book and it is SO GOOD. It's another odd, dystopian journey through the eyes of people that have survived the Georgia flu and now live in a kind of post apocalyptic world. The writing flips between before the flu, during and after the flu but never feels too complicated or jarring. Everything flows really well even though you're floating through different times and personalities.
Saga Volume 1 - I've never really been in to graphic novels. This is kind of weird since my whole life revolves around art and illustration and I love beautiful looking books. I guess I never really thought the stories would be anything that I could be interested in. Also, I love really long books that can suck you in for weeks or months at a time so the idea of reading something that can be devoured in an evening never seemed that appealing. However, after the brilliance of Murakami's illustrated library I decided to give Saga a go because I'd head great things. For one, the drawings are so gorgeous and before I read it I flipped through and saw the coolest part spider, part woman and definitely wanted to be her. However, the story really does hold its own. I wasn't bored and I didn't feel like I was reading it just to look at the pictures, I was actually interested in whether this little family would survive in what seems like a beautiful but horrible world. I think it's a good suggestion for anyone that hasn't read any books like this before.
Sex Criminals Volume 1 - I loved this! Another graphic novel. It's super witty and cleverly done. I thought the idea of time stopping when you have an orgasm to be a bit daft to be honest but it's all tongue in cheek and legitimately funny. it's kind of girl meets boy but in a really weird way.
The Miniaturist - I loved the main character in this book. It's a great portrayal of how a young woman can seem weak at first but in a very short time, turn into a strong, brave woman. The idea of the miniaturist is also very interesting and adds a bit of magic to some of the harrowing things that are happening around Nella. It's also a great display of how 17th century Amsterdam felt about sex and marriage.