I read a lot of books in January! I was mainly recuperating and reading and hot tea became my tonic of choice. Below are mini-reviews of the 5 books I finished that month. Let me know what you think if you’d read them too…
Want to join a super awesome online book club? Beth’s Book Club reads one book a month from a diverse range of genres. We then get to together online to discuss our thoughts. The best bit? You can take part from the sofa in your pyjamas.Join free here.
A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman
A Man Called Ove is one of the loveliest, most heart-warming and heart-tugging books I’ve ever read. Ove is a grumpy man who hates cats, incessant chatter and mistrusts anyone who buys the ‘wrong’ make of car. An anachronist; you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s twenty years more senior than he is. When a young, chirpy family move into his neighbourhood, where he carries out a daily watch to ensure nobody has left their bike unchained or overstayed their welcome in the visitor parking, Ove is not impressed.
The book is a slow burner, each chapter slowly building upon present day and Ove’s past. It’s incredibly dry, seriously funny and altogether quite lovely whilst tackling some very heavy themes including child loss, disability and death.
This was our Book Club January pick and it was just brilliant. Almost everybody loved it and the discussion was so lively. The conclusion? We all adored Ove and the book is a must read!
My Sister The Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite
This novella has been widely commended, made it’s way on to plenty of ‘must read’ lists whilst also being nominated for X. So I’m probably going to be wildly unpopular when I say I thought it was rubbish.
Maybe I just didn’t ‘get it’. The novella is a short exploration of a relationship between two sisters, one of whom has an awkward habit of offing her boyfriends. Oops. I just didn’t really see what their was to gain from it. Aside from a brief look into some complex familial relations, there wasn’t much substance. It’s not a who dunnit, nor a suspense novel. Simply a narrative that quickly became repetitive.
The Flat Share, Beth O’Leary
O’Leary’s The Flat Share is now one of my favourite books! Oh it’s so good. Eccentric, chaotic Tiffy agrees to share a bed with a total stranger in a bid for cheap London rent. Leon works nights so in theory, they’ll never even meet. They begin communicating by leaving one another post it notes and leftovers. What follows is a seriously warm and funny book with the rare charm of two protagonists that you’re genuinely rooting for.
This isn’t your average light chick-lit. The book tackles some really heavy issues with an abusive, coercive relationship running through it’s core. The way O’Leary manages to write sensitively about this without losing the charisma of the novel is commendable.
I can’t wait to read more by her and I hope Tiffy and Leon make a film debut one day! Done well, it would be joyous.
The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides
I had really high hopes for The Silent Patient. It’s been heralded as a really gripping thriller with a lot of praise for the ‘big twist’. We got off to a bad start. I almost instantly hated the narrative voice of lead character Theo, a psychotherapist with a turbulent childhood and an obsession with sectioned murderer, Alice. I found him smarmy, untrustworthy and obviously operating on an ulterior motive right from the start.
Much of the action is centred within a psychiatric unit, where acclaimed artist Alice is seeing out her indefinite sentence after shooting her husband. She hasn’t spoken a word since it happened. Theo thinks he will be the one to make her tell her story.
The twist is there but it’s more of a fizzle than an impressive bang. I sort of eye rolled and thought “right, well that was a bit of a waste of time.” Perhaps I’m a harsh critic but I thought the sign-posting throughout the novel was too obvious and I got bored of such an ego-centric protagonist.
The only real praise I can give is that I read it very quickly. It’s an easy read but in a heavily saturated genre full of stunning thrillers, I don’t see what the fuss is about here.
Normal People, Sally Rooney
I really wanted to like Normal People. Set in Ireland, it follows the lives of a few teenagers from sixth form through to life at Trinity College, Dublin. Beyond this, there isn’t much in the way of a plot. In fact, there’s a lot of overly pretentious prose that doesn’t really seem to lead anywhere, and I found myself feeling a sense of deja vu several times. It’s the novel version of Skins, if the kids in Skins discussed complex literature and politics post sex and dabbled in sado-masachism whilst holidaying in Tuscan villas. Yeah…
Whilst I can’t comment on how accurately it portrays Trinity, as a reader who has done the whole sixth form and uni scene, I just didn’t relate. Let’s be honest, as cool as we like to think we are at 19, life is far more Inbetweeners than it is Skins.
That being said, I am intrigued to see the BBC adaptation!
What have you read and enjoyed recently?