Titles link to reviews
Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier. Not as good as Rebecca, but I did enjoy it. I knew the surprise twist quite early, and of course because of the time in which this book is written, despite Mary Yellan being a very brave, tough woman, at the end of the day she is saved by a man, and gives up her dream to follow his.
The Universe vs. Alex Woods by Gavin Extence. I have had this book on my to read pile for several years. I really enjoyed the first few chapters, and I was really touched by the ending (I confess I even cried a bit). But, I do think the middle plodded a bit. There is A LOT of detail that didn’t, in my opinion, serve the overall narrative. I found myself skimming through many paragraphs to get back to the story. But the characters were very alive and I’m sure will remain vivid for a long time to come.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. (light spoilers ahead) I really enjoyed this book. Perhaps because I read it in one day I was really immersed in the world, and was even very frightened at times. On the surface it’s about magic, monsters and old souls, but underneath is a tale of going from the innocence of childhood into the awareness of the far less innocent larger world. As the world around our seven-year-old protagonist shifts (a loved pet dies, he sees a dead man, the family has financial trouble, his mother is less available to him, his father is unfaithful to his mother), like most children, he believes he is responsible for the changes, that he brought the badness to his world. As an adult he has only rare moments of memory for the monsters he faced, which I think is true for many of us. We all sprang from innocence into awareness, we were let down by people, circumstances and ourselves, but most of those moments are gone for us too. The oceans of our childhood have receded into ponds, but the echoes of those ocean waves live within us and have shaped who we are.
The Witches Of New York by Ami McKay (Canadian) I enjoyed this book as I enjoyed both of McKay’s other novels, (The Birth House, The Virgin Cure). She is gifted at writing rich stories about magical women. This book also comes with a wonderful afterword by the author that I suggest you read before reading the story. Not only will it add dimension to your pleasure in the novel, it may make you wish to explore your own powers in the wake of #Metoo and #Timesup.
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig. This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Great story, beautiful insight into life, love and the passing of time. It made me cry and it made me happy. I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this book. Apparently it’s being made into a movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
Slade House by David Mitchell. Creepy and fun. I love Mitchell’s writing. My only dislike, was the level of explanatory conversations, that sometimes seemed a bit contrived. But I still really enjoyed this book.
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. I found I didn’t want to put this book down, even though it could hardly be called a page turner. It was like sitting with a wonderful storyteller and I was entranced. The main character is an everyman coming to terms with his past (who he was compared to who he thought he was) and with the fact that we often fill in the gaps in stories through our own lens on life and we may be very wrong. This has been made into a movie, but apparently is quite different than the novel.
Writing and Story
Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight. A good overview of the craft of writing a short story. I can see myself referring back to this resource when writing.
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero She says a lot of things I’ve heard before, but has a good take on them. But I really have to break my addiction to advice. It feeds my interest in thinking, even changes my thinking at times, but doesn’t always have lasting impact on my actions.
The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles. This was an audiobook. I kept drifting off. It was an odd book. Not really sure what I think of the advice. But it did make me realize audiobooks aren’t my thing.
The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman.I really do have to stop indulging in these books because the advice is so often the same at the core. This book explains a bit about why women tend to question themselves and not be as confident as they would like to be. Even women who appear on the surface to have it all together often suffer from underconfidence. Some of it is a genetic lottery, but we can all grow our confidence, no matter how much or how little it comes naturally. How? Plain and simple; by taking action, possibly failing (the faster the better), but always learning and gaining in confidence with every action. So ultimately, if I’m not confident at something, I have to overcome that feeling and be willing to fail, and then I will grow confident. I think I already knew that. Reading these books is my fake attempt at action. I know that, but I really love reading them.