I think it was over a year ago that I started some little features called ‘Book Corner’ where I shared the latest novels I had been reading. It sounds dreadful (especially as a teacher who is constantly promoting reading to her class!) but I really got out of the habit of a good book. I always had one on the go but didn’t really make time to read or keep my ear to the ground about interesting new releases. I think it was also the time I was subscribing to several magazines and then I discovered blogs so although I was constantly reading, proper books didn’t really get a look in.
Fast forward to now and my passion has been reignited! I am devouring books on a weekly basis and while I realise that it is very easy to find the time for a few chapters and a coffee during the summer holidays, I am determined to keep it up and head up to bed a bit earlier to enjoy my current read rather than the TV.
I wish I could photograph some lovely hardbacks but due to the speed I read on holiday (about one book a day) and luggage limitations, I ended up purchasing these titles on my trusty Kindle. I’m not in either camp when it comes to modern e-readers or the real deal books. In my opinion, the words, paragraphs and stories are the same and whilst I understand some people enjoy the tactile experience of turning a page, I personally just appreciate a good book whether it is in paper or electronic form.
First up, I read And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I absolutely adore his other books so I really hoped he could keep it up as I was desperate to love this one too. I really enjoyed it and started reading as soon as the plane took off. Whilst I don’t think it is quite as rounded as The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, it is beautifully written and once again describes an Afghanistan that we almost can’t imagine given the images we constantly see on the news. This book jumps through time but is easy to follow and although tragic, I really love that Hosseini avoids an unrealistically happy ending. I would definitely recommend this one.
Next, something slightly less cheery but a subject that fascinates me nonetheless: Escape From Camp 14. This is the shocking story of a North Korean prisoner who was born into one of the country’s secretive prison camps but managed to escape to China. This is his personal account blended with North Korean history which gives context to his story. It is hard to comprehend what he went through (the book details the hideous torture both he and his fellow prisoners endured) and I really liked the fact that the book did not end with his escape but also documented his struggle to live in the West. One would assume this would equate to a happy ending but you get a real sense of how lost the author still feels without the boundaries and rules of prison life. This one was quite a tough read but I recommend it if you are as interested as I am in this fascinating country.
I wouldn’t be a proper blogger if I didn’t include John Green’s The Fault in our Stars. I jest but this book does seem to be ridiculously trendy at the moment which led to me having high expectations for it. I think having two pretty cool teenage characters is probably one of the reasons for its commercial success with people in their twenties but I did enjoy this one. It’s not your typical ‘cancer book’ although I did sit on my sunbed with tears rolling down my face on several occasions…quite a look! I loved the cute Amsterdam storyline and I think it is a really easy read – perfect to take away on a mini-break.
I had heard a lot of good things about The Book Thief but my first impressions after the initial chapters weren’t great. The story is written from Death’s point of view which is kind of interesting but it adds a lot of waffle too. I grew to love the story and the characters by the end but I can’t help but feel that it would have been much better as a traditional narrative. I think that having Death as the main voice of the book left things slightly disjointed for me. Warning: this is another tear-jerker!
Finally, I bought Elephant Moon as a little extra in case I finished the all others (I did!) and found it to be a really sweet book. Based on a true story, it documents a school teacher rescuing orphaned girls from Burma during World War Two and taking them through the jungles with a herd of elephants to India. The start of the book painted a great picture of colonial Burma, with tensions rising between the locals and the English who would frequent their croquet clubs for endless G&Ts. I found the story gripping in places but whereas the descriptions at the beginnings of the book allowed you to get a real feel for the atmosphere at the time, it soon galloped on and came to a really abrupt end. I felt like the book was almost unfinished and I hate that unsatisfied feeling when you have finished a book!
I am always on the lookout for good book recommendations so I hope you find the above useful and I don’t think I have given away too many spoilers!
Have you read any books lately that you just couldn’t put down? x