3 - 13 April
The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro
14 - 30 April
I do wonder whether I’m just not well-versed enough in traditional medieval English mythology to have really got to grips with this book - I felt that there was an impenetrability holding me back from really understanding and loving it, and if I were more, I would have got the cleverer jokes and references. And maybe the turgid prose is a deliberate construct, instantly giving the reader the same feeling as the protagonists who are struggling with an amnesiac fog that’s descended over their country. Or maybe I’m overthinking the whole thing and this one just wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m all for a good bit of fantasy fun, but I wouldn’t go to Ishiguro again to get it.
Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld
1 - 7 May
Straight up, I’m going to admit to not being an Austen fan. So sue me. I find her a bit… wet. She just doesn’t have the full-fist impact of a Bronte, for me. On the other hand, I’d read Sittenfeld’s shopping lists if she published them. If you’re the same, let the love of the latter trump the trepidation about the former, because this book - a modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice - is a total joy. You know the story - and yet this book has you in suspense every page of the way. She’s that good a storyteller. It’s a very modern hug from an old friend. Perfect summer reading.
Confessions of a Comma Queen, Mary Norris
8 - 23 May
This one is strictly for New Yorker and grammar obsessives - more the latter than the former. Norris has been a copy editor for the mag for years, and I was hoping for far more anecdotes about its life and times from the woman with the comma shaker on her desk. As it is, it’s heavily about the use of language and punctuation - but done in such a way that if you’re inclined to pick up this particular book, you probably know it all anyway. Fun if you’ve run out of reading, but not one to nudge to the top of the list otherwise.
The World of Simon Rich, Simon Rich
I read this in two hours in one sitting over a couple of cups of coffee on a Sunday morning after a long night on call for work. It’s Rich’s trademark everyday observations told in the quirkiest manner. Not quite up there with Last Girlfriend, sadly - it reads a little more like he couldn’t stretch each observation out into even a short story - but some lovely vignettes that’ll have you cackling away to yourself. A perfect book if you have a couple of hours on a plane any time soon.
On Love, Alain de Botton [also known as Essays in Love]
24 - 30 May
Like many of the people I know who have read and recommended this, I loved it. I didn’t agree with a lot of it, and some of it made me downright cross - but ultimately I loved it. It’s a novel about the process of love; whether you’re in love, have been in love, have an unrequited love, want to be in love, you’ll get something out of this. The characters annoyed the hell out of me, I could see the ending coming from the first few pages, there were premises that made me want to give up on the thing (although I wonder whether that’s because I’m happily married…) but the writing is gorgeous. It’s ultimately an elegant and slender tome on the human condition, and that’s always something worth having.