Oh, that’s right, I have a blog. I also have commitment issues. What, a wonderful combination.
Anyway, it’s halfway-ish through the year. Goodreads tells me there is 197 days left in the year. So, I thought I’d talk books I have absolutely loved so far.
I read a lot. I am also stingy, with ratings. My average rating is like 3.24. To me, these books are the best of the best. All of the six listed here have gotten five star ratings. I have read as of writing this 1468 books this year (yes, I will write a post on that).
I tend to read non-fiction, but what I rate hire tends to be fiction. I am built on quandaries and contradictions. So below, and in no real order, is some of the fiction that has blown my socks off, so far this year. I’ve tried to limit spoilers.
How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Moshin Hamid
This year, I have read all of Hamid’s books that were available in the local library. This one is my favorite. (A very close second is Exit West). I’ve heard it said, that Hamid’s books are very timely, so they don’t necessarily age well. This one, was a few years old by the time I read it, and I loved it. This is the story, for one man and his pursuit of the good life in an unnamed South Asian country. The story is told quickly, speeding through almost a whole life, in not many pages. The words are used economically, and the ‘you’ pronoun is used throughout, which helps keep it sharp. Though, the ‘you’ pronoun is definitely a love it or hate it thing.
Autumn by Ali Smith
On the topic of timely books, this was certainly one of those. The first of Ali Smith’s quartet, it follows a woman through the season of autumn, which is my favorite. The main character is woman works at a university on a causal contract (living-the-dream according to her mother), has to renew her passport, and visits her old neighbor who has been left to waste in a nursing home. This is set in 2016, the Brexit vote has just happened, that gets a couple of mentions. What, I adored about this book is that it captured life brilliantly, and painted such a vivid picture. Ali Smith, really crafts these complicated and well drawn characters.
There was a motif of autumn leaves throughout, again a love it or hate thing, but I loved it. It worked very much like the waves did in Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, to move the story along. Besides, if the book is called autumn, do really think you’re not going to read about changing of the leaves.
The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss
Another book that captured the mood brilliantly. It’s the story of a family, after their eldest daughter has an ‘incident’ at school and is dead for a few minutes. She survives, but it becomes one of those things, they measure time by. This is told from the point of view of the girls father, who is just so white middle-class and left-leaning, (I know lots of people just like him). The book just captures middle-class Britain so well. There is a sentence about a shoe rack, which just hit the spot. It looks at almost child loss, privilege, Britain’s current politics, and the role of men in family life. Adam, is the primary parent, his job is lesser hours and lesser money, so we get thoughts on him being in that role.
The Tidal Zone, was a book that had me forcing myself to slow down, and savor it. Honestly, it gave me butterflies, and I was whispering ‘yes’ to myself as I read it.
A Treaty of Love by Samir El-Youssef
Okay, looking at my favorite books so far it seems that I prefer short books. Of this list, only The Tidal Zone was above 300 pages, and A Treaty of Love was just about 200 pages.
Anyway, A Treaty of Love, is a story a couple living in London in the mid-nineties; she’s Israeli and he’s Palestinian. They don’t just have the normal issues couples have, they’ve come to a point where everything in their relationship is political. Told through his point of view, as he eats his breakfast, and she is supposedly at the post office. It follows him recalling the relationship, their families concerns, and the ongoing discussion about whether to have a child (her idea), as well as the distance that has formed between them. I felt it really, delved into the realities of a relationship that will be seen by many as political, as well as the reality of being so far from ‘home’. In the end, you are left asking ‘Is love really enough?’
Homesick by Eskol Nevo
I read a lot of books set in Israel and/or Palestine. I don’t know where this fascination, has come from, I’m not religious, and I live in a country where Israel is sort of a non-issue (seriously my colleague thought Gal Gadot was from Iran, umm no). So, this book with its blurb, was definitely going to be my cup of tea.
It follows a group of people in an apartment building, in a small village. The main characters, are a couple, who are both students, one studies in Tel Aviv, and one studies in Jerusalem, and the apartment is supposed to be halfway between the two cities. The couple next door, own both apartments, and are about the same age. Except they are more working-class. They have settled down young, and had kids. Another family, close by are dealing with the loss of the older son, who was serving in Lebanon. There is also a Arab character, whose family are from the village, his mother still has the key to one of the houses. And the story is punctuated by letters from one of the characters friends who is traveling around South America. The story, follows this group of people through the space of a year. Things change. The tensions of Israel in 1995 come to a head.
The book moves point of view, without warning. Some books can muck this up, but this does it well, you kind of got the feel that while not all of the characters talk to each other, they are all in it together. I loved how this ended, it was hopeful, but not too hopeful. Things will move forward, but some questions are not fully answered.
The Lost Daughter Collective by Lindsey Drager
This is weird one. It follows a ‘support group’ of such of men who have lost their daughters. Some have died, and some are missing. One particular father has a daughter who is lost, but is neither dead nor missing. It uses a lot of fairy tale and children’s fiction references. The chapters are short, sometimes only a few lines. Those lines pack a punch. There is lots of metaphors and illusions. In the end, it is an ode to the love of a parent for their child. Again, this is a timely book, as the ‘loss’ is something that has had lots of discussion about lately.
So, that’s six. I was flicking through goodreads, and determined that I have at least another six to talk about. So, I think I’ll do a part two of this. I also hope to do a similar list for non-fiction, because I’ve read some life changing stuff so far this year. When that’ll happen, I don’t know, but hopefully soon.
Thanks for reading.