Catching up on January and February reads! (Yes… aware it’s April.)
Sara Zarr – Once Was Lost
Sara Zarr’s third book follows Sam, daughter of a reverend who questions her faith one very hot summer when crises both personal (her mother’s alcohol addiction) and public (the disappearance of a local girl) challenge her views of the world. Not my favourite of Sara Zarr’s books (that’d be Story of a Girl) but well worth reading, and handles ideas of religion and community very well.
Ann M Martin – On Christmas Eve
Sweet-but-not-saccharine Christmas story for younger readers. Loved it.
Tom Perrotta – Bad Haircut
Collection of linked short stories about a guy called Buddy growing up in suburbia. Some are better than others, as is practically inevitable with short stories, and would have liked to have seen whether this could work as a novel (though interesting example of something that is clearly not a novel, despite featuring the same central character and being told in chronological order).
Anne Osterlund – Academy 7
An elite school, an outsider with remarkable skills, a privileged rebel, family secrets, and spaceships. What more could you ask for?
Kerry Cohen – Loose Girl
Memoir about being addicted to sex/love/being found attractive. Falls somewhere in between the misery lit genre and the slightly classier addiction memoir genre – it has a similar cover to (and is published by the same company as) Emily Halban’s Perfect, a memoir of anorexia. An interesting read.
Leah Wilson (ed.) – House Unauthorized
Sometimes I forget to include Smart Pop books in my reading list, so perhaps this needs noting: I love books about TV shows. Smart-but-not-pretentious pop culture analysis. This one, focusing on House M.D., has a nice mix of essays, though it does only cover the first few seasons of the show. Still. Pretty.
Abby McDonald – The Popularity Rules
Abby McDonald is one of those writers to point to when you talk about smart chick-lit: fun reads which focus on women and include ‘typical’ elements of chick-lit like clothes, fabulous jobs, and boyfriends, but are still grounded and realistic about what lies behind a pretty face or apparently great job. The main relationship in this book is between Kat, a 20something music journalist who falls on hard times, and Lauren, the ex-best friend back in her life with a secret handbook about how to be popular, and the look at schoolgirl cruelty and friendship, and how this extends into the adult world, is great. One of my favourite books of 2010 so far.
David Lodge – Deaf Sentence
David Lodge is always terrific, and Deaf Sentence features the usual mix of thinky-thinky stuff and everyday events. The main character is going deaf, gets himself entangled with a postgrad student looking at suicide notes, and musings on deafness and death ensue.
Marian Keyes – The Brightest Star in the Sky
A bit of the mystical-magical stuff with this book, which might put some readers off, though it is worth a read. A presence arrives at 66 Star Street, Dublin, and watches over the various inhabitants of the house, for a reason that will become clear as the reader progresses through the book.
Mary Beard – A Don’s Life
Collection of essays on academia, classical history, and other such things. Good read.
Ariel Levy – Female Chauvinist Pigs
Finally got around to reading this, having intended to for quite a while. Nice ranty read about the ways in which certain hypersexualised behaviours, for women, are seen as ’empowering’ and how they’re also seen as the only way of being sexual. Very American, though still relevant; currently reading Natasha Walter’s Living Dolls which seems to cover some of the same things from this side of the pond.