A long enough book to suit me.

17 Jan

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” -Oscar Wilde

Over the holidays I indulged. Like most people, I shelved my better judgement and drank and ate copious amounts of delightful things; which ultimately left me in a perpetual state of amused bewilderment, and self-appointed languor. Being the glutton that I am, I also managed to spend the better part of my holidays devouring words. I had been longing to devote most of my holidays to compelling narratives. Feeling hopeful, I had crammed several novels into my luggage, and had updated my e-reader with a long list of titles. I had not exactly worked out the logistics of this long-awaited reading marathon, but I was optimistic that I would somehow secure enough solitary time to read at least half of the books on my ‘to read’ list. Ultimately, I did not succeed in my task and yet I did not out right fail either. Considering all of the family engagements, author meetings and sight seeing, I did a pretty decent amount of reading for leisure. Finding merit in all of the books I read, I want to share with you my holiday reading list.

The very first book I tackled was Andrew Kaufman’s delightful and quirky 88 page novella  The Tiny Wife. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to wake up one morning to discover that your Mother had shrunk to one ninety-eighth of her size and multiplied 98 times over, well, look no further.

Second up was When I was five I killed myself by Howard Buten. The protagonist is an eight year old boy, and it is his voice that guides the narrative. Burton is a rather unusual child, and his unusual perspective on things results in a rather naughty misdeed that lands him in a Children’s Trust Residence Centre. Although we are led to believe in the opening chapter that Jessica is dead, this is simply not the case. And where the title suggests suicide, there is none of that either. There is suspense though, and plenty of it.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. A domestic drama, where the narrator revisits his school days in hopes of making sense of his current situation in life. An old school master warns his pupils: Never trust history that is born from the delusional or self-defeated. Sadly, this applies to our personal history as well, and our protagonist learns this as he diligently unearths the untruths of his past…emerging fully scathed and better for it.

Nicholls’ One Day was an impromptu purchase. I had heard the buzz surrounding this book, and decided to check it out for myself. Overall, it was a very easy and pleasant read. The author produces two engaging and sympathetic characters; as a reader you are instantly caught up in their awkward, and painfully obvious affection for one another. You become an avidly frustrated cheerleader, as these two characters insist on denying themselves the happy future that is staring them in the face. I was on board for three-quarters of the book, and so as not to ruin it for any potential readers, I will stop there.

Next on the agenda, was Invisible by Paul Auster. I plucked this one from my cousin’s bookshelf, and greedily consumed it in two days. Structurally it is a treat; stories within stories and multiple narrators abound. We are presented with an unreliable narrator, Adam Walker, an aspiring poet who makes poor decisions when it comes to the company he keeps. A more thorough review will follow.

Last but not least, there was Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Certainly not an ‘airport’ purchase, it was my reading material for the flight home. Similar to the vein of Jane Eyre, this classic novel deals with subjects of class, marriage and the woman’s role in society. With a haunting, and suspenseful narrative, Rebecca is a psychologically tense melodrama that produces an acute sense of empathy and curiosity within its readership.

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