Saturday, 13 August 2011

Solo book club

Hostels are pretty neat in that there is usually a shelf of books from which you can exchange something you've already read. Here is a list of what I've eaten up so far, in case you have read them, or were thinking of doing so. Comments/abuse welcome! I'll add to it as I read more.

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld - Described as "The Secret History meets The OC". I can assure you it is similar to neither. It really irritates me when book jackets make crude comparisons, especially when they're utter hogwash. The Secret History is one of my favourite books and this one doesn't deserve the comparison. Boring, contrived and just plain lazy writing made this a mis-step for me.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson - I'm late on the bandwagon with these books but having now read the first two, I get why they're so popular. You can devour them in a couple of sittings. Ideal beach reads, if not slightly graphic for my taste. By the end of the second, you have to suspend your belief a wee bit too much for them to become classics - and I'm going to controversially say now that I think they've only really become so popular because the author died unexpectedly and he's therefore been made into some sort of literary legend - but I'm looking forward to reading the third and final instalment.

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson - See above.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov - yes it's about a 60-something-year-old who lusts after an 11-year-old, no it's not entirely pleasant, but it's a classic for a reason and it's a tough one to read. I enjoyed it, but purely from a (kill me now, I don't mean to sound super-pretentious) literary perspective.

My Life in France by Julia Child - only my sister will know why this American chef makes me laugh! This book chronicles her move to Paris and adventures learning the art of cooking the finest French food. It's a very positive, if not slightly patchy account, but makes your mouth water with every meal she describes. The book is easy to digest (pun absolutely intended) and also serves as a sweet love story.


Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - as with most Booker Prize nominees, this is light on humour and heavy on - note the inverted commas - "meaning". A love story with a touch of the gothic and a few pretentious hints here and there, it plods along quite nicely but never really gets going. I have a feeling my enjoyment - or potential enjoyment - of it was ruined by the fact Keira Knightley's face was plastered all over the book jacket. It's been described as "a dystopian science-fiction thriller" which, in my view, is grossly exaggerating its excitement level. I also hear the phrase "dystopian hell" used to describe a lot of things (albeit by myself, in my head, and I'm usually referring to the gym or the waiting room at the doctors' surgery), so it means little to nothing when a book critic wheels it out.

God Bless America by Piers Morgan - I don't usually like people whose faces remind me of overcooked meat (Harry Redknapp is an exception, no I don't fancy him by the way) but this is a very funny account of the ex-tabloid editor's attempt to crack the States and, if you've read The Insider, a good conclusion following his sacking.

Next on the list: Why Men Marry Bitches and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest

If you have any recommendations, let me know!



  1. I like Chuck Norris V's Mr.T


  2. I think one of the reasons Nabokov is hard to read is because he's shite. That's my in-depth analysis right there. What's the green drink in the photo?
    Think the best travel book I've read is These Are The Days That Must Happen To You by Dan Walsh. If y'see it, pick it up!

  3. Love the in-depth analysis. I don't think he's that bad, but it was a very strange read indeed. All the French in it was a little pretentious. The green drink is mint juice, I drank it loads in Bali! Yum! I'll have a look for that book. x