This week four more Helbling authors have shared their holiday reading plans with us. Find out what Elspeth Rawstron, Robert Campbell, Rick Sampedro and Walter McGregor are reading this summer.
I ended a spate of reading WWI books with Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life. It took me a chapter or two to get into it, as it jumps from one life to another, but then I was hooked. The main character, Ursula, lives through WWI and WWII and she lives her life over and over again. Each time she is able to adjust her life a little and avoid the tragedy of the last version, but then by avoiding that tragedy she sets another one in motion. It may be tempting to think if you lived that chapter of your life again you’d do it differently, but then maybe differently would just be worse.
After finishing that, I read Robert Galbraith’s Silkworm. I didn’t manage to guess who did it and I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first book. That said, I want to read the next! Now I’ve got another Jess Walter book to read because I loved Beautiful Ruins and it has to be said, they’ve both got very eye-catching covers.
Right now I’m reading One Man and his Bike by Mike Carter. He’s a travel writer at The Guardian, who embarked on a round the UK coastline cycling trip. It took him nearly full six months and his accounts are so vivid, so full of joy and discovery and so many useful tips are given that if you ever consider doing something similar, or simply reading an inspiring book – this is the one for you! I’m loving every single page of it.
Once I’m done with Mike and his bike I will resume reading The Nature Principle by Richard Louv. Mr Louv is the one who coined the expression ‘nature-deficit disorder’ about which I read a very interesting article in Resurgence magazine (one I strongly recommend). The book addresses and gives some ideas as to how to counter the negative effects of an unrestrained use of digital technologies on children. He champions a return to nature as part of the healing process. A must read.
If I truly feel like it, I’ll attack (again) 21st Century Skills by Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel. For some reason I find it difficult not to finish books I start reading. It really has to be awful for me to feel happy dumping a book. Nobody’s perfect, I know. This is a very money-oriented outlook on what we need to live in the 21st century and beyond and needless to say, I strongly oppose most of the views expressed in it.
Last week I finished The Frontman – Bono (in the name of power) by Harry Browne. U2’s charismatic frontman is given a bash and is bitterly criticised for his role in supporting social causes on the one hand and endorsing imperial and corporate actions on the other. A good read and one giving an interesting insight into the charismatic Irish band leader.
I’ve just finished reading Stoner by John Williams which has been called ‘the greatest novel you have never read’. Although it was published back in 1965, it’s only become well-known in the last few years. The novel’s about a young man who goes to college and becomes a teacher. It’s beautifully written but ultimately I found it rather too sad and depressing for a summer read. So now I’m reading something lighter.
Before I Go To Sleep is a debut novel by SJ Watson who I’d assumed was a woman until I looked the book up online and discovered he wasn’t! Apparently this psychological thriller was the result of a writing course. I think the inexperience shows but it’s still a gripping story about a woman who wakes up each day not remembering anything about her past. It’s about to be released as a film starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth so it’s an opportunity to read the book before seeing the film. (P.S. I can’t wait to see the film version of Gone Girl coming in October.)
This holiday I read The Bunker Diaries by Kevin Brooks which – rather controversially – won the Carnegie medal for children/young adult fiction. It’s strong, dark and edgy, but entertaining. It’s maybe written technically for young adults but the theme is adult. It’s about six people from all ages and backgrounds that are kidnapped and locked in an underground cell/prison by an antagonist that we never get to meet. The ending is bleak and hard-hitting but fitting with the story line. Read if you dare.
I also read a western called Valdez Is Coming by Elmore Leonard who sadly died about a year ago and was better known for crime fiction. Out of all the genres I had never read a Western. I loved ‘cowboy movies’ when I was young and thought it was about time I saddled up and rode off into the written prairie. I love its fast pace and realistic narrative which I think was Leonard’s greatest skill. The book was made into a film in 1971 starring Burt Lancaster but the book is a lot better. It always is.