How do you end up reading certain books? Do you get recommendations from friends or tips on social media? Do you keep an ongoing to-read list? Or does a cover catch your eye in a bookstore? Every since I began using Moleskine agendas, I’ve kept a list of books to read on the last page and am constantly adding tips from Twitter, recommendations from friends, or the titles of interesting books I see in stores. I recently created a pinterest board of books I want to read and am constantly looking for new titles. Here’s a list of what I read over the summer and how I came across each book.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. A story about a group of students at an English boarding school as they grow up and slowly learn that their lives are destined for another purpose. I enjoyed reading Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day and watching the film adaptation of Never Let Me Go, so I thought I would be enamored with the book. But I found the writing was a bit stiff. It’s not often that I’d recommend a film over the book, but that’s the case here.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. I finally had my chance to read the latest from one of my favorite authors, which I gave to Marcus for Christmas and had to wait for him to finish. In the books of Murakami, I know I will always get a dose of the dark, mysterious, intriguing, and perplexing. 1Q84 is the story of a parallel world and parallel lives, with a threatening cult thrown in the mix. I know people who found parts repetitive, but I thought the pace of the book reflected the rhythm of music, one of Murakami’s recurring themes. I didn’t want it to end, and that’s the best recommendation I can give.
The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart. A very pleasant read about a man with a deep sadness who is put in charge of the royal menagerie. Sweet, but not frivolous. This had been on my to-read list for a while after seeing a recommendation in an issue of Real Simple. Check.
Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James. I heard an interview with the author on NPR last winter and was naturally drawn to a story that attempts to intertwine the characters from a book by one of the greatest authors. It’s an engaging novel from a murder mystery point of view, but the characters were nothing like the characters of Pride and Prejudice. I spotted this book in a bookstore in Bath and thought I would see what it would bring.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. A look at the lives of two women in Kabul, Afghanistan. Mariam’s life is a struggle from the start and when her father forces her to marry an older, cruel man, it only gets worse. A few houses away, in another world, Laila lives a life of happiness with her parents. When her family is killed, Laila and Mariam’s lives are brought together and they become stronger as they struggle together.
Persuasion by Jane Austen. My favorite Austen book about the story of a second chance. I’ve read it a dozen times and will a dozen more.
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. This book begins at a university with three students exploring the limits of sanity, which was written so spot on that it made me nostalgic for my undergraduate days. The students leave the comfort of higher education and the real character development begins. I can’t remember when this book landed on my to-read list, but I finally got my hands on it thanks to the lovely Ellen.
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. A story set in New York at the end of the 19th century. The beautiful Lily Bart belongs to a society bent on pleasure and centered around money. This book is almost as good as The Age of Innocence. My younger sister and I have been reading American classics together over the past year and this was a gift from her.