Things have been a little quiet here over the last few weeks and apologies to everyone taking part in 20 Books of Summer, upon whose posts I have been silent.
The reason being that I was off on a family holiday to Crete! Crete is a very special place for Mr 746 and myself, we have visited the quieter south coast of the island four times now, but this was the first time away as a family and it was really wonderful.
Coming back to reality has been tough and the break from social media has shown me that I probably spend far too much time on Twitter and Instagram, so I am planning to try to find a better balance.
It is hard to believe that we are a month in to 20 Books of Summer!
So, how are you all doing? Way ahead of schedule? Falling hopelessly behind? Wishing you had never started?!
I am doing…OK. My reading is going well – I have read nine of my 20 books, which is ahead of plan but as always I’m falling behind with my reviews.
Just four of my nine have been reviewed, so I have a little bit of catching up to do there and I am really trying not to be tempted to do mini-reviews this year.
Maybe if I spent less time reading books that are not on my summer reading list I’d get more reviews done. Here are a few other books I have read in June.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Oh how I loved Less. I really loved this funny, moving, insightful and farcical book. Arthur Less is a middling author approaching 50. He is well known for a successful debut, his relationship with a famous older poet and the fact that he has not really written anything of note in the last decade. As his younger lover prepares to marry another man, Less plans a round the world trip courtesy of speaking engagements, awards ceremonies and teaching jobs, which will allow him to avoid news of the impending marriage and give him time to rewrite his latest book which has just been turned down by his publisher.
I am not usually one for comic novels, but Less is a rare thing – a genuinely funny, laugh-out-loud book that has lots of heart. As Arthur fumbles and trips from Paris to India, Mexico to Germany, trying in vain to work out where he has gone wrong in life, he becomes that archetypal underdog that you can’t help but root for.
The writing is impeccable, the book beautifully structured and the ending is a sucker punch right to the heart. Highly recommended.
Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant
I came to Sabine Durrant through a recommendation by the brilliant Kim at Reading Matters who praised her page turning thrillers. In pre-holiday mood, I was drawn to Lie With Me as it is, in part, set in Greece. Featuring another failing writer, although this one is not quite as endearing as Arthur Less, Lie With Me explores what happens when you try to live within a lie.
Paul was once the potential next big literary star, but is now in his 40s with no book deal, housesitting for friends and juggling a series of inappropriate younger girlfriends. His life has not gone to plan and reality is starting to close in on him.
A chance meeting with an old acquaintance from University brings him into contact with friends he hasn’t seen for years and as he inveigles his way back into their group he imagines he can use them to better his own situation. The question is though, just who is being used?
Lie With Me is the kind of book that the phrase ‘page-turner’ was made for. It is well written with a horribly conflicting main character, a great sense of place and a spiralling plot that is sufficiently clever to keep the reader in the dark right until the end.
I will definitely be checking for more of these in the library when I’m in the mood for a taut, entertaining thriller.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
This was an airport purchase on the way out to Greece, despite the fact that I had packed four of my 20 Books of Summer for reading on holiday. It was perfect though for travelling and I can see why it has become such a bestseller.
Journalist and screenwriter Michelle McNamara’s book is an in depth investigation into the notorious East Side Rapist/ Golden State Killer, who terrorised California in the 1970s and ‘80s but is also an incredibly insightful exploration of the nature of journalistic obsession and dogged determination to shed light on a case that had been wallowing in darkness. McNamara is a clear-eyed, subtle writer – never allowing the reader to become bogged down in the factual side of the investigation and inserting herself into the narrative just enough to not overshadow the focus.
McNamara died before she could finish the book and although an eminent investigative journalist finished it, the final chapters do suffer due to the lack of her singular voice. There also seems to be a lingering need to link Michelle’s work with the eventual capture of the Golden State Killer (a term she coined), which doesn’t feel justified, although it is understandable given how she raised the profile of the case.
Having said that, I have no doubt that I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is destined to become a true crime classic.
I know it seems like I am wasting valuable 20 Books of Summer time by reading other books, but last year I found that if I read books outside of my list, I was more likely to spend time reading and that in turn meant that I was more likely to read all 20 books.
It’s an odd anomaly, but it’s working for me, so I’m sticking with it!
Do let me know how you are all getting on, now that we are a third of the way through our challenge and I promise, I’ll be back to commenting on your blogs and twitter posts again very soon – once the holiday hangover has been cured!
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!