Summer Reads

Summer is here (sort of) and that means we can read all the books we haven't managed to  read yet this year!

I have a few books I've read and a few which are on my radar so I thought I'd share some of them!

First is A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki which has been one of my favourite books this year and has just been longlisted for the Booker. A writer living on an island on the coast of Canada finds a Hello Kitty lunch box with a diary of a teenage girl named Nao, a watch and several letters written in Japanese. This is a fascinating book that will take you to Japan, will enlighten you about awesome Buddhist nuns, will make you think and dream and travel. The book is also about stories. The stories we tell ourselves, the story we read and the stories around us we didn't even know were there. I absolutely loved it.

I haven't read Life after Life by Kate Atkinson yet but I have heard SO MUCH about it that I really can't wait to settle down with it during a long weekend this summer. I am just fascinated to read the many lives of Ursula Todd and how each life intertwines with world events. Kate Atkinson is such a talented writer and I was completely won over when I heard her talk about this book. 

Yes, yes, I was totally late on this bandwagon but Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is absolutely, mind-blowingly AMAZING. If you haven't read it yet, do. If you have read it, well you know what I mean. This book is SO tense and addictive I was an emotional wreck for two weeks. Nick Dunne's wife Amy disappears on the day of their 5th anniversary and the police start to suspect him. More or less everything goes downhill from there. How exciting, right?

I'm putting A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin here but it can be any next book in the series you need to read (I'm waiting for a long weekend to start on the second book!). I think more or less everyone loves the show but the books are so SO amazing, you HAVE to read them. And it's not just the fantasy fans all around the world saying this, it's literally everyone else as well (more or less everyone else in the world). The characters are all amazing (Tyrion and Arya are obviously my fave), the plot is incredible (well, the 1205794310 plots there are through the series) and it's just amazing so go read it at once.

If any book has to compete plot-wise with Game of Thrones, it kind of has to May We Be Forgiven by A. M. Homes. I know, it sounds weird, but I'm reading this at the moment and I have come to the conclusion that A. M. Homes might be, just a little bit, related GRRM. I mean, this book is INSANE (in a really good way, don't get me wrong!!). The characters, the plot, the themes are quite simply brilliant. The book is hilarious and after reading the first 50/100 pages you wonder what on earth the rest of the book can contain if this is only the beginning. It won the Women's Prize for Fiction this year and you have to read it if you haven't. So there. 

I haven't read Angelmarker by Nick Harkaway yet but my better half has been raving about it for months. It was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. 

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi has been one of my most anticipated books for this year and I can't wait to read it. She was announced as one of Granta's Best of British Young Novelists this year. This is a book about family, how it tears itself apart and how it reunites. I've been told the book will appeal to fans of Zadie Smith (which I am) so I can't wait to read it.

I read The Humans by Matt Haig earlier this year and I loved it. It's witty, moving and utterly heart-warming. Professor Andrew Martin of Cambridge University solves the world's greatest mathematical riddle and then he disappears. When he is found again, he is somewhat different and seems to have to learn again what it is to be human. 

I have been hearing about Wild by Cheryl Strayed for a while and I've been meaning to read this book ever since. My better half - and everyone else she has given the book to - has been raving about it and I feel this summer I'll finally get around to it! At 26 years old, Cheryl lost everything - her mother, her marriage, etc - so she decided impulsively to walk 1100 miles of the West Coast of America alone with just a backpack. At 26 years old myself, I feel compelled to read Cheryl Strayed's memoir (slightly easier than the hiking, but I have sensitive feet).

A new Curtis Sittenfeld is already an event in itself, so there was no doubt I would want to read Sisterland. I have loved (and at times loved to hate) Prep and American Wife is still on my list of books to read. But also: twins? Special powers? Curtis Sittenfeld's masterful prose? YES PLEASE!

Anyways - here is my little list, what other books should be on my radar?


Blue is the Warmest Color - Julie Maroh

In this tender, bittersweet, full-colour graphic novel, a young woman named Clémentine discovers herself and the elusive magic of love when she meets a confident blue-haired girl named Emma: a lesbian love story for the ages that bristles with the energy of youth and rebellion and the eternal light of desire.
First published in French by Belgium's Glénat, the book has won several awards, including the Audience Prize at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, Europe's largest.
Julie Maroh is an author and illustrator originally from northern France.


I have to say that this has become one of my favourite graphic novels of all time. The story whole-heartedly encapsulates attraction, first love and identity. The book is a diary of Clémentine's life from the early years of her adolescence all through her life and it is an amazing coming of age story. The illustrations serve the story in such a way that you see Clémentine's feelings bubbling up on the page. The use of colour as well as the emphasis put on perspective makes you see things through Clémentine's eyes, allowing you to watch her life unravel (and also ravel - which really should be a word), from her point of view.

Everything seems pretty good for Clémentine at first but when she meets Emma, her world turns upside down. She has to deal with her feelings and the fact that they don't seem to have any sort of relation to what her brain tells her she should feel. Clémentine has never been attracted to a girl before and she has some issues when dealing with it at first. I do think this is one of the best "coming out" type of stories (though I do dislike the term) because it shows you in words and images the effect such a realisation has on a person. It's as if you've lived all your life with an image of you, of life, of things, of everything and all of a sudden your life and this image, this certainty you've had all your life don't match up. And you find yourself having to choose between your heart and your mind and it is sometimes the hardest thing you will have to go through because either way you go, you could feel you are betraying yourself. 

I don't really want to say more about the book because I read it without knowing much and I cried big fat ugly tears from the first pages and I felt I was right there with Clémentine while she was going through these moments. 

I've read it in French but the English version is out in September this year from Arsenal Pulp Press and the film based on the opening chapters of the book has found a UK distributor (Curzon) so it should be in UK indie cinemas soon. The film has been praised by the critics and won the Palme d'Or at the Festival de Cannes but has received quite a lot of criticism over the shooting conditions and the fact that the director didn't thank the author, Julie Maroh, in his acceptance speech. Julie Maroh has written a blog post about the film and has pointed out the lack of realism of the love scenes as well as her issues with the film in general, so do give the graphic novel a chance whether you like the film or not.

Back to basics

I seem to want to get back into this blogging madness so I thought I'd change everything and start again.

This time around, I'm planning to talk about what I really want to talk about: books and films and other things I love without any obligation or stress. I also want to talk about what inspires me, what makes me want to be a better person and so many other things that simply catch my eye. I want this to be as fun and inspiring as it was when I first started.

So I am back, but not exactly the same... hope you'll stay for the ride.