Having had the luxury of Christmas and not having to read quite so many child behaviour books (which by the way, be careful reading those…), I have had the opportunity to read some great books lately. I would like to briefly share some of them with you as recommended reading. I will be offering my own opinion on the books, and in no way should these opinions be considered with any reference to my knowledge (or lack thereof) of the authors, their background, intent, or any other thoughts on the books previously presented in academic circles. I am going purely by what I thought about them when I read them!
Right, so first I was told by a friend of mine to read 2011 Booker Prize winning novel; The Sense of an Ending. Written by Julian Barnes, this novel was not something I would normally read, as I am more inclined to read fantasy or as mentioned before, parenting books. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
The actual plot frustrated me a little bit, just because it wasn’t my sort of thing, but the writing was so insightful and full of an intelligent inward looking ability to know how the human mind works. Barnes captured for me, those awkward moments in life when we start to realise we ‘got it wrong’. The difficulty of spending years of your life with a particular notion about someone, and how we tend as humans, to form very strong ideas based on very little fact just to get ourselves through a certain experience. I loved the way the main character initially remembered a letter he had written in a moment of anger and passion. His recall of what he had written allowed him to believe himself innocent of hurting the other party too badly. He imagined himself as the bigger man in the situation, and quite mature. He admitted to certain parts which might have been harsher than necessary, but forgave himself over the years by justifying his letter with a skewed view of the people he had written to. It was only in his later years, when confronted with the actual letter he had written that he realised just how he had mislead himself as to his ‘goodness’. Who hasn’t done that?! As humans, no matter how honest we are, we do have a tendency to lie to ourselves and others all the time. It is an attempt to give order and meaning to the things we think and do. Barnes put that across in his novel with such a subtlety in the writing, even though the message was as blunt as a sledgehammer.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I was surprised and delighted at the sensitivity which Barnes showed for human frailties and the mess we can make of things, but yet how we inevitably need to get on with life and forgive those things which seem to strike us at the most basic level and cause us to question what sort of person we really are.
The next book was given to me by the same friend for Christmas. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. Short, frustrating, but yet enthralling. I really wanted to slap both the main character and his girlfriend/wife most of the time, but equally, I just wanted to jump in there and tell them both it would all be fine if only they would just talk to each other. A really lovely look at how easily a relationship can fall into disaster without truthful communication on both sides. Two people who are in love, but yet innocent due to the time they live in and the circumstances of their life. McEwan, teases the reader through the awkward moments of this couple’s wedding night. They never get to that crucial ‘moment’ due to fears and misunderstandings, which could so easily have been dispelled with only a few chosen words or actions. Instead the whole thing ends in disaster and eventually divorce. Sad. For a moment there, I thought they were really going to sort it out, get the deed over with and then that would release enough tension to allow them to talk about it and work out how to get it better for the future. Alas, it was not to be. Definitely worth reading though, as the language is lovely and the writer clearly has skill as a story teller.
Right now, I’m reading the first in The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan. I really enjoyed all his Percy Jackson books, even though the are written for kids. I am rather partial to the idea that kids with ADHD are that way because their minds and bodies are designed to be warriors, and they are always on high alert in order to fight off mythical monsters. Dyslexic kids are that way because their brains are hardwired for reading Ancient Greek due to being descendants or children of the Gods. It’s a nice idea that our children who currently don’t fit in to society are destined for heroic deeds. The Red Pyramid is along the same lines as Percy Jackson, but with Egyptian Gods, and different enough to hold my interest. Something I do find quite frustrating though, and it’s not to do with Rick Riordan, or his books, that was just a clumsy change of ideas from me…is that living in Australia really restricts which books and when I can get them on my Kindle. I assume it’s because of some kind of import or copywrite rule in Australia and it annoys me. Rather a lot. Sometimes I get recommendations from Amazon and I think, “Yay! A new book in the series I am reading has been released!” only to click on it and have it say, “this title is not available in your region for Kindle.” Bah!
Well that’s it for stuff I’ve been reading. Go out and get some reading done if you haven’t been already!