I hope, as I tentatively shout, that my call is not bouncing back to me as if I am in an echo chamber.
You may have noticed there has been little noise here on the pages of Dog Eared Reads for a month or two now. Normal service was disrupted but now the leaves have been swept from the line and we are back on track *toots horn*. Unfortunately a couple of months of rather unexpected bad health put a halt to pretty much all activity over in Dog Eared Towers, for some time I couldn’t read at all which, you can imagine, to me was as distressing a thing to happen as anything that could be told to me in a Doctors room. Luckily the concentration I needed to read did return and now I feel like I can get back in front of this key board and have some bookish conversation with you guys (oh the joy of being able to type from the comfort of bed and the relief you as a reader must feel at not having to see my pasty face atop of my pyjamas).
For this first post back I thought it would be nice to have a quick catch up, what have you lot been reading? There will not be a big, single book review on the blog today, I thought I would just run through some of the things I have been reading while holed up in my sick bed or passing the time in several waiting rooms. The books following all deserve honourable mentions, but I will also be chatting about any big hitters I have read during this time in due course, making sure they receive the centre stage of a blog to themselves.
I have used a lot of this time to catch up on some books that have been sitting in a ‘to be read’ pile for some time. I often worry about reviewing books that are so past publication date on here, but then I love to hear about what people have read, old or new, and there is always a chance it may not have caught the attention of somebody who would provide it with the perfect home, so I intend to carry on doing a mix of old and new unless you lot shout at me to do otherwise.
First off I eventually got round to picking up Sue Perkins memoir, Spectacles. When I saw the art work for the cover way back when I thought it was superbly done and I knew I would want to take a closer look to see if I should read. I then saw Sue Perkins at an event at Cheltenham Literature Festival where she did a couple of readings and managed to make the 600 or so people in the room feel like they were her mate having a good natter with her down the local. I have a very hit and miss relationship with memoirs of those in the public eye but I thought this was beautifully done. Warm and friendly, it struck the right balance of giving an insight into Sue’s life that was respectful. I hate it when I feel like somebody has been pushed to pour out intimate moments they would never have wanted disclosed. Never self-indulgent, no ‘my fathers, fathers, father was born on…’, just constantly honest and funny. I was even moved to tears with this book when I encountered the letter she penned to her dog just after he had been put down. If you are a dog lover such as me, or just a human with a heart really, have a stiff drink at hand for this chapter.
Going with another comedian, I decided to pick up ‘Nina Is Not Ok’ by Shappi Khorsandi, her first venture into writing fiction. I went into this novel knowing absolutely nothing. I really enjoy watching Shappi on the TV so I had picked up a copy of this in hard back when it first came out without looking at the blurb, I decided to jump straight into the first chapter in this continued state of ignorance. Well. I. Never. I was really pleased I went with this. I know working in a book shop and the like I REALLY should know better, but it was not the story I thought I was going to get from the cover and I was all the more thankful for it. This book resonated with me because of some of the issues Nina has to deal with, and although some may have told me to stay away if they knew I was going to read this due to possible triggers, I am glad I avoided such warnings as I actually found it really helpful and honest in the way it broached tricky topics and how we navigate them. In case you do want trigger warnings and a bit of an over view of the themes covered, the book looks as bereavement, self-esteem issues, rape and alcoholism. It has just came out in paperback in the last few days so if you are feeling like you can handle some weighty subjects that are dealt with in an truthful and very readable way, I recommend you get yourself a copy of this.
Again, massively late to the party on this one, but ‘Why We Broke Up’ by David Handler was pretty much devoured in one sitting, how I wish I had owned this book when I was a teenager. Our protagonist writes her ex a letter cataloguing all of the objects she is about to hand back to him and uses each one to explain exactly why they broke up. Making mistakes we all make in those hazy days of first love but also hearing her inspirational voice as she looks back over this time is a joy to read. The book is illustrated so beautifully throughout, by the superbly talented Maria Kalman, I would frame some of the prints if I could. As always, this is officially a young adult read but I enjoyed this at 32 years of age so fill your boots!
In the next couple of blogs I will talk over a couple of other honourable mentions and also start bringing out the big hitters with ‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman, ‘A Line Made by Walking’ by Sara Baume and ‘A Quiet Kind of Thunder’ by Sara Barnard, books you simply HAVE to get your hands on!
It is great to be back in our corner of the internet, I have missed it terribly. As I say give me a shout and let me know what you have been or are currently reading in the comments below or over on twitter @dogeared_reads
Until next time,