It occurred to me a couple of days ago that 2015 is probably the first year ever that I haven’t had to read any books. Certainly within the last decade, every year of my life has involved some sort of reading list.
Now I’m not really complaining about this because I’ve been “forced” to read some books that I actually loved, and even those that I didn’t probably improved me as a person in some way or another. But it is nice to be able to read literally whatever I want, whenever I want.
My commute to work isn’t really long enough to get much reading done, but I’ve been trying to make time on the weekends and evenings and I’ve read some good stuff. I’m pretty sure I’ve read more than 3 books so far this year, but the ones that stand out to me are:
Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham
I picked this up for half price on New Years Eve (it’s the kind of book you have to own in real life, not on a Kindle) and kicked off 2015 by promptly devouring it. Lena Dunham is my very favourite 21st century icon and her book only made me like her more. She is just a wonderful genius and this compilation of essays/memories/thoughts etc made me want to be her very best friend.
American Dream Machine, Matthew Specktor
I’ll read anything that’s about disillusioned young men in gritty LA, especially if the book cover has a quote from Bret Easton Ellis on it, so this was an easy purchase. It follows the sons of some of LA’s biggest talent agents, tracking both the three boys’ lives and delving into the histories of their fathers, and is surprisingly actually very easy to follow. This book did exactly what I wanted it to and I’d recommend it to any fellow Easton Ellis / LA fans!
Seating Arrangements, Maggie Shipstead
Again, I’ll also read anything about rich families in the Cape Cod area so this was also right up my street. It’s about the Van Meter family descending on their summer island home for the eldest daughter’s wedding, and told largely from the POV of the father, Winn. I won’t lie, it was fairly predictable, but the characters were well drawn out and I found myself picking up my kindle to get through this whenever I could, which is always a good sign, and I was disappointed when it ended (not because the ending was disappointing, though!). In the back was a satisfyingly long excerpt from Shipstead’s next novel, Astonish Me, and now I definitely want to read that too!
Currently, I’m reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (on the kindle), and also The Deaths by Mark Lawson, which I picked up in my local Oxfam book shop for a cool £2.50.
I’ve been wanting to read Freedom for ages but I’m not really loving it as much as I thought. In fact, I’m completely sure that I have already started it before because the first section was extremely familiar to me, but I have absolutely no memory of where or when and that is unusual for a girl who remembers basically every book I’ve ever read. I’ll get through it but I’m not completely convinced – it’s just a bit angsty and I can’t warm to the protagonist, Patty, at all. Which I guess is the point. I’ll probably finish it but I don’t think it’ll become a favourite!
The Deaths, however, I am already enjoying much more. I’m only a couple of chapters in but it perfectly encapsulates so much of middle class 21st century life and I’m loving the acerbic, slightly tongue in cheek social commentary aspect as much as the mystery. It’s very now – in a way that means it’ll probably be dated in about 2 years – but I can’t wait to find out what happens. I won’t give too much away (in fact I can’t because I’m only on chapter 4) but basically it’s about a mysterious murder case amongst a group of upper/middle class British families – but in the kind of light hearted, darkly funny way that keeps it away from a traditional thriller.
I’m determined to keep up my reading this year so maybe I’ll do regular updates…for now, it’s back to The Deaths for me!