It has been nice to get out and stomp through crunchy leaves and get out the snuggly jumpers and cardigans and light the inevitable scented candles: despite the troubles of the world the seasons are still turning as we move from autumn into winter.
The darker nights are also the ideal time to fit a bit more reading into our lives! After all, what could be nicer than settling down with a book and a cuppa when it’s chilly outside?
Beautiful World, Where are you by Sally Rooney
Being 2021’s most anticipated release, Rooney’s third novel was always going to be at the top of Willoughby’s TBR. Lovers of Normal People will enjoy the themes we’ve come to expect from her books: complicated friendships and sexual relationships, miscommunication, class tensions, her tight prose.
Yet rather than writing Normal People 2.0, Rooney showcases her humour and discusses some of the larger ideas at play in the social conversation, while maintaining a sense of intimacy between her characters. Her writing is completely moreish!
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Klara and the Sun is all about love and what it is that makes us human. The titular character, Klara, is an AF (Artificial Friend), whose sole purpose is to care for the child she will eventually belong to. She spends some time in the shop waiting for a child to choose her and is eventually taken home by Josie.
Whether she’s simply a feat of impeccable engineering and programming, or something closer to human, Klara is a delight: ever-hopeful, loyal, kind and compassionate. Even if you don’t like much else about this book, I think you’ll love her.
This is not an action heavy, fast moving book. It is more a study of humanity which, like Ishiguro’s other works and most speculative fiction, invites the reader to ponder big questions. I loved it!
The Girl from the Island by Lorna Cook
Lorna Cook is a new author to me. I love a story split between the war and modern day, so this really appealed to me. I loved absolutely everything about this book…the setting, the dual timeline, the descriptions, the characters. Although heart-breaking at times, it was just a beautiful story and now I feel lost that I’ve finished it.
I have already recommended this book to friends and will now go back and read Lorna Cooks previous ones. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time!
I’m Not Scared by Niccolò Amanniti
This is a slim powerhouse of a book that explores the loss of childhood innocence in a small Southern Italian village in the late 1970s. The narrator, Michele, is nine years old and he spends his days riding his bike and playing with the other children of his village, while the adults stay behind shuttered windows to avoid the oppressive heat of the Summer.
When Michele is dared to enter an abandoned house in the middle of the arid countryside, a shocking discovery sets off a chain of events that lead him to question the goodness of the people around him. Who can he trust? And who else knows about the ‘thing’ he has found in the old house?
There is a clever sense of menace pervading every page of this thriller. Each small action and word uttered by the adults in is loaded with a gothic undertone. It is a tautly plotted story where the reader benefits from as little information as possible from the outset.
Educated by Tara Westover
This is an eye-watering, searing memoir of Tara Westover’s extraordinary upbringing in an isolated Mormon family, and her escape. Both a paean to education and a fascinating insight into the devastating effects of mental illness on a family, this is a difficult read, but a remarkable story that will stay with you.
I’ve bought copies for many friends and I suspect you will too- this is destined to become a classic. Highly recommended.