Monday, 9 February 2015

The book list #1

I've always been an avid reader, and no matter how many hours I work, or other things I have to do, nothing seems to get in the way of that and I am so glad. It's one of the things that makes commuting so bearable, and turns a rainy Sunday afternoon into fun.

I thought it would be a shame not to share my latest literary finds with the world, so here begins my first round up of my latest bookshelf and why they were so brilliant (or maybe not?)

The Group - Mary McCarthy
Strangely, I had started to read this book some time ago, when I was in university. Likening it to a 1930s version of Sex and the City I thought I would instantly love it, but back then I couldn't get past the first chapter! A book club I recently joined picked The Group as their book, so I picked it up again 5 years later and gave it another go. I am so glad that I did - it's probably one of the best books I've ever read. It follows a group of 8 friends who have just graduated from university in NYC in the '30s, through the next phases of their lives. It's such an interesting story about women at that time, the struggles and the strengths - all told with such realism. My knowledge of the history of that time leads me to believe that it is a very accurate portrayal - and the author actually graduated the same college at the same time that the book is set; so there are definitely some autobiographical aspects there. When it was first published in 1963, it caused a scandal and in many places was banned for its open discussions about politics, contraception, mental health and other topics. It's a must read for any female - I will be looking for more of Mary McCarthy in the near future!

Dark Places - Gillian Flynn
Like most readers, I was captivated by Flynn's epic novel Gone Girl, and was so excited to learn there was even more to read. I picked this book up earlier last month after wanting to read more of Flynn for a while and I was not disappointed. Dark Places follows the life of Libby Day, whose traumatic childhood still scars her to this day. Her family killed in an infamous massacre left her feeling guilty and helpless as the only survivor - bitter and furious to this day at the assumed killer and the way her life has gone. It is so brilliantly written, haunting and captivating, making you guess right until the very end. Libby's character is eccentric and at times quite un-relatable, but still very believable. It took me barely any time to read as I couldn't put it down. It's not quite as good as Gone Girl in my opinion,  but that could be because I just loved that book and even the film adaptation. It is most definitely worth a read however, and I'm looking forward to the last of Flynn's works, Sharp Objects next.

Brooklyn - Colm Tóibín
This one was a new author for me - and something I just spotted one day in Waterstones. The blurb just about did it for me, so I bought it there and then. The story follows Eilis in 1950s Ireland. She emigrates to New York City to find work, and the book tracks her life and adventures, struggles and heartaches. It has quite an unexpected and tragic ending - certainly one that leaves you thinking.
The book has been named one of the '10 best historical novels' by The Observer - something that as a lover of historical fiction, I'm not sure I agree with. It's a lovely story, realistic, believable and well researched - but it's not an epic. Nevertheless, I've just seen that Tóibín has just released a new book; something that I would be keen to get my teeth into!

Before We Met - Lucie Whitehouse
This was the most chick-lit esque book I've read in a while, and to be fair, it isn't really a chick lit. I'd previously read The Bed I Made, and after reading Gone Girl & Dark Places, knew I wanted to read more psychological thrillers. This was not  disappointment. The story centres around Hannah - newly married to a successful businessman, and very happy. Until one night he does not return on the flight from his business trip; and what follows is a web of lies, secrets and mysteries that Hannah is left to discover. It's a very clever story, and quite an easy read which is nice in a book of this genre. I really enjoyed it - I wouldn't say it was quite as good as Flynn's work, but it was gripping and exciting, and I really wanted to get to the end to discover what happened. Other than being a little bit far-fetched in parts, this was a really great read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre.

Elizabeth is Missing - Emma Healey
I finished this book just today - yet another novel that I drank in and could barely put down. This was a really enjoyable book, funny and sad at the same time, intriguing but very believable. It flicks back between present day and 1950s England, following Maud who is now an 80-something lady whose memory begins to fail her. Convinced that her best friend Elizabeth, is in trouble she sets about trying to find her as best she can, much to the dismay of her family. The parallel story is actually even more captivating in my opinion and the link between them was done very well.
About half way through I thought I had guessed a rather mundane ending to the book and started to get disheartened but thankfully I was mistaken. The book carries on to a very clever end, brining together the two halves of the story in a surprising and poignant way. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the author is a 20-something writer with clearly a lot of talent. I hope we can expect some more good stories from her.


  1. "The Group" seems like a great read. It's so odd to think about how things we discuss openly in our every day lives (and on TV--ie Sex and the City) were once considered controversial. We're so lucky to live in the time we do!


  2. Ooh The Group sounds like my kind of book, as does Elizabeth is Missing, I always have an audio book on the go so I'm adding these to my list. Great post! xx

  3. Great selection.Thank you for sharing.


 photo blanklogofull.png