Tag Archives: Indra Sinha

Those Summer Reads…

I mentioned on my bookish bits last week that I was planning on having a ‘Summer Reads Season’ and what time could be better than when I am away myself on a shortish summer break (longer one coming next month). Ahead this week you can expect to hear from publishers, authors and bloggers regarding favourite reads and what delights they have been saving for summer. The newspapers will be going crazy over this in a few weeks (I always read those seasonal lists) and so I thought ‘why don’t I too?’ But for today lets just look at summer reads as a genre shall we?

Two things made me think of what summer reading as a subject, if I did any – which I have now noted I do, for a post which then became a week long jaunt. One was a post Lija of A Writer’s Pet made which really got my mind whirring. The other was that I was already having to look at what books I had read that were my idea of a perfect summer read for something which launches tomorrow (I am shrouding it in mystery to build up the anticipation, ha) and I came up with this delectable eight of which I have had  to whittle down from.

I was going to list them but then the post might be never ending, if you want a list though let me know! Anyway, I never thought that I was someone who subscribed to the idea of summer reading; in fact I thought I read the same things all year round. When I looked into it though from what I read last year I noticed I do actually read a little seasonally. These books initially look like they have nothing in common but the more I thought about it the more as a group they sum up my summer mentality…

  • They are all well written and yet not hard or oppressive (crime doesn’t have to be dark just have some shades) nor are they froth
  • They each have big themes but never make them depressing
  • They have a slightly magical touch to them even if they aren’t surreal (it makes sense in my head to me if it doesn’t to anyone else)
  • They are books you could languish in no matter the genre
  • They are books you want to rave about to people
  • There is generally sunshine in them to my memory, be it the place, the season it’s written about or just a sort of jovial summery prose (even the war time ones)
  • They are literary yet punchy/paced too
  • None of them is trashy

Not all of them tick all those criteria but each one hits at least four or more… So I guess that must be my criteria for a good summer read from me. Weirdly I could probably sum up an autumnal gem for me far easier than I could a summer. I have also noticed that none of them are particularly long, even though one that looks like it might be.

Interestingly when I looked at what was on my current bedside it seems the ridiculously humid London heat of the last few weeks has started to have a summery effect on my reading subconscious already as I have these lined up and ready to go by the bedside.

I think they all fit with my summer bullet points don’t you? So do you read seasonally? What criteria can you list for me that you need from your summer reads? Don’t give any recommendations yet, save yourself for next week when it all goes recommendation mad! Hope you’re looking forward to it?

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Books for Book Groups…

After my previous post on a few things Book Group orientated and The Riverside Readers I said that I would come back with a post on my personal top Book Group reads as well as discussing my top Book Group tips. Those two things would actually make a bit of a Bible of a post and so I will do the top books today and a few tips and my own experiences for and of Book Groups on Thursday, so hopefully you are all still interested in all things Book Group related. Could I fit the words Book Groups in these previous sentences if I tried?

After seeing Novel Insights wonderful post on her personal top twelve books a group could read in a year I thought I would have a go. This isn’t plagiarism it’s simply joining in, ha. Having been in a few book groups (in fact I am currently in two though one is rather rogue and we only do one every so often when the whim takes us) I realised that I had a list of 38 books that I could choose from. Some of the books haven’t worked (Tales of the Jazz Age – we all had different editions which all featured a different selection of short stories), some have received indifference, some have been disliked and some have been loved, more on those in my list.

Though I haven’t featured the books that were indifferent or went wrong I have included one book which I didn’t care for but caused great discussion and that’s one thing I have noticed from book groups, I might not always like a book but that in itself when lots of people do can make for a great book group read as it causes debate. So what five things do I do in order to make a book group choice now, I may not have always done this in the past mind;

  1. Books you wouldn’t normally read – one of the main points of a book group in my mind – but which are accessible, you don’t want to alienate your other group members.
  2. Books which have been received with strong reviews/thoughts both positive and negative way when they came out, this could cause great debate.
  3. Books that make you think and cause all sorts of discussions with yourself in your own head though you can’t always predict these in advance.
  4. Authors you love and admire who other people might not have tried, though don’t be precious on these as they could get ripped to shreds.
  5. Books that challenge and push you as a reader, if they are going to do this to you they probably will be to others.

Looking back at all the book groups I have been part of in the past which book would I recommend the most? Well after some whittling of the 38 I have read with book groups I came up with the final twelve (like Novel Insights I have chosen a years worth) that I think have caused the greatest discussion in no particular order.

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
  • The Bell – Iris Murdoch
  • In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
  • On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwan (close tie with Atonement to be honest)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  • To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  • Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  • Animal’s People – Indra Sinha
  • Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck (the one I didn’t like – discussion was great)
  • The Book of Dave – Will Self
  • Kafka on the Shore – Hariku Murakami

So there it is. You can see the full list of all 38 books now on the “new and improved” Book Group page where you can also see what the next book group read is. You may be wondering why some of the above list are in bold. Well my Gran wants a list of five books, as I mentioned on a previous post, she could put forward for her book group. I am actually going to send her a list of new books she and her group are less likely to have read along with the five above in bold. More book group musings on Thursday when I will be discussing Book Group decorum and what made me sensationally (love the drama of that word) leave a book group I started after two years! Let me know what you think of the final twelve too can you spot any themes in them? Also please do tell me of any great books you have done in a book group in the past.

P.S Sorry no picture on today’s post I am not a big fan of posts with no images, if it drives me to crazy will be the shot of The Riverside Readers again!

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Second Hand Book Boom

There has been a piece in several different papers this week about the surge in second hand book shop sales. Is this because of the credit crisis? I think that assumption is a little too strong. I personally think people are buying from both; I have to say with book groups I will always try and find a book second hand just in case I don’t like it. Now I am get some sent which helps, I can understand people not splashing out on a book especially hardbacks if they might simply not like it. Mind you I have rules with second hand books, they need to not have cracked spines or water stains I am quite picky unless it’s an orange Penguin or is ‘loved worn’. I can also see in some cases the fact you can get a lot of bargains. Like today when I went for a little wonder (research for this blog you understand) I managed to get all of this for just under a fiver.


Red Dragon/The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
I am almost 100% sure that I have read Red Dragon, but don’t want to check if the ending involves a boat and a sudden twist just in case I am really off and it was one of the others. I saw these and thought ‘oh why not’? I remember enjoying, if that’s the right word, whichever Hannibal Lector book it was about eight years ago.

Animals People – Indra Sinha
I have read this so it’s going straight on the shelves. It was one of the many books I have lent to someone and never seen the light of day again. One of the most unlikely likeable protagonists I think I have read in the last few years and what a story he tells. A fictional chemical factory explodes in a town in India (based on true facts) and the scars it leaves on the land and its people. Brilliance!

Quantum of Solace – Ian Fleming
A collection of all the short stories of James Bond which is in pristine condition and would have set me back over ten pounds. I want to read more Bond after really enjoying the darkness I didn’t expect in Casino Royale last year.

The Ghost – Robert Harris
Have no idea what to expect from this at all. I wouldn’t have picked this up full price but have heard a lot of good things about the author and thought this was a worthy try. We will see…

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors/Paula Spencer – Roddy Doyle
Another author have always wanted to try and read and like the idea of reading The Woman Who Walked Into Doors and then reading its sequel that came out ten years later. Thought would be interesting to read them both in succession and see if it works.

The Night Watch – Sarah Waters
Read it last year and really enjoyed it have bought this for Novel Insights.

A High Wind In Jamaica – Richard Hughes
I would not have picked this classic up had I not seen it today and for so cheap. Sounds like a very interesting mix of Pirate story, children’s adventure and literary classic.

The Shakespeare Secret – J.L. Carrell
I fancy reading some ‘adventure’ stories this year and remember there being some really positive reviews of this, I just didn’t quite want to buy it when it came out and am not sure why now. It’s now on my TBR so no complaints.

Child 44 – Tom Rob Smith
I was sent this by the publishers last year, decided would pick this up as another treat for Novel Insights.

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Filed under Book Spree, Ian Fleming, Indra Sinha, Sarah Waters, Tom Rob Smith