August 1, 2017, by Lucy Bray
Summer Reads 2017
Is it just me, or is the summer weather taking a while to get started? Time to run away on holiday to a sunnier climate, and what better way to while away an afternoon on a sun lounger than with a good book?! Here’s what UoN Library staff have been delving into recently in our Summer Reads 2017 edition…
Elle Malcolmson, Content & Discovery
This is a wonderful story about the way in which the main character deals with the aftermath of discovering her husbands affair. It follows the highs and lows as she starts to piece her life back together and culminates in a party, hence the book title. The author has constructed the characters well and provides a number of side themes, which are particular powerful in that although at any given point you may side with one character, you end up feeling empathetic towards another. Although on occasions you end up doubling back on yourself and wondering why you felt an empathy. I would liken this plot and character development to being similar to that of Maeve Binchy, leaving you wanting to know more about the lives of the other characters. In some ways this book is fairly predictable but that is what makes it such a good read because it is predictable but has its twists. This is a firm favourite which I re-read about every year or so. It’s always a shame when I come to the end of it.
Beck Maguire, Accessibility Support
I’ve recently read ‘The Tobacconist’ by Robert Seethal. I picked this book up in the airport thinking it looked like a good read – it was! Set in Vienna in 1937, it tells the story of a young man – Franz – who moves from the Austrian lake district to work in a Tobacconist’s in Vienna. The annexation of Austria by Germany is depicted through the relationships and struggles of Franz who lives through such a dangerous and profoundly sad time. I’m interested in this period of history but even if you’re not, this is a story of love and ideas set against a storm of inhumanity and I’d highly recommended it.
Lucy Bray, Research Support
Hawkins’ first offering, The Girl on the Train, was a massive hit when it was made into a Ben Affleck movie. Having loved both (although I much preferred the ending from the book compared to the one in the movie!) I couldn’t wait to read Hawkins’ latest novel. The story begins when a single mother turns up dead at the bottom of a river, following the deaths of multiple other women to the same fate. 15 year old Lena is now motherless and must be cared for by her Aunt who had a difficult childhood living in the village. There are many (arguably too many) characters and interwoven plots running through the book, with each chapter being told from a different person’s perspective. At some point most of the characters end up looking guilty and the reader is constantly guessing who might be behind the crime. If you read The Girl on the Train then give this one a go. If you haven’t read The Girl on the Train, then read that first as it is more fast-paced and gripping with a fantastic plot-twist!
Kim Woods, Customer Services
So far this year my favourite book I’ve read is American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Such a cool concept, linking mythology to immigration. Gripping plot that takes you all over America, and characters who are both unsettling and fascinating. I contemplated breaking into the library one evening when I realised I’d left it in the staff room!
A good non-fiction book I’ve been reading is The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean by David Abulafia. It covers the history of the Mediterranean from around 3500 BC to the present. It’s dense but well-written and approachable for non-academics such as myself.
Right now I’m revisiting The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – as I’ve been gripped by Bruce Miller’s adaptation, currently showing on Channel 4. Gilead makes me so furious but it’s important to remind ourselves how fragile our societal norms can be.
For more you can read our summer reads blog post from last year.
Let us know what your favourite #summerreads2017 are in the comments below!