I am a book lover. The books in my house outnumber all the other household objects put together yet I still keep buying more. And yes, I buy my books. I don’t go to the library. I know I should. But when it comes to books I’m greedy, I want to own them. Or at least the non-fiction ones. I want to be able to make marks in the margins, fold down the corners of the pages and put chapter tabs on them and keep them around in case I need them at a later date. You know what I mean? My bookshelves are overflowing with non-fiction books.
However I do love fiction and every once in a while, often when I have been reading way too much serious non-fiction stuff, I go on a proper fiction binge. At the beginning of December, I was in need of the medicine of story so I asked my friends on social media what they had been reading lately and got a giant list of fabulous titles. Personally, I love to listen to audiobooks, but when I find a story I really love I often buy the physical book as well.
Reading fiction transports me to another world and reminds me of how much I adore the power of language. Story has always been important to me and so many of the characters I have come to know in books have stayed with me offering inspiration and courage during challenging times in my life. Whenever I feel like I am losing my connection to magic or poetry, fiction brings me back. So I listened to six books last month. Because one was not enough! Here is what I enjoyed.
- The Time Traveler’s Wife : this is a story that I have read many times but never listened to on audio so I started my fiction binge with this one. I cried my eyes out just like I wanted to and fell in love with the characters and the story all over again. This is hands down one of my favourite love stories of all time and one of the fiction books I keep on my home bookshelf.
- Ireland: A Novel: I visited Ireland for the first time in 2018 and fell head over heels in love the landscape, the people, and the culture of that country. I cannot wait to go back and am nourishing my infatuation with Irish culture by reading as much as I can about Irish history. This novel uses a really cool narrative structure in that it tells a story about a storyteller and a boy whose life was changed by meeting him. It covers an entire history of Ireland through story while also following the arc of this boys life and his search for the old wandering storyteller. And there is a beatiful twist at the end. If you love storytelling and you love Ireland you will love this book.
- Good Omens: This book was hilarious! Master storytellers Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman teamed up to write this outrageous story about the end of days and it made me laugh out loud many times. If you are looking for something fun this one will not disappoint.
- The Alice Network: A Novel : I love historical fiction stories for the way that they can give you a window into another life or time. It tells the story of a young girl named Charlie who is looking for her cousin who disappeared during WW2 and enlists the help of a retired British spy who was part of a web of female spies who worked undercover in France during the First World War. This is an easy read and I definitely enjoyed it.
- City of Thieves: A Novel: I read this book by David Benioff just before Christmas and was so impressed with his writing. This story is set against the bleak and terrible landscape of Leningrad during the siege of WW2 but tells a very a moving story of friendship. This book will make you laugh and it will definitely make you cry. It will also paint perfect images in your mind that you will remember for a long time. Which is exactly why I love to read fiction.
- The Lonely Hearts Hotel: A Novel : As December came to a close I read The Lonely Hearts Hotel and it killed me! This one is going on my bookshelf for sure. Written by Canadian author Heather O’Neill it is set in Montreal and spans the inter-war years, including the Great Depression. It’s a book about orphans and nuns, imaginative children and sad clowns. It touches on some very difficult themes such as childhood sexual abuse, drug addiction, and prostitution, but does so in a way that breaks your heart (and mind) wide open (without making anything seem glamorous or sexy because it’s not). Oh and its a love story. A dark and beautiful love story that is full of magic and grief.
I adore the way this book was written. It’s filled with poetic similes like this-
“The soft sound of the rain on the rooftop sounded like young girls sneaking off in stockings to elope.”
As well as really hard hitting stuff like this-
“That’s all you get in life—a childhood. And you get a mommy, and if you’re real lucky, you get a daddy. And that time is filled with all these feelings of love, even if you get the worst parents in the world. And then as an adult you always have to go around trying to find fake ways to get that feeling. You have to do the dirtiest, most lowlife things to find that feeling. That feeling is always in the most strangest of places.”
This book is probably not for everyone and definitely comes with a trigger warning, but it is without a doubt the best story I read in 2018 and one I know I will re-read again and again. I am now obsessed with Heather O’Neill and was deligthed to find out that her and her (also creatively talented) daughter have an Instagram account in which they share what they are reading. How fabulous is that?
I hope this post will inspire you to check out some great storytelling and my aim for this year is to post regular blogs sharing what I am currently reading, fiction and non-fiction. You will notice that I shared Amazon links above so you could check the books out for yourself, please know that I am a huge supporter of local independent bookstores and I strongly encourage you to support your local bookseller. But I also know what it is to live in a small town that does not have a bookstore so personally, I do the best I can and try to spread out my book buying dollars. As well if you buy a book using one of the links above I will get a small kickback from Amazon and this money gets recycled into more books. So thank you in advance for keeping me reading.