Due to the recent gallivanting, I'm afraid the February post for Laura's The Year in Books project is quite late in the month. The summary of the books I read in January feels such a long a time ago now, and the part on the books I plan to read in February is a bit of a cheat as I already know I've read two of them! However, I shall write on, and endeavour to be more prompt next time!
"I doubt this book will ever disappear in huge numbers from supermarket shelves, or that people will scuffle over the last discounted copy in a frenzied Black Friday riot. Neither is it the leaden, pan-generational epic I pitched all those years ago. It’s something in the middle. Mid-ranged. Comfy. The sort of book that would turn up to a meeting covered in mud and shit having not changed into something more appropriate. Something a little more me."
I really enjoyed this book, and the style of writing was exactly what I expected, dry wit, often self-depreciating but also warm and well-written. I think a memoir is a good way of describing it, as it feels like a collection of anecdotes rather than a full-scale autobiography. The chronology moves around a lot, and some personal events seem to be only half-mentioned, or turned into a funny aside, which can make it feel a quite light hearted rather than being an in-depth life story. If you come to the book with that in mind, then it is a great read, with some incredibly funny writing, but also some moving sections too. She also writes of her family with a very tangible fondness, and their dynamic is incredibly well-captured. There were some poignant sections, and for me, the writing about her beagles really resonated. Despite my obvious enjoyment of Great British Bake Off, this book included some interesting background to the series, but was about much more than just that programme, and had a really broad appeal.
"I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane."
The Husband bought me a few John Green books a couple of years ago, I think when The Fault in Our Stars came out, and one Sunday in January I picked this one off the shelf and escaped for the afternoon into it. I found it very similar in style to an Abundance of Katherines by the same author, I book I read last year. I enjoyed this one more, but still felt that the main character being given a "quirk" didn't flow well within the novel. In this case, it was a knowledge of people's last words, a subject which is really interesting, but again it just felt a little forced to keep mentioning them in the plot, as though trying to combine a reference book with fiction. I think because I find the last words interesting in their own right, it again felt like a distraction. The plot was about teenagers at a boarding school and was a coming-of-age novel in my mind. The chapters were numbered in terms of a countdown to an event, and I found this an engaging structure, which helped to keep the plot moving, without making it obvious what it was leading up to.
In February, I have a number of books I want to read. The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon has been suggested by Laura this time, in case people were interested in reading the same book as others taking part in the project. There will be a separate twitter chat, in addition to the normal one, for people who chose to read the book, and I was lucky enough to receive a copy through the giveaway Laura ran last month. That will definitely be on my February list, and there are plenty of others on the to-read list too.