Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Top 5 general fiction reads

List by Tosca

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."
- Charles W. Eliot

Greetings from New Orleans! As they say in the Vieux Carre (French Quarter), how y'all doin'? Our post pic today is totally unrelated to books and all about my holiday because, hey, I can, and is of a saxophonist busking down on the corner of Bourbon Street and Canal Street that I took about 2am the night we arrived. One of the many things I heart about this place. Here's a tip: never do Bourbon Street at that hour of the morning, the place really isn't at her best at that hour and, if you're a newcomer to the city (I'm not, but sibling and friend are) the smell of booze and horse manure can be a little bit much on the olfactory senses. That aside, the people, the cultures, the music, the sights, the food (dear goshness, the food - I've had gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, alligator bites, beignets mmmm) I LOVE IT HERE :)

Enough waffling from me. Back to the pleasure of reading! Read an opinion piece over at BookRiot this morning that was more than worth the read: "There's never been a better time to be a reader." Jeff talks about how even though the publishing industry is experiencing challenging times, it is, in fact, a fantastic time for readers. A couple sentences in particular make me agree: "That’s not to say we live in the best of all possible readerly worlds, just that this is the best one we’ve ever seen. Many of the forces straining the traditional book business are the same forces creating unheard-of reading possibilities." For the first time in a long time we have more choice than ever before. It's not all hearts and flowers, though. Jeff readily admits that with more choice comes new technologies that change quickly, and the issue of which particular service/device/platform to use changes just as quickly also. It's a really solid piece, but don't take my word for it - check it out yourself :) Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if you agree/disagree.

Today's post is a very simple one (in contrast to my usual longwinded, rambly style intro - sorry), and is made up of our most requested general fiction reads!

Me before you / JoJo Moyes
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

The best of me / Nicholas Sparks
This is the story of two small-town former high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks. Now middle-aged, they have taken wildly divergent paths, but neither has lived the life they imagined, and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever altered their world. When they are both called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who once gave them shelter, they will be forced to confront the choices each has made, and ask whether love can truly rewrite the past.

Reviewer comment:
  • "Sparks's ability to capture the truths of this affair makes the story both heartfelt and heartbreaking. It's quite possibly his best work in years." (Publishers Weekly)

  • One day / David Nicholls
    "I can imagine you at forty,' she said, a hint of malice in her voice. 'I can picture it right now.' He smiled without opening his eyes. 'Go on then.' 15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows? Twenty years, two people, one day. Galaxy National Book Award Winner, 2010.

    Reviewer comment:
  • "Nicholls is a glib, clever writer, and while the formulaic feel and maudlin ending aren't ideal for a book, they'll play in the multiplex." (Publishers Weekly)
  • "This tale of youthful dreams coming true and perhaps not being so dreamy is written with great verve and charm, reminiscent of the works of Mike Gayle. A coming-of-age story for all of us who might still be wondering what we want to be when we grow up." (Library Journal)
  • "Nicholls writes so effortlessly and with so much wit and wisdom that he seems poised to earn the same recognition here that he currently enjoys in the UK." (Booklist)

    The sense of an ending / Julian Barnes
    Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is in middle age. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove. Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2011.

    Reviewer comment:
  • "Despite its focus on the blindness of youth and the passage of time, Barnes's book is entirely unpretentious. From the haunting images of its first pages to the surprising and wrenching finale, the novel carries readers with sensitivity and wisdom through the agony of lost time." (Publishers Weekly)
  • "Barnes' sublimely modulated and profoundly disquieting tale of delusion, loss, and remorse ends devastatingly with a crescendo twist." Booklist

  • The help / Kathryn Stockett
    Limited and persecuted by racial divides in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, three women, including an African-American maid, her sassy and chronically unemployed friend, and a recently graduated white woman, team up for a clandestine project.

    Reviewer comment:
  • "Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it." (Publishers Weekly)
  • " Is this an easy book to read? No, but it is surely worth reading. It may even stir things up as readers in Jackson and beyond question their own discrimination and intolerance in the past and present." (Library Journal)
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