On top of her favourite reads, Kerry keeps a Big Fat Geek Spreadsheet of all the books she reads each month, complete with a 5 star system (5 being best, 0 being pants). She thought she’d share it with you because you can never have too many lists. Warning: there might be a few spoilers here.
1. The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
It’s rare that I re-read books. I might do it a handful of times in my life. The few I have re-read, I remember clearly, loving all over again. They include: A Prayer for Owen Meany, Midnight’s Children and The Heart is a Lonely Heart, all books in my top ten. Pride and Prejudice is no doubt in there too, if I go back far enough. I probably wouldn’t have re-read The White Tiger, but my lovely sister-in-law bought me a copy for World Book Day this year, not realising that I’d read it before. I’m so glad she did because it was an utter pleasure. Back in 2009 I gave it 4 stars. This year I’m giving it 5. It was fantastic from end to end. This takes the form of a series of letters written to the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao from Balram Halwai, a villager from “The Darkness” who comes to the city to make a living and a name for himself. It’s about the (corrupt) class system in India, how the rich abuse the poor, and how the poor get stuck in the Rooster Coop. Only our hero doesn’t. Admittedly he has to slit his boss’ throat to get ahead but that is only part of the picture. The fact that he escapes his lot in life feels like a triumph. It may come at a cost, but I felt like punching the air in triumph when he gets his revenge. Read it. Or re-read it. You won’t regret it.
February 2017- April 2017
1. Best of The Short Story: Volume 2, edited by Kerry Barner
It would be vain of me to give myself 5 stars, so I’m leaving it blank for the moment. You, readers, can decide. It is due to be published in 2017 but that is how I spent my evenings between February and April 2017. It was a very enjoyable exercise revisiting those stories again, and reconnecting with the authors.
1. Giving up the Ghost: A memoir, Hilary Mantel
For those of you that follow my Books Read page, you will know how much I love Hilary Mantel’s writing. ‘Ilary, as her family called her, is an odd fish and this is no ordinary memoir. True, she does cover her life, but not in strict linear form. Her early life was far from usual though. Her mother lived in a menage a trois with husband and lover Jack until the husband, ‘Ilary’s father, melts out of the picture and we are left with Jack, her stepfather, as head of the household. They move 8 miles away into Cheshire to escape the scandal but gossip soon follows them. Mantel marries young, divorces and then remarries the same man some years later. Having lived in Africa and the Middle East, she is far more widely travelled than I expected. She goes into length about her illness, not in a self-pitying way but she is highly critical of the doctors and psychiatrists who continued to misdiagnose her symptoms for many years. She talks, among other things, of her childlessness, her fluctuating weight due to the pills she’s given, and at the end of the book I feel I have come face to face with a remarkably smart woman. I doubt she’d be instantly likeable but with a brain like hers I would love to get to know her more.