Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Tuesday Titles 176..

With booksellers such as Waterstone's reporting this week that their sales have increased by 400%, it really does seem that people are using their newfound social distancing time to work their way through their TBR piles.

I'd seen this 2020 reading challenge doing the rounds from Whitney at The Unread Shelf and whilst it had intrigued me, I'd spent the start of 2020 thinking I would try to shy away from putting more and more pressure on myself to partake in challenges. {I spent 2019 working my way through some of my shoe collection to share a pair each day for #365daysofirregularchoice and towards the end, it definitely started to feel more like a chore than a fun thing to be a part of and I'd kind of figured that this type of challenge was not for me. I also failed to complete last year's #2019makenine list of sewing projects and even found myself feeling guilty when I devoted any of my time to making something which wasn't on my "approved" list from the challenge.}

But then, a week or so ago, things changed across our country and suddenly a lot of the freedom we spend our lives taking for granted was stripped away from us. For good reason, sure, but it can all feel a little stifling nonetheless.

And now, I've found myself reading a lot more - partly in place of sleep - but a lot of the time just for the enjoyment of it. Here are a few books I finished this week and some brief thoughts. I might adopt the reading challenge Whitney has set.

Saving Missy: Beth Morrey
So, a teeny bit confusing here, but by the time the proof for this one arrived with me, it was called Saving Missy, which I think is the title it's now being marketed with. Centring on Missy Carmichael, an elderly lady who is struggling with loneliness. I found this one a little bit too "100 Year Old Man.." levels of out there* but otherwise a fairly uplifting tale about the fact that friendship can spring up just about anywhere. 
(*I think I'm about the only person in the world who found that book irksome, and just struggled a little to believe that this 79 year old lady was likely to be fit and well enough to have done a lot of these things). 
A sweet book and I didn't roll my eyes *too* much at the way things turned out. 

The Cancer Ladies’ Running Club: Josie Lloyd
Dubbed to be the feel-good read of the summer, I must admit this one was in part the fluffy chick-lit I'd expected, whilst at the same time throwing in a couple of other elements of intrigue. Kinda. I enjoyed the formation of the friendships in the running club, between Keira, Tamsin, Sian and Amma; four ladies who have cancer diagnoses in common. I completely relate to the struggle that is pushing oneself to run. We see some of Keira's other struggles come to light as well: the strained relationship with her husband, the way in which her business seems to be slipping away from her. I found that storyline a little too predictable, if I'm honest. From the very first mention of her colleagues in the shop, it was clear what was going to happen there and I wasn't surprised. I think that the main focus of the story could have been the running group and the cancer treatment and that would have been enough, but as we've come to expect from this genre, all loose ends are tied up in the final chapter and all main characters get a happy ending. Read this if you fancy an escape from reality (I was going to say on holiday, by the pool, but I guess that's quite unlikely in our current circumstances).

Glass Hotel
The Glass Hotel: Emily St. John Mandel
OK, so I know we may only be one quarter of the way through, but my goodness this is my best book of 2020 so far. Also, I may be the only person who neither heard of nor read Station Eleven, so I can't make a comparison there, but I have to say I was absolutely hooked from the moment I started reading The Glass Hotel. To begin with, the snippets of various characters' lives seem random, but as we began to move between times and places, it becomes apparent that the titular glass hotel is the crossroads for so many of these important characters to collide. I found the writing had an almost dreamlike style to it and I personally liked that feeling of floating through the lives of the people mentioned. A couple of big events happen, but the book spends so much of it's time leading up to these things (the main one, although hinted at, doesn't even happen until close to the end and therefore isn't really dwelt on as much as I'd expected from the synopsis) and the main focus remains on the lives of the characters and how each of their tiny, insignificant actions can have a much larger ripple effect on so many others. 

Read anything good lately?