Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

This year I’m aiming to read 20 books – we’re already in June and I still have 12 to go.

So far I’ve read: 
One Day by David Nicholls – I loved this and all the references to 80s and 90s music and culture… and then came the end (if you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about). I couldn’t believe the author would choose to end such a book in such a way. The story’s about two people who meet on their last day of university in Edinburgh – and each chapter is set in a different year but on that same date. Sometimes it’s written from Dexter’s point of view, sometimes from Emma’s. Sometimes they’re together, sometimes they’re barely speaking… Their relationship is so intriguing that you have to keep on reading. In spite of the end, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Shogun by James Clavell – This took me about six weeks to read, which is a really long time for me. I know it’s a mighty tome but because I was reading it on my Kindle it didn’t feel heavy at all. The amount of research that must have gone into writing this book fills me with awe. John Blackthorne is shipwrecked on the Japanese coast in the 16th century and he has to get used to the Japanese way of life – learn their customs and language, politics, etc. It has everything in it – action, drama, mystery, love. And I’ve heard that Clavell’s other books (Gai Jin, Noble House, etc) are very similar – they’re all on my to-read list. 
The Case of the Missing Boyfriend by Nick Alexander – After reading the all-absorbing Shogun, I needed something light. The title is self-explanatory – a woman in her late 30s, has a good job, good friends and good lifestyle – apart from not having a boyfriend (no, I didn’t write it). I finally realised I was reading utter nonsense when CC, the main character, heads to the south of France with an older man she meets on a plane (who it turns out gets turned on by balloons – yes, really), and he tells her that she should be exhausted at 8pm because it was 1am in New York. Er. No. Would it have killed the author to do some research and figure out that New York is actually *behind* in time zones?? I can’t remember but I think this was a free download for the Kindle. Enough said. 
The Snowman by Jo Nesbo – This was recommended to me by my colleague Laura (she has her own book review blog – it’s worth checking out as she goes into much more depth than I do). She was right – I couldn’t put this down. What is it about Scandinavia that produces such great crime/thriller writers? The only thing I’d have to say about this book is don’t read it night when you’re home alone – I was terrified. Remember that episode of Friends where Joey puts the book in the freezer because he’s so scared? That was (almost) me when I read this book. 
Beautiful Maria of My Soul by Oscar Hijuelos – Hijuelos is one of my all-time favourite writers – he turns the life of an ordinary person into poetry. If you’ve read or seen The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, this novel is about the ‘Bella Maria’ that Nestor Castillo sings about in the earlier book. It was interesting – Nestor portrays her as an angel and puts her on a pedestal, but in this book the reader learns what she’s really about. I look forward to Hijuelos’ books as much as I look forward to the next Rohinton Mistry – and his books stay with you long after you’ve finished them. 
Spying in High Heels/Killer in High Heels by Gemma Halliday – Not the usual books I would go for, but I thought I’d read something light after learning the truth about Maria. Again, I think Spying… was a free download for the Kindle. It was entertaining – and funny. The only reason I bought the second one was because I wanted to see if Maddie would hook up with the sexy cop! Anyway, I believe there’s a third and a fourth (maybe more?) in the series, but I had to draw the line after the second.
Sugar & Spice by Saffina Desforges – I think this is only available in Kindle format but it was a gripping thriller set in the UK. A child fails to return home and turns up a few days later in a canal. The police think they’ve found the right person, but clearly they haven’t. I believe the characters are based on real-life studies – which actually makes the book very disturbing. I read a review that said ‘This is a novel that every parent should read’ – but I disagree. I think if parents want to never sleep again, then read this. 

So, 12 more books to go this year – on my list so far are:

Jenny Lopez Has a Bad Week by Lindsey Kelk – yes, I know this was going to be trashy (Update: yes, it was total trash)
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen – I’ve been promised this is amazing (Update: beautiful writing, vile characters)
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett – sitting on my shelf since November 2010 but just too heavy to carry around 
The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi (Update: disappointing)
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo – have never even seen the stage version…

Update: I only got to 19 books in 2011, but hoping for 20 in 2012. Here are some more reviews:
Naked in Death
The Help
Cut Short
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Life and Laughing

Any other suggestions? What are you reading at the moment?

One thought on “20 books in 2011

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