Some books by people who aren’t me

I was going to talk about Project Snails, but that post is taking a while to write – appropriately, as you’ll see. So in the meantime I’ll talk about creative things by other people. I think I’ve earned that right after my unexpectedly on-topic first week of blogging. (Don’t get used to it.)

Being able to read for pleasure again is a breath of fresh air. Not that I didn’t enjoy a lot of the books I read for my degree, but I could never fully immerse myself in them; part of me was always standing a little to the side, wearing a lab coat and jotting down observations.

I don’t think I’ll ever entirely be rid of that side of me, but that’s okay. I was a terribly uncritical reader before university, and it’s good to pause and think about what you’re reading rather than just pass straight through it like a bored tourist wandering a museum out of a sense of obligation, taking in words/exhibits and forgetting them just as quickly. I think I’ve found a nice balance now.

Here are some books I’ve read since classes ended:

The Hunger Games cover. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Since it’s the big young adult thing at the moment, and I have an unhealthy love of dystopias, it seemed to make sense to read this. It has some very Harry Potter-esque characters (specifically Haymitch and Effie), and a few (thankfully vague) similarities to the novel I’ve been writing for years. Most of all, though, it reminds me of the creepingly delightful Wind on Fire trilogy by William Nicholson, which portrays an equally brutal world where just because you’re young and innocent doesn’t mean you won’t at some point find yourself being burned alive. Does it say bad things about me that I enjoy this kind of book? Probably. I guess that’s part of the scary thing: you’re always secretly thinking “I’d totally watch the actual Hunger Games if they were on”. No? Just me then? Oh dear.

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle cover. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I don’t really know how to talk about this one, since no framework I’ve tried to slot it into has really helped me make sense of it. I’m sure people who read a lot of post-post-modern books (or whatever level we’re at now) would scoff at me for my lack of understanding. But I don’t think you have to have studied English to appreciate it in these ways: it’s poetic, it’s evocative, it’s intriguing, it’s addictive, and it’s unlike almost everything else. In some ways it feels like dozens – if not hundreds – of strange intersecting short stories. If the part of your brain that asks awkward questions like “What’s going on? Is this real, or a dream? What was the point of that bit?” ever takes an evening off, that might be a good time to give this book a chance.

Crime in the Community cover. Crime in the Community by Cecilia Peartree

Full disclosure: this one was written by my mum. This means it’s hard to be objective, but I found it fun and surprising. It’s rather strange to venture into a world created by someone you think you know incredibly well, and find things there that it didn’t occur to you that they ever thought about. Along with things, of course, that seem completely in character, like frustration with authority figures and dysfunctional children (uh-oh). As well as a subtly unfolding mystery, this book is a catalogue of observations about people, many of them very funny. You can find it on the Kindle store for free, though it’s the first in a series, so be warned that it may act as a gateway drug to the world of Pitkirtly.

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