It’s a cold, wet Sunday… the perfect opportunity to look back on what I’ve read so far in 2019! I’ve signed up again for the Goodreads Reading Challenge, with a target of 40 books, and it tells me that the 13 I’ve read to date puts me slightly ahead of schedule. Hmmm. It’s quite a mixed bag so far this year, with a mélange of current and classic fiction, a sprinkling of non-fiction and some audiobooks thrown in for good measure.
I started 2019 with Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which I really enjoyed. Obama’s story is completely different from my own, but many of her comments resonated with me, including this one on change:
“Life was teaching me that progress and change happen slowly. Not in two years, four years, or even a lifetime. We were planting seeds of change, the fruit of which we might never see. We had to be patient.”
Anyone who knows me well will understand why I’d identify with that sentiment!
Next up was The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which I’d been intending to read for some time. What a beautiful book – I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but if you haven’t already done so, read it!
Rob Galbraith (AKA JK Rowling) was next with Lethal White. I always enjoy a good complex plot, and while this wouldn’t necessarily be on my absolute must-read list, it didn’t disappoint. Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike is a compelling creation, and this book, while big, has much to recommend it.
Book #4 was Melmoth, by Sarah Perry. I had really loved The Essex Serpent, and was looking forward to Perry’s next novel, albeit with some trepidation, as the reviews suggested that it wasn’t an easy read. And it wasn’t, but I loved it! Take my advice though – don’t stay up late at night reading it on your own…
Just finished #Melmoth by @SarahGPerry which I loved… modern Gothic? Creepy enough that I was sorry I stayed downstairs reading it late at night! On to a lighter mystery story next… #Currentlyreading #ReadWomen pic.twitter.com/4mdpKpNPXh
— Tracey Kennedy (@Tracey_Cork) February 15, 2019
My next physical book was Sophie Hannah’s latest Poirot novel, The Mystery of Three Quarters, and in tandem with this, I was also listening to Agatha Christie’s classic Murder on the Orient Express, a really good-quality version on Audible featuring Tom Conti, Sophie Okonedo and Eddie Marsan. Juxtaposing the two mainly serves to highlight Christie’s mastery, but if you’re a fan, Sophie Hannah does a good job and I’ve enjoyed her homages so far.
My second autobiography of the year was Cora Staunton’s Game Changer, ghost-written by the excellent Mary White. Cora’s story is a fascinating one, and we certainly get an insight into her complex character in this honest account of one of Ireland’s greatest sportspeople. I look forward to following her career into the future, and also to reading the stories of more of our amazing sportswomen over the next few years!
On the audio side, I listed to Adam M. Grant’s fascinating Power Moves (if you’ve ever faced adversity in your life, Option B by Grant and Sheryl Sandberg is well worth a read), and also to Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz. I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, and this was a reasonably good read, but it’s amazing what can annoy you in a story sometimes… Inspector Athelney Jones of The Sign of the Four is a key character in Moriarty, but I’ve always taken his name to be a double-barrelled surname used in the same way as Gregson or Lestrage in the Holmes stories, while Horowitz takes the ‘Athelney’ part as being his first name. Petty, I know, but it upset me!
I always watch out for Louise O’Neill’s recommendations in her Irish Examiner column, and Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak was one of those. Reader, I loved this book – my favourite of the year so far. It tells the story of a family cooped up together over Christmas due to a quarantine situation, and it is really wonderful – when the twist comes, you definitely won’t expect it! Five stars.
The Wych Elm by Tana French was next, and despite excellent reviews and lots of publicity, I found it underwhelming. I know many of you would love it, so I’m not saying don’t read it, but neither the characters nor the story itself really gripped me. Legacy – What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About the Business of Life by James Kerr had been hanging around on my bookshelves for a while, and though it was a fascinating read, I wish I had come across it when it was first published in 2013 as many of the ideas in it were no longer new to me. My most recent read was The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol, and again, I didn’t absolutely love this. I had figured out the mystery long before the end (and believe me, I’m usually slow with these things), but it’s a nice story with interesting characters.
Currently, I’m reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, which I’m loving, and I’m also listening to the epic Sherlock Holmes – The Definitive Collection on Audible (in the car and on my walks!), narrated by Stephen Fry (aside – I think Stephen Fry could make reading the phonebook sound interesting).
Here’s my current to-read pile – this should keep me going for a while!
Let me know if you’ve read any of these, or if you have any recommendations for me please!
*I’ve linked to Dubray Books for most of my recommendations here, simply because I ordered online from them last year and got brilliant service, but ideally, we should all try to support our local independent booksellers when possible. If you’re in Cork, Vibes and Scribes is brilliant and also has a huge used-book selection, while Midleton Books is a really lovely local bookshop.