What I'm reading...

The first blog for our website. Here’s where we’ll post bits of news, random views, book reviews and other things that rhyme with ooze…

I’m hoping there’ll be ongoing ‘what I’m reading’ posts where members can share their reading diary and hopefully inspire people to pick up a book that perhaps they mightn’t have read otherwise. I’ll try to set up a form you can use to submit a post, but in the meantime email us to let us know what you are or have been reading, what you thought of the book(s) and what you’re looking forward to reading next.

Here’s a couple to start us off:

Lucy, Shop Volunteer. Runs the Manchester Book Club.

​I am just about to start Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Froer; one of my choices for book club this month - so no pressure there then! I’ve been anxious to start this one for a while as it got great reviews when it came out. Following his father’s death in the 9/11 World Trade Centre attacks, nine-year-old Oskar Schell is catapulted into a broad, sweeping adventure across New York and through space and time to solve the mystery of a key he finds in his father’s closet. I love the idea of a well-written child narrator and I have wild hopes for the New York I fell in love with reading Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch so here’s hoping!
Interspersed with my fiction reading (I’m a fiction gal at heart) and rather topically given recent events, I’m also ploughing through Making Sense of the Troubles by academics David McKittrick and David McVea. For book club last year, we read Eureka Street by Robert McLiam Wilson. It is an awesome portrayal of two friends living in 1990s Belfast that, although hugely entertaining and thought-provoking, left me feeling appalled at my scant understanding of the Northern Ireland conflict. Following a friend’s recommendation, I have been reading chunks of Making Sense between other books over the past few months and it is excellent; an engaging, thorough study that examines the conflicts from day dot but that is also written in clear, accessible English. If this is a topic for you then I would highly recommend it.

​Steve, Bookshop Manager.

I’ve been on a bit of a book reading binge recently, after a visit to Hay on Wye and its fabulous bookshops. I brought back with me a bag full of Hard Case Crime pulp noir style reads, including Donald Westlake, Laurence Block and Gregory MacDonald among others. I love hard-boiled crime with snappy dialogue that isn’t scared to use humour and I devoured these almost in one sitting. Glorious. I also bought and read The History of Bees by Maja Lunde, a dystopian story that flits backwards and forwards through the years and is about our relationship with nature and each other. Fantastic.

I was a bit late to Kate Atkinson’s Transcription, but I enjoyed it immensely. It’s an espionage/cold war story that is almost politely told but gripping - for me a bit like listening to Terry Riley’s In C. It’s funny, or witty, and very satisfying to get stuck in to.

Peter Carey’s A Long Way from Home has just been gobbled up too and while there is lots to admire, I sometimes found myself annoyed by the characters in a ‘don’t do that you idiot’ kind of way. The message of the book is important, although I won’t tell you what it is exactly, so if you fancy learning about the politics of Aboriginal oppression, around Australia road race and having a chuckle at the same time, it’s well worth a read.

I always have an audiobook on the go for when I’m walking our dog and just recently I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to William Boyd’s Love is Blind and Restless both of which are great stories and the narration is superb. Now listening to a fun Donald Westlake crime caper, Dancing Aztecs.

Next up to read is a new one from David DowningDiary of a Dead Man on Leave, an old one by Penelope Fitzgerald, The Beginning of Spring. I’m also determined to tackle, I’ve been putting it off for about a month, Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.