It’s been a little while since I took part in a book tag so many thanks to Ashley over at Books Are 42 for tagging me in this one, originally created by The Incessant Bookworm! Who, after all, doesn’t love a good cup of tea and some related afternoon-tea nibbles, especially if you can curl up with a good book whilst partaking of it?
Finger Sandwiches: A Book You Savoured Every Minute Of
I absolutely loved every moment of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. With its combination of old-school glamour and intrigue and its tender examination of life-long love and devotion, it was a novel that absolutely lived up to the hype and had me hooked from first page to last.
Scones: A Book Everyone Should Own
A good dictionary! Yes, I know that’s something of a dull answer – and probably demonstrates the extent of my word-nerdery – but tastes in fiction and non-fiction vary and I genuinely do think that the benefits of a dictionary are under-rated. One of the (many) benefits of reading is an improved vocabulary and I enjoy being able to look up the meaning of new or unfamiliar words that I read.
As a PhD student and lecturer, I’m also very aware of how easy it is to fall prey to malapropisms if you’re not careful. English is a fascinating language but there are many ‘confusables’ (there/their/they’re being just a few of them) so a dictionary – and a good, user-friendly grammar guide such as Dryer’s English or Eats, Shoots and Leaves – are invaluable.
Biscuits: A Book that Can be Finished in One Sitting
I read Claire Keegan’s masterful Small Things Like These in one sitting way back in January and still haven’t found the words to write up a full review. It’s a wonderful novel of quiet heroism and tenderness that with a resonance that belies its slender 128 pages.
In an Irish town in 1985, coal and timber merchant Bill Furlong is preparing for Christmas: his busiest season. As Bill does his rounds, the reader gets a glimpse into this small community and, gradually, we begin to see the silences that lie at the heart of a town in thrall to – and controlled by – the Church.
Beautifully written and deeply touching, Small Things Like These is one of those novellas you need to curl up with and lose yourself in, and that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.
Patisserie: A Book that is Light and Easy to Read
If I’m in a reading slump, I usually find myself returning to Agatha Christie. Her ingenious plotting never fails to keep the pages turning whilst spending time with Poirot or Miss Marple invariably feels like spending time with an old friend.
I’ve been re-reading the Poirot books in order via audiobook and have just finished listening to Death in the Clouds. They’re brilliantly narrated by Hugh Fraser (who played Captain Hastings in the ITV adaptation), with some titles also available narrated by David Suchet and Kenneth Branagh, both of whom have played Poirot to much acclaim.
I also find the British Library Crime Classics series to be similarly easy and enjoyable reads. John Bude’s series featuring Superintendent Meredith – which begins with The Lake District Murder – has become a firm favourite whilst I’ve enjoyed the short story collections Murder by the Book: Bibliophile Mysteries and Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries, both edited by Martin Edwards.
Showstopper: A Book that Blew You Away
I don’t often get ‘blown away’ by books but I raved about both Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers and Piranesi by Susanna Clarke once I’d finished them, and have since urged copies of both onto numerous friends and relations.
Set in a fantastic House and featuring an unforgettable protagonist Piranesi, is a seemingly simple tale that becomes increasingly fantastical. Small Pleasures, by contrast, begins with a fantastical tale that, once you dig beneath the surface, is a relatively simple story of love, longing, and – yes – the titular small pleasures.
Both novels are beautifully written and immersive experiences that, although they tell their tales simply, do so with great warmth and with a tenderness that captures the human experience on the page.
Tea: A Heart-warming Classic
J R R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is my go-to classic novel and I’ve written several times on the blog about why I love it so. For the sake of variety, therefore, I will suggest another classic here.
I’ve just finished reading George Eliot’s Middlemarch for the first time and I absolutely adored it. Don’t be put off by its length (or its preoccupation with the 1832 Reform Bill). Instead focus on Eliot’s blisteringly realistic portrait of provincial life in all its varied and messy glory.
Doomed romances, grasping relatives, hoary old misers, damaging secrets, warm-hearted fathers, impoverished clergymen: all of them jump out of the pages of Middlemarch, coming alive thanks to Eliot’s attention to detail and biting wit. Henry James described Middlemarch as a ‘treasure-house of detail’ while Virginia Woolf famously endorsed George Eliot’s masterpiece as ‘one of the few English novels written for grown-up people’: I concur with both.
and anyone else who’d like to take part! If you do decide to give the tag ago, please tag me in your posts so I can see your responses – and don’t forget to credit the tag creator too!
All of the books mentioned today can be purchased from all good booksellers and online retailers.
If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green Bookshop, Sam Read Booksellers, Book-ish, Scarthin Books, and Berts Books.
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