The books you hear about on Instagram and are actually...
Not your cup of tea
- Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (Faber&Faber) - I tried, I read the whole book (and even got Rooney's second book, Normal People), enjoyed certain bits and almost wanted to kill the main characters a couple pages later. Rooney has a brilliant way of using language, knows how to portray her characters, and she is not afraid to dive into (for Ireland) disputed topics such as abortion and homosexuality. I salute her for all of that, yet I was not as smitten as everyone else when her book got published.
- Idiot by Elif Batuman (Penguin) - I am going to be honest. I love the cover of the book. And when I read the synopsis (a story about Selin, starting her freshman year at Harvard in 1995, studying literature when there was no social media and email was still something brand new), I thought that I found my 'new favourite one'. I didn't. Maybe I just came across it at a wrong time, but the story was slow and dragging on, the main character not interesting enough... I had to put it down so maybe the pace picks up after the first fifty pages, but I guess I will never find that out.
- Trilogy by Rachel Cusk (Faber&Faber) - In Outline, Transit and Kudos, the nameless heroine gradually reveals her story and opinions through narratives of other people she encounters in various situations (being on a plane, teaching a class, getting a haircut, taking a tour, you name it). The pace is slow and melancholic, sometimes you feel like you desperately want to know more, sometimes you couldn't care less about certain characters. And then the book is over and you are not exactly sure what has just happened. I am still not sure how to categorise my reading experience. But maybe, that's exactly the point here...
- Books Autumn and Winter by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton) - Everyone was talking about Smith's Autumn when it got published in Britain. So of course that I wanted to know more! It poignantly reflects on the freshness of Brexit vote results and Trump's election, while narrating about love and loss. I feel like you need to be in a specific mindset to grasp the full richness of Smith's writing as sometimes I was just unable to simply process her sentences.
- Anything by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (notably her book Half of a Yellow Sun, 4th Estate) - I could be talking about my love for Adichie over and over (and here are some of my previous reviews of her book), so let me keep it short. If you want to read a story that will stay with you, that you will want to read over and over again, that will make you cry and laugh, you will get it all in Adichie's books.
- Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng - This. Book! You know that the 16-year-old daughter of a mixed-raced Chinese-American married couple is dead. You know it from the very first sentence. But why, why? This question lingers over the book as the tragic story of people with unfulfilled hopes and dreams slowly unravels and rushes you to the breath-taking final revelation. If you had to add one book from this article to your reading list, I can strongly recommend this one!