My worst kept secret

In the spirit of sharing more on this blog, I was thinking about what I would want to share with anyone who would be kind enough to read my blog. Then it hit me: favourite books.

An instant classic. I wonder if I can patent the idea?

Ok, so it’s not the most original blog in the world but it is something I’m passionate about and so much so that I could whip up a fairly quick blog on the topic. A lot of my reading lately has revolved around Fantasy novels but I’ve decided to take them out of this post so that I can focus specifically on them another time.

Maybe you’ve read one of my favourites already or find something new to add onto your To Read list (see five of mine below). Whatever the case, let me know! I would also love to hear your recommendations for different books I should be trying out!

Have Read

Favourites:

  1. The Five People you meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom

 In heaven, five people explain your life to you. Some you knew, others may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here?

This might be my favourite, reread a dozen times, how-could-you-not-have-read-this book of all time! As I have no preconceived notion of heaven or an afterlife, that made it pretty easy to accept this version of purgatory. Eddie was such a fantastic character and watching his journey from grumpy, lonely old man to someone that I cared about was magnificent. Albom is perhaps best known for his book Tuesday with Morrie but for me, that can’t stand up to The Five People you Meet in Heaven.

2. Mother Night – Kurt Vonnegut

Mother Night is a daring challenge to our moral sense. American Howard W. Campbell, Jr., a spy during World War II, is now on trial in Israel as a Nazi war criminal. But is he really guilty? In this brilliant book rife with true gallows humor, Vonnegut turns black and white into a chilling shade of grey with a verdict that will haunt us all.

I picked up Mother Night in 2010 on a whim after over hearing a sales assistant recommend it to another customer (who left it!) at my local bookshop. Since then I have picked up every Kurt Vonnegut story I find. I have a particular interest in Nazi Germany and love a good book on the topic. Mix that with Vonnegut’s sense of humour and you have yourself a winner.

3. The Death of Lomond Friel – Sue Peebles

When Rosie, a successful radio presenter, hears that her father has had a stroke, her life is thrown into disarray and she finds herself making reckless decisions that make little sense to those around her. As she strives towards building some kind of future for herself and her father, he quietly plots his own death . . .

Whilst it was wonderful to see familiar locations in Scotland appear in this book, Peebles’ story is so much more than just that. I’ve never been though an experience like that nor do I know anyone like the characters but they pulled me in from the start. This was one of the few books I have read where I tell the characters off for their behaviour then turn the page and burst out laughing. I am bursting at the thought of getting my hands on Peebles’ next novel: Snake Road (though I suspect I’ll be waiting until the price drops a little).

To Read

  • The Testament of Gideon Mack – James Robertson

For Gideon Mack, faithless minister, unfaithful husband and troubled soul, the existence of God, let alone the Devil, is no more credible than that of ghosts or fairies. Until the day he falls into a gorge and is rescued by someone who might just be Satan himself.

Mack’s testament is a compelling blend of memoir, legend, history and, quite probably, madness and recounts one man’s emotional crisis, disappearance, resurrection and death. It also transports you into an utterly mesmerising exploration of the very nature of belief

  • The Man Who Forgot his Wife – John O’Farrell

Lots of husbands forget things: they forget that their wife had an important meeting that morning; they forget to pick up the dry cleaning; some of them even forget their wedding anniversary.

But Vaughan has forgotten he even has a wife. Her name, her face, their history together, everything she has ever told him, everything he has said to her – it has all gone, mysteriously wiped in one catastrophic moment of memory loss. And now he has rediscovered her – only to find out that they are getting divorced.

  • The Trial – Franz Kafka

‘Somebody must have laid false information against Josef K., for he was arrested one morning without having done anything wrong.’ From this first sentence onwards, Josef K. is on trial for his right to exist. Once arrested, he is released, but must report to court on a regular basis – an event that proves maddening, as nothing is ever resolved. As he grows more uncertain of his fate, his personal life – including work at a bank and his relations with his landlady and a young woman who lives next door – becomes increasingly unpredictable. As K. tries to gain control, he succeeds only in accelerating his own excruciating downward spiral.

  • All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque

In 1914 a room full of German schoolboys, fresh-faced and idealistic, are goaded by their schoolmaster to troop off to the ‘glorious war’. With the fire and patriotism of youth they sign up. What follows is the moving story of a young ‘unknown soldier’ experiencing the horror and disillusionment of life in the trenches.

  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

This brutal, shattering glimpse of the fate of millions of Russians under Stalin shook Russia and shocked the world when it first appeared. Discover the importance of a piece of bread or an extra bowl of soup, the incredible luxury of a book, the ingenious possibilities of a nail, a piece of string or a single match in a world where survival is all. Here safety, warmth and food are the first objectives. Reading it, you enter a world of incarceration, brutality, hard manual labour and freezing cold – and participate in the struggle of men to survive both the terrible rigours of nature and the inhumanity of the system that defines their conditions of life.

(book descriptions from Amazon and Goodreads)

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4 thoughts on “My worst kept secret

  1. The Five People You Meet in Heaven is by far one of the best books I’ve ever read, as well. I thought it quite odd at first, but then by the end of it, I was crying and was so in love with the main character that I immediately went and recommended the book to everyone I knew.

    • My heart was breaking for Eddie but the end and I swear I tear up every time I reread the part with Marguerite.

      I would definitely recommend his other novel: For One More Day. It was great but Five People you Meet in Heaven is my favourite (though I can’t tell if it’s because I read it first or not. Both stories are well-worth a read).

  2. There are several books on here that have piqued my interest. Reading is one of my absolute favorite things to do and I will add your recommendations to my must-read list!

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