Holiday Reads 2015

Posted: August 26, 2015 in Etc.
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Two weeks of flip flops and paella, family fun and mucho vino tinto also equated to mucho reading. Here are my unearthed treasures for all you book-lovers out there:


Doctor Sleep: Shining Book 2 (Stephen King)

Sufficiently different to The Shining but with a significant vein threading throughout (particularly in the denouement’s final throes…). King’s agnostic/deist leanings are overt here and add a value that many of today’s novels don’t. He’s brave enough to not buy into the “science proves we have no spiritual world” and good on him for that. The coda brought quite a lump to my throat. Nice mention of Charlie Manx too!


The Humans (Matt Haig)

A witty and insightful observation of humanity and all our foibles. When Andrew Martin’s body is assumed by an alien, his perception of our race and all its wonders and failings is an absolute delight. Although it determines a Godless universe, the story declares a horror at a world that might only be explained by mathematics without a Mathematician. And so Love, that undefinable wonder, proves that there is something more to life than what we can dissect into mere patterns and pathways. I know an Andrew Martin too, which made it all the more delightful.


The Sparrow (Mary Doria Russell)

This created and shaped an unintentional trilogy as I happened to read these three in succession. Each one discusses the existence and involvement of God in varied manner. The Sparrow’s greatest concern is in asking the question, “Where is God in suffering?” – particularly when there’s no one to blame. Russell defines the alien culture and etiquette exquisitely, and weaves the three acts (the evolution of a family, an interstellar mission and a culture clash denouement) through different eyes, and across years and systems, into a bold and philosophical tale.


Anno Dracula (Kim Newman)

A change of tack: a sequel-of-sorts to Dracula, one of my most read pieces of English literature. Where Elisabeth Kostova’s The Historian continued in a similar vein to Stoker’s remarkable original, here Kim Newman has created a mash-up that kneads Jack The Ripper, Jekyll and Hyde, the Holmes brothers and many more into the ongoing saga of Dracula and his political machinations. A great piece of light-hearted Victorian Gothic that even the Queen herself cannot avoid being swept up into.


Paper Towns (John Green)

John Green yet again pulls you into a fanciful tale of teens with old souls finding meaning and a place in the world. It’s a different beast altogether to The Fault In Our Stars (and that one destroyed me, tears et al), so don’t expect quite the same emotional pull, but they’re kids you think you’d like to have been (although no one ever really is) and they live lives you can only ever live between the words of a book like this. And that’s fine with me. One to linger in my thoughts for a bit longer (while TFiOS is unlikely to ever leave).


Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances (Neil Gaiman)

Myths, poetry, creepy tales, fairy stories, Dr Who and further musings. A fine collection to transport you elsewhere within mere moments. And having already bought Amy the illustrated The Sleeper And The Spindle, and read The Thing About Cassandra and Click-Clack The Rattlebag* online, these still delighted on second or third readings. (*Click-Clack is an exceptional creep-out)


The Unfortunate Adventures Of Tom Hillingthwaite (Andy Kind)

A window into the missional escapades of socially inept Tom, evangelist of Billy Graham levels (in his dreams) and loveable buffoon (in reality). Crammed with puns, film references and even a mention of Moore & Bolland’s “The Killing Joke” (nice one, Andy), this then caught me rather unawares and ended with an emotional sucker punch. Fab second novel after The Gig Delusion.


Mr.Mercedes (Stephen King)

Another Stephen King, this time wholly -natural with no super-. It’s a tense cat and mouse tale, told with King’s usual absorbing way with words. Sometimes, even his tone and digressions are enough to enjoy when he struggles to find a decent ending, but this one serves up a decently tense and efficient climax. Sets up a curious trio of heroes ready for another spin in Finders Keepers too. I’ve another Stephen King to buy then…


Fight Club (Chuck Palahniuk)

After having seen the film countless times it was high time I read the original source. As good as I’d hoped. Some differences, of course – particularly in the final throes – but this only goes to prove the wealth of talent Fincher displays in adapting this seminal novel. Also worthy of mention is the afterword. Best afterword I’ve ever read. It’s a rewarding read in itself.


Who’s Afraid Of Relativism: Community, Contingency, and Creaturehood (James K. A. Smith)

And one non-fiction to “balance” things a little. I’ve been reading it for a book group starting next month, and I might need a dictionary, and the philosophers on the Skype-in might well run rings around me with their epistemological tongue-twisters, but I have certainly enjoyed the read. It’s thrown many helpful questions into the air on the concept of truth and remembering the context of our foundational mindsets, which only serves us better. Looking forward to the discussions. Even if I don’t understand all their big words.


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