Jan's Summer Reading


What I've been reading...

Emma Donoghue - Room

Emma Donoghue - Room  This book almost made me put it down after the first few pages, it's that emotionally strong. It's told through the voice of 5-year-old Jack who has spent his entire life in captivity with his Ma, locked up in a tiny Room by a man who kidnapped Ma seven years ago up to keep as a slave. It's a very very small world in their Room and Jack telling about his existence is excruciating. But it's completely fascinating. I couldn't put it down. And it's very nicely realized. Sometimes it's difficult to interpret Jack's thoughts, shaped as they are by his specific limits of experience, but you always understand in the end. One to remember. Like a much darker Dog in the Night-time in a sense.

Emma Donoghue - Room in the bookshop

Chris Tsiolkas - The Slap

Chris Tsiolkas - The Slap  Very well written, cleverly constructed novel on suburban angst; this has already won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, The Australian Literary Society Gold Medal AND is on the Man Booker Prize 2010 longlist. At a barbecue on a summer lawn a man slaps a child who is not his and this starts off a series of events in the concerned families. The story is told from 8 points of view: eight quite different voices; young and old, male and female, pro and con, all carry the story forward. I found this intriguing and utterly captivating, although I thought perhaps some characteristics were surprisingly shared by very disparate people.... But do read, and be challenged.

Chris Tsiolkas - The Slap in the bookshop

Cory Doctorow - Little Brother

Cory Doctorow - Little BrotherVery exciting near-future teen orwellian novel about the controlling paranoid state and young people fighting it. An exciting well written critique of the Department of Homeland Security overreaching in its paranoia. I like the way Doctorow writes, he's a great 'ideas' author.

Cory Doctorow - Little Brother in the bookshop 

Tony Parsons - Men From the Boys

Tony Parsons - Men From the BoysThis is a sequel to Tony Parsons most famous book Man and Boy, although it absolutely stands well on its own. It's about Harry and Pat ten years on. Tony Parsons writes quite well about the trials and tribulations of the contemporary family, and I found it difficult to put aside. Good read.

Tony Parsons - Men From the Boys in the bookshop


Alan Glynn - Winterland

Alan Glynn - Winterland  Terrific political thriller set within the world of big business and politics in contemporary Dublin. Along with Stuart Neville's The Twelve this book was the biggest and best of Irish crime writing in 2009. I found it hard to put down and it also manages to raise good questions. Read.

Alan Glynn - Winterland in the bookshop 

Ava McCarthy - The Insider

Ava McCarthy - The InsiderWonderfully exciting thriller about an Irish female hacker somewhat in the Lisbet Salander mold. A real page-turner in the best sense. Great summer read. I smiled a lot when I read this, it's quite cleverly written.

Ava McCarthy in the bookshop 

Tom Dolby - The Trouble Boy

Tom Dolby - The Trouble BoyI didn't like this very much, it's very much a first novel. His second novel The Sixth Form was terrific, set in the prep school world of New England, but this did not give me much. This is about a young gay man trying to make it in New York. It's been told before, less vapidly too.

Tom Dolby - The Trouble Boy in the bookshop

Black & White by Lewis Shiner

Black & White by Lewis ShinerThis is a terrific novel about american race relations in the 60s and the fallout in one man's life. Michael Cooper comes back to his city of birth Durham, NC, when his father who is dying from lung cancer decides he wants to die there. The returns triggers events and secrets start to unfold. Beautifully written with strong characters this book poses interesting questions on identity and morals. This is the man we all should be reading instead of Messrs Foer and Eggers.

Black & White by Lewis Shiner in the bookshop


Richard Lange - This Wicked World

Richard Lange - This Wicked WOrldExcellent, well written, SoCal noir. Jimmy Boone tries very hard to do right, but his sense of justice brings him into situations he probably shouldn't be in. This is a great story of a broken hero battling to right wrongs. Very well written with nods to people like Beckett. Engaging.

Richard Lange - This Wicked World in the bookshop

Chris Binchy - Five Days Apart

Chris Binchy - Five Days ApartAm I the only one who likes Chris Binchy? I've read all four of his novels, and they are terrific novels about the male psyche. This one concerns a love triangle where the protagonists socially stronger best friend edges him out of the love of his life. A direct enough love story that kept me reading relentlessly. Spread the word.

Chris Binchy - Five Days Apart in the bookshop