Sunday, 29 April 2012

That's my Kindle in the fetching turquoise stripey case
I wrote earlier in the year about my decision to take part in the Eclectic Reader Challenge and the reasons behind this. Several months have passed and I admit I haven’t made huge inroads into my list of titles. Which is peculiar, because I always have a book on the go. In fact, all I seem to have done is change the list a bit, and not in a making-it-easier way. It now looks like this.


The Murder Wall (Mari Hannah)
Me Before You (JoJo Moyes)

Deathwatch (Nicola Morgan) and Pure (Julianna Baggott)
A Game of Thrones (George RR Martin) or The Passage (Justin Cronin)
Science Fiction
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Philip K Dick)
Bluestockings (Jane Robinson)

The Odessa File (Frederick Forsyth)
Great Expectations (Dickens)
My favourite genre

I have already written about some of my initial choices, but here’s how I filled in most of the gaps.

A Twitter friend, Rebecca Bradley, recommended Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You as an excellent example of a modern romantic novel, and the Amazon reviews back this up. This is a genre I never knowingly read, but at least I’m consistent: I don’t watch romantic movies either.

I thought I was on firm ground when I chose Deathwatch by Nicola Morgan as my YA read (a genre which didn’t exist when I was growing up). I’m an admirer of Nicola’s no-nonsense approach to getting published, and it was she who persuaded me to sign up for Twitter. However, when I was deciding whether to read the Berwick Book Group’s April choice, Pure by Andrew Miller, I came across a book of the same name by Julianna Baggott which sounded much more tempting than Miller's. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where many of those who survived ‘the Detonation’ have to live with whatever they were touching at that moment fused to them, be it a toy, a chair or even another person. Those images alone made me load this book on to my Kindle. So I'll be reading two YA novels.

What is it about fantasy novels that they have to be so huge? Here again I have two candidates, but I doubt I’ll be able to manage them both this year. A Game of Thrones (780 pages) was chosen because my husband loves the TV serialisation and I thought I might persuade him to put down his WW2 non-fiction and read it after me. Then I saw a review of The Passage (765 pages) and it sounded too interesting to ignore. I might have to resort to eenie-meenie-minee-mo.

The recent rumpus about TV reviewer AA Gill being mean to Professor Mary Beard helped me make my non-fiction choice. I read a profile of her which said she used to parody the image of female intellectuals by wearing blue stockings. This reminded me that I had bought myself Bluestockings, which explored the fight for women to get a university education back in the days when ‘doctors warned that if women studied too hard their wombs would wither and die’. I was especially pleased to have chosen this book: as I took it down from the shelf a £20 note fell out, a Christmas gift from an aunt.

Finally, I’ve plumped for The Odessa File to fill the thriller slot, in honour of Frederick Forsyth’s appearance at this year’s CrimeFest in May. I have never read any of his work before, although I’m a big fan of some of the film adaptations. It’s not often I watch a film and read the book afterwards, so this will be doubly interesting.

So that leaves literary, historical and horror fiction, and this is where YOU come in. If you have any favourites in those genres, please let me know in the comments below or tweet me @JanetOkane (I’ve come to realise that unfortunately some folk have problems leaving comments on Blogger blogs).

I promise to make my reading selections based on your recommendations!


  1. Hi Janet. For historical fiction I would recommend Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell. It's not a genre I usually read but bought a copy for 50p at our village hall. It (and he) is brilliant. Literary fiction would be either 'The Sea' by John Banfield (Booker prizewinner) or Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. Absolutely no idea about horror!

  2. Hi Janet - for historical fiction, what about An Instance of the Fingerpost by Ian Pears, or Paul Scott's Raj Quartet (I know it seems odd to me to think of the 1940s as history, but they certainly are to my children's generation)? I have recently borrowed a little book called 'Bloomsbury 100 Must-Read Historical Novels' from the library, and there are lots listed that I have never even heard of, ignoramus that i am. More for the tottering TBR tower...

    I am not exactly sure what literary fiction means, but maybe 'The Towers of Trebizond' by Rose Macaulay? You've probably already read it, but if not it is a wonderful book (and not too long!). Or - and I'm not sure if this is 'literary' enough - 'Memoirs of a Geisha'? Or 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie'. Lastly, 'The Go-Between'?

    Have never read a horror novel and haven't a clue who writes them - I should probably do this Eclectic Reader thingy myself.

    Best wishes


  3. Janet - For literary, I loved Julian Barnes 'Sense of an Ending' and I would recommend this. I have also just bought Anne Tyler's latest book. Not sure if you're a Tyler fan but her books are wonderful and I would recommend any of them.

    For historical fiction I would recommend Shona McLean. Her first book is 'The Redemption of Alexander Seaton' which starts the series. There is a review of Crucible of Secrets on my blog. Sarah

    Can't help with horror....