24 Before 24- Update

24 before 24

 

I’m going to try and do 24 Before 24 updates more often. This is my first! Number 15 on my list was read 50 books in a year. It’s now been 6 months since my 23rd birthday and I’ve read, eh, fourteen books. Little underwhelming but I am aiming to move faster with books now that I’m not ill.

Anyway, on to quick thoughts about each of these books:

1. The Crucible by Arthur Miller

A few years ago, I went book shopping with Gavin and he recommended this to me, he said he read it in school and loved it. I bought it but it took me a long, long time to get around to it mostly due to fear. I haven’t really read plays in the past unless I’ve been part of them and didn’t think I’d be able to deal with the format of it.

Turns out I love it, it’s a great story, once I got into the swing of reading it in the format it’s in, I was pretty hooked.

Amazon blurb:

Arthur Miller’s depiction of innocent men and women destroyed by malicious rumour, The Crucible is a powerful indictment of McCarthyism and the ‘frontier mentality’ of Cold War America, published in Penguin Modern Classics.

 Arthur Miller’s classic parable of mass hysteria draws a chilling parallel between the Salem witch-hunt of 1692 – ‘one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history’ – and the American anti-communist purges led by Senator McCarthy in the 1950s. The story of how the small community of Salem is stirred into madness by superstition, paranoia and malice, culminating in a violent climax, is a savage attack on the evils of mindless persecution and the terrifying power of false accusations.

It’s incredibly well written, the parallel was at the back of my mind throughout the whole book. I loved reading it and I’m looking forward to seeing film adaptations.

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

I had been meaning to read this for a long time but only when the film was announced did I feel the need to urgently buy it. At first, I struggled reading it, struggled to understand the context. I think I wasn’t paying enough attention but by around 30/40 pages in, I was hooked. It was a wonderful read and I’d happily read it again, in fact, I almost did just start it over again!

Amazon blurb:

Generally considered to be F. Scott Fitzgerald’s finest novel, The Great Gatsby is a consummate summary of the “roaring twenties”, and a devastating expose of the ‘Jazz Age’.

Through the narration of Nick Carraway, the reader is taken into the superficially glittering world of the mansions which lined the Long Island shore in the 1920s, to encounter Nick’s cousin Daisy, her brash but wealthy husband Tom Buchanan, Jay Gatsby and the mystery that surrounds him.

The Great Gatsby is an undisputed classic of American literature from the period following the First World War and is one of the great novels of the twentieth century.

3. Jodi Picoult- Lone Wolf

At the start of the month, I went to part of the Aye Write!  festival; an evening with Jodi Picoult. I went with somebody who I’d only just really met through Tumblr who shared my love for Jodi Picoult. The friend brought along her extra copy of this book, knowing I’d never read it because she’s lovely and generous, and yeah the night was wonderful. I meant to write about it actually.

This book is easily one of the best Jodi Picoult books I’ve read, I’ve been reading her stories since I was 14/15 and this is one of the ones that’s stuck with me and even ignited a strong interest in wolves. It’s a beautiful, heart-breaking book and when it ended I felt a little bit empty.

Blurb from Jodi Picoult’s official site:

Warren, 23, has been living in Thailand for five years, a prodigal son who left his family after an irreparable fight with his father, Luke. But he gets a frantic phone call: His dad lies comatose in a NH hospital, gravely injured in the same accident that has also injured his younger sister Cara.

Cara, 17, still holds a grudge against her brother, since his departure led to her parents’ divorce. In the aftermath, she’s lived with her father – an animal conservationist who became famous after living with a wild wolf pack in the Canadian wild. It is impossible for her to reconcile the still, broken man in the hospital bed with her vibrant, dynamic father.

With Luke’s chances for recovery dwindling, Cara wants to wait for a miracle. But Edward wants to terminate life support and donate his father’s organs. Is he motivated by altruism, or revenge? And to what lengths will his sister go to stop him from making an irrevocable decision?

LONE WOLF looks at the intersection between medical science and moral choices. If we can keep people who have no hope for recovery alive artificially, should they also be allowed to die artificially? Does the potential to save someone else’s life with a donated organ balance the act of hastening another’s death? And finally, when a father’s life hangs in the balance, which sibling should get to decide his fate?

4. David Mitchell- Back Story

I LOVE David Mitchell, I’ve been a fan of Peep Show since the very start, I love him on panel shows, I love his attitude, I love how he is in interviews. He’s one of my favourite ‘celebrities’. I thought I’d love this book. I really, really wanted to but I just found it dull. I’m not sure if it’s because I have no interest in anything behind the scenes when it comes to comedy or because I’m so used to autobiographies from rock stars (such as The Heroin Diaries and Slash: The Autobiography, both strongly recommended even if you don’t like their bands) that anything less than absolute debauchery doesn’t interest me when it comes to non-fiction. I don’t know but unfortunately, I just really didn’t enjoy it and was pretty sad that I couldn’t get into it.

Amazon blurb:

David Mitchell, who you may know for his inappropriate anger on every TV panel show except Never Mind the Buzzcocks, his look of permanent discomfort on C4 sex comedy Peep Show, his online commenter-baiting in The Observer or just for wearing a stick-on moustache in That Mitchell and Webb Look, has written a book about his life.

As well as giving a specific account of every single time he’s scored some smack, this disgusting memoir also details:

• the singular, pitbull-infested charm of the FRP (‘Flat Roofed Pub’)

• the curious French habit of injecting everyone in the arse rather than the arm

• why, by the time he got to Cambridge, he really, really needed a drink

• the pain of being denied a childhood birthday party at McDonalds

• the satisfaction of writing jokes about suicide

• how doing quite a lot of walking around London helps with his sciatica

• trying to pretend he isn’t a total **** at Robert Webb’s wedding

• that he has fallen in love at LOT, but rarely done anything about it

• why it would be worse to bump into Michael Palin than Hitler on holiday

• that he’s not David Mitchell the novelist. Despite what David Miliband might think

When I’ve spoken with other people about Cecelia Ahern, they’ve described her as a ‘guilty pleasure’. There’s no guilt here; her books are bloody wonderful. They are full of magic, enchantment and a lot of the time, humour. Modern day fairytales. This was no exception. It was a cute story, it was funny and at times, truly heartbreaking. I wouldn’t say it’s one of her best, unfortunately. I would recommend it to any fan though, wholeheartedly.

Amazon blurb:

How can you know someone you’ve never met?

Joyce Conway remembers things she shouldn’t. She knows about tiny cobbled streets in Paris, which she has never visited. And every night she dreams about an unknown girl with blonde hair. 
Justin Hitchcock is divorced, lonely and restless. He arrives in Dublin to give a lecture on art and meets an attractive doctor, who persuades him to donate blood. It’s the first thing to come straight from his heart in a long time. 
When Joyce leaves hospital after a terrible accident, with her life and her marriage in pieces, she moves back in with her elderly father. All the while, a strong sense of déjà vu is overwhelming her and she can’t figure out why…

6. All Families Are Psychotic- Douglas Coupland

This is the first Douglas Coupland novel I’ve ever read and I’m pretty upset I didn’t discover him as a teenager. That being said, this suits all ages, it’s a fun, over the top, dialogue-heavy novel. Coupland has a fantastic sense of humour that doesn’t drown out the sentimentality that holds this story together. I’ll definitely be reading more of his books in the future.

Amazon blurb:

On the eve of the next Space Shuttle mission, a divided family comes together…Warm, witty and wise, ‘All Families Are Psychotic’ is Coupland at the very top of his form.

In a cheap motel an hour from Cape Canaveral, Janet Drummond takes her medication, and does a rapid tally of the whereabouts of her children. Wade has spent the night in jail; suicidal Bryan is due to arrive at any moment with his vowel-free girlfriend, Shw; and then there is Sarah, ‘a bolt of lightning frozen in midflash’ – here in Orlando to be the star of Friday’s shuttle mission. With Janet’s ex-husband and his trophy wife also in town, Janet spends a moment contemplating her family, and where it all went wrong. Or did it?

7. Cecelia Ahern- The Book of Tomorrow

I loved this. THIS is one of Cecelia Ahern’s best books so far. It’s definitely a modern day fairytale, I don’t really know what else to say that I haven’t already about her. It’s just wonderful. Read her books. She’s the kind of author that turns a non-reader into an obsessive reader.

Amazon blurb:

Lose yourself in the magical and mesmerising story from Cecelia Ahern of how tomorrow can change what happens today.

Sometimes tomorrow has to start today…

Tamara Goodwin has always lived in the here and now, never giving a second thought to tomorrow. Until a travelling library arrives in her tiny village, bringing with it a mysterious, large leather-bound book locked with a gold clasp and padlock.

What she discovers within the pages takes her breath away and shakes her world to its core.

8. Iain Banks- Espedair Street 

This was a gift from Gavin. It’s a dark comedy about a failed, suicidal musician living in Glasgow. Right up my street. No, seriously, it’s excellent. I don’t really need to talk about how wonderful Iain Banks is, surely? I love reading books that are set in places I actually know, it gives some of the most banal and overlooked parts of the world some magic, some (fictional) memories. It brings the stories a little closer to the heart.

Wiki blurb:

“Two days ago I decided to kill myself. I would walk and hitch and sail away from this dark city to the bright spaces of the wet west coast, and there throw myself into the tall, glittering seas beyond Iona (with its cargo of mouldering kings) to let the gulls and seals and tides have their way with my remains, and in my dying moments look forward to an encounter with Staffa’s six-sided columns and Fingal’s cave; or I might head south to Corryvrecken, to be spun inside the whirlpool and listen with my waterlogged deaf ears to its mile-wide voice ringing over the wave-race; or be borne north, to where the white sands sing and coral hides, pink-fingered and hard-soft, beneath the ocean swell, and the rampart cliffs climb thousand-foot above the seething acres of milky foam, rainbow-buttressed.

Last night I changed my mind and decided to stay alive. Everything that follows is . . . just to try and explain.”

 

9. The End of Mr Y- Scarlett Thomas

I don’t want to slate this. It’s not a bad book by any account but I found it incredibly disappointing. The story held a lot of promise but it just… dragged. I’m the only person I know who’s read it and didn’t enjoy it though, so, I wouldn’t say don’t read it. Just… not for me I guess.

Amazon blurb:

When Ariel Manto uncovers a copy of The End of Mr. Y in a second-hand bookshop, she can’t believe her eyes. She knows enough about its author, the outlandish Victorian scientist Thomas Lumas, to know that copies are exceedingly rare. And, some say, cursed. With Mr. Y under her arm, Ariel finds herself thrust into a thrilling adventure of love, sex, death and time-travel.
This was my introduction to Iain Banks. It was disturbing, complicated and very dark. I loved it. Like I said, I shouldn’t need to tell you how good Iain Banks is.
Amazon blurb:

Frank, no ordinary sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outside a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank’s mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric’s escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother’s inevitable return – an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly.

Iain Banks’ celebrated first novel is a work of extraordinary originality, imagination and horrifying compulsion: horrifying, because it enters a mind whose realities are not our own, whose values of life and death are alien to our society; and compulsive, because the humour and compassion of that mind reach out to us all.

11. Wonder- R.J Palacio 

I picked this up on a whim when my friend was an hour late meeting me. I went into ASDA and it was on sale for, I think, £3. I think it won an award for being the best children’s book but to me, it didn’t seem remotely juvenile. It was a touching, sensitively written book that I have passed on to my ten year old sister to read and have asked her to pass it on to my mum. See? All ages.

Amazon blurb:

‘My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.’

Auggie wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things – eating ice cream, playing on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside. But ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids aren’t stared at wherever they go.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?

WONDER is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.

12. The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of the Window and Disappeared- Jonas Jonasson

Gavin has a Nexus with a Kindle app. Kindle had a fabulous offer, this book for 20p. It would have been worth full price. It was an adventure, it was hilarious, it was touching, it was completely and utterly unpredictable and I’ve recommended it to everyone who’s spoken to me about books.

Amazon blurb:

It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not…Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century. Already a huge bestseller across Europe, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a fun, feel-good book for all ages. Translated by Rod Bradbury.

I love John Green but this definitely wasn’t his best book. It’s worth a read if you’re a fan but I was pretty disappointed. I doubt anything will beat The Fault In Our Stars, though.

Amazon blurb:

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, teenager Will Grayson crosses paths with . . . Will Grayson! Two teens with the same name who run in two very different circles suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions. Culminating in epic turns-of-heart on both of their parts, they team up to produce the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high-school stage.

Told in alternating voices from two award-winning, popular names in young-adult fiction – John Green (author of The Fault in Our Stars) and David Levithan (author of Boy Meets Boy) – this unique collaborative novel features a double helping of the heart and humour that has won both authors legions of fans.

** John Green has a huge online presence through his 1.1 million Twitter followers and YouTube channel Vlogbrothers, which has been viewed over 200 million times and has 660,000 subscribers, making it one of the most successful online channels in history.

 14. Caitlin Moran- Moranthology

I love Caitlin Moran. If you do, you should read this. If you don’t know who she is, start with her first book, How To Be A Woman and then go on to this.

Amazon blurb:

It’s a good time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727. However, a few nagging questions do remain…

Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby?

Part memoir, part rant, Caitlin answers the questions that every modern woman is asking.

 

Once again, to follow my process, add me on Goodreads and hopefully I’ll be a lot further ahead next time I talk about books!

 

 

 

 

 

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