Us David Nicholls, 2014 This delivered on its promise of laugh-out-loud moments—maybe more like cry-out-loud moments! Narrated from Douglas’s wry and often endearingly baffled point of view, Us navigates through a variety of situation, life stages and events, un-peeling the different ways in which each character responds and evolves. As The Guardian review said, Nicholl’s is “…acute and astute about the dynamics of relationships”. Trying to rescue his marriage and improve his barely existent relationship with his son, these efforts are set within a trip across Europe, down memory lane and looking to the future.
Arranged through 180 chapters with teasing titles, I wonder if he structured it this way to appeal to the bite-sized attention span we are now struggling with! Either way, the titles and their subsequent reveals kept me up late, wanting more.
The 100-year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared Jonas Jonasson, 2009
I really liked this book. The central character, centenarian Allan Karlsson’s adventures cross back and forth between the past – fantastic episodes and crazy encounters from his long 20th Century life, and the present – crazy encounters from his current day excursion… Unbelievable, but woven together beautifully to make it plausible! From the Manhattan Project to Russian submarines, encounters with Truman, Franco and Stalin, the butterfly effect of Allan’s movements and the crossed paths/ 6 degrees of separation, remind you of the ripples your own life may have, whilst giving you an entertaining ride with the police chase!
The Humans Matt Haig, 2013
I enjoyed this book. An alien arrives on earth to destroy all evidence of the newly found proof of the Reimann Hypothesis by a distinguished Cambridge mathematician. This requires killing and assuming the body of aforementioned (not very nice) mathematician, then attempting to interact with his friends and family to determine who else needs to be killed to keep the theory unknown. Much of the novel is taken up by his puzzled analyses of primitive human ways. The conceit may not be original, but it’s a good read with a couple of laugh out loud moments. The reflections on humans inhumanity as well as our capacity for love culminates in a letter of life advice for his depressed son – a 97-point list six and a half pages long…. this may have been his inspiration for his 2015 book Reasons To Stay Alive (which I have not read, I am basing this off the title). The book has generated a wide array of reviews from lovers and haters… yes, you have to suspend disbelief, there are inconsistencies.. why can the alien do this but not that, but it is a fictional novel after all!
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry Rachel Joyce 2012
I enjoyed this book. An unexpected yet inspired walk from the south coast to the north of England, Harold Fry has some lovely countryside to describe and an array of interesting characters to encounter. Though laced with loneliness, and time enough to reflect on the twists and turns of life, the disappointments and sadness is tempered with a sense of quiet celebration, new openness and discovery of life.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist Moshin Hamid, 2007
I liked this book. Sitting in a Lahore Cafe, Changez, our narrator/host, tells an American stranger about his time in America, studying at Princeton, working in a top NYC consulting firm, and his unrequited affair with Erika… then his abandonment of America after 9/11. It was a gentle, intricate read. Ambiguous and unresolved… leaving you hanging, or to conclude as you wish. Now a film, it will be interesting to see what they pushed and left out.