I’m a day late posting this but I have a self-imposed rule of only ever including books that I have actually finished in these monthly pictures. Yesterday I was dangerously close to finishing Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore but knew that I would finish it in bed this morning and there was no way that I wanted to wait another month before telling you how much I loved it so here we are. A day late but with four great recommendations. Looking at this pile actually it is nice to see that I have read four such completely different books. I often find that I slip into the habit of reading lots of samey books. Like I will read a good thriller then will scan my shelves for another thriller the minute I have finished it if that makes sense? Nothing wrong with that of course but I think there is always a danger of then going off a certain genre if you overdose on them so I prefer to mix things up as much as I can. Anyway enough blabbering, here is what I have been mostly reading in June.
First up was The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce which has been sat there on my shelf been waiting to be read for years. It’s not strictly a sequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry but more of a companion book which seems very apt given what companions Queenie and Harold were. I absolutely loved this. It has the same gentleness that I loved in Harold Fry but hearing the story from Queenie’s point of view gave me a whole new-found love for the pair of them. In short Harold walks 627 miles to save Queenie who is at the end of her days in a hospice. That makes it sound so bleak but I promise you that it is the opposite of that, it is utterly heart warming. I don’t suppose there is any reason why you couldn’t read this if you haven’t read Harold Fry first but I would urge you read both because they are both just so wonderful and reading Harold’s story makes you love reading Queenie’s story even more.
Next was The Last Romeo by Justin Myers who you probably know better as The Guyliner. I have read his blog and followed him on Twitter for years and I enjoy reading his take on The Guardian blind dates more than the actual Guardian column itself! Ha! I know I am probably far from being his target audience but I love his writing and was so excited to read this his first novel. The story is every bit as sharp as you would hope. Our protagonist James finds himself single and throws himself in online dating while writing an anonymous blog and you have to wonder how much is based on real life events. The dating stories are candid to say the least and although this is very much a story about finding The One it also makes you really think about online relationships and friendships in general and question the duality of lives thanks to social media. That’s not to say that online friendships can’t be real or that we are not truly ourselves online, but more that we are multi-faceted. It really is a great debut.
Then there was The Other Mrs Walker by Mary Paulson-Ellis which a friend passed on to me to read a couple of years ago but I have never got around to. From the title I presumed that ‘the other’ meant tales of divorce and second wives but I couldn’t have been more wrong. This was in fact a cleverly written detective story of sorts with the unlikeliest of detectives unknowingly uncovering the story of her own family history. An old lady dies alone in her Edinburgh flat one snowy Christmas and it is down to the Office for Lost People to track down her family. The story jumps back and forth in time and I quite like that as the reader you work it out before the characters in the book do then get to watch the story unfold. It never seems right to compare writers but if you like Kate Atkinson and Sarah Waters, then I think you would really enjoy this.
And last but by no means least was Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan which was an absolute delight of a book. I absolutely loved it from start to finish hence why I couldn’t wait another month to tell you about it! We see the recession shuffle Clay Jannon out of his life as a web designer and serendipity sees him take a new job working in a 24-hour book shop but there is much more to this dusty old store than just books. The story finds a really unique way of celebrating the joy of the old and the new, from ancient cults to cracking codes. Although this is a book very much for grown-ups it made me feel like a kid again enjoying a real adventure story, you know? I can’t think of any other book that has evoked those kind of feelings for me in a very long time, it was perfect from start to finish.
Although I have got through four books this month which is probably about average for me, it has felt like a slow book month. Life is so busy right now that I’m not getting to read as much as I would like (and of course as we head into these last few weeks of the school term things can only get busier!) Plus reading in the sunshine just sends me to sleep. I don’t know how people get through all of those books on holiday, I’m nodding off after a page or two! But I’m not complaining about the sunshine because these last few weeks have been w o n d e r f u l and fingers crossed it stays just as nice when the kids finally do break up. Ah who am I kidding, we best make the most of every day of sun because the minute that final bell of the school year rings, it’s going to rain isn’t it? Ha!