I’m quite a fan of bloggers’ monthly reading recaps so thought I might try it myself. As ever, I’ll only include books I feel are worth recommending so should this become a regular feature they’re unlikely to be long posts.
I almost gave up Ellen Ullman’s By Blood, mainly because it has a curiously antiquated style – perhaps over-stylised might be a better way to describe it. It’s about a lecturer, currently on an enforced sabbatical because of his obsessive behaviour towards his students, who overhears a therapist and her client wrestling with the effects of her adoption on her life. He takes it upon himself to intervene, playing detective and tracking down the client’s birth mother. Somewhat improbable yet compelling, it’s well worth a read.
Bret Anthony Johnston’s Remember Me Like This follows a family whose older son has gone missing but four years later is found alive, having been abducted and abused. It’s told with a great deal of compassion from the point of view of each member of the family, all of whom have been changed irrevocably. A difficult subject well handled, although a tad too long for my taste.
Naomi Wood’s Mrs Hemingway is one of those books much tweeted about last year. The Hemingway husband in question is Ernest but as you can tell from the title it’s really about his four wives. Ernest is much as you would expect but what’s really interesting is the novel’s portrayal of the relationships between the four wives, three of whom forge enduring friendships with each other – comrades in arms, perhaps.
The last title is Tim Spector’s The Diet Myth, way outside my usual literary beat but absolutely fascinating. Spector has been involved in a long-term study of microbes that live in our gut – friendly bacteria as those probiotic yoghurt adverts like to call them. He argues that these microbes, which differ from person to person, are essential for our health. Their elimination – often because of lack of diversity in our diets thanks to processed food – may well help to explain the seemingly inexorable march of obesity. He counters the many myths peddled by the media about the effect of what we eat on our health and made me think carefully about my own diet, proudly free of most processed food as it is. Very clever jacket, too.
That’s September’s roundup. Maybe there’ll be another one for October.