Wednesday, 9 March 2016

4 Books You Need To Convince Me To Read

book blogger vivatramp shelfwarmers tbr

Over the past few months, I've been making a conscious effort to read books that have been sat on my shelves for quite a while. These books tend to have been sat on my shelves for one of two reasons. They're either a) over a respectable amount of pages b) books that I think I will really enjoy. I, of course, always buy books with the intention of reading them but some books get read sooner than others and when you're an avid reader it's very easy for books to pile up.

I've recently added around 30 or so books to my physical 'read in 2016' TBR shelf (that I will do a post on if anyone is interested in its contents) but there are a few tomes that have missed the move because I need further convincing to read them within the next 9 months or so. I'm here today to share these books with you in the hope that you will insist on me reading them sooner rather than later. Please leave your pitches, however brief, in the comments below. 





uk book blogger vivatramp middlesex

m i d d l e s e x by jeffrey eugenides

Middlesex tells the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City and the race riots of 1967 before moving out to the three-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. 

I bought Middlesex a fair few years ago now from The Last Bookshop on Bristol's Park Street and yet it still remains unread. Eugenides tends to be one of those Marmite authors and a lot of his readers say that whilst they may enjoy one of his titles, they tend to dislike his others. I read The Virgin Suicides about four years ago now and I liked it. I worry that at over 500 pages, Middlesex may be too dense a family saga for me to really enjoy. I have heard mostly good things about this title, so part of me thinks I should just give it a go and see for myself. What do you think? 



uk book blogger vivatramp zadie smith

N W BY ZADIE SMITH 

Set in northwest London, this tragicomic novel follows four locals - Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan - as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. In private houses and public parks, at work and at play, these Londoners inhabit a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end. Depicting the modern urban zone - familiar to city-dwellers everywhere - NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital, like the city itself.  

I've had two of Smith's books (NW and White Teeth) sat on my shelves for a few years now and I honestly don't have a good reason for it, at all. I bought NW from a charity shop for £1.50 a few years ago and it has sat on my shelves ever since. I'm really not sure why I haven't got round to reading this yet, especially as I love novels where place plays a huge part in the events that unfold. I know that Smith's writing style has been described as 'experimental' in some ways but that's usually something I enjoy so maybe I should just take the plunge? 



the luminaries eleanor catton

t h e  l u m i n a r i e s by eleanor catton

It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the NZ goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events [...] Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky. 

I have a big book complex, evidently. I bought this in a charity shop last year because everybody was talking about it and it was being nominated for awards and such but I've been put off by the sheer size of it. Jennie and about a billion other people have said that it's totally worth the 800+ pages so maybe I should just suck it up and go headfirst into this? Force me into it, pals! 



norwegian wood haruki murakami

n o r w e g i a n  w o o d by haruki murakami

Toru is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friends years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated  young woman. 

I picked a few of Murakami's books up from a charity shop a few years ago because he was one of those authors that I had always heard about online. Whilst I know very little of him, I have heard a lot about his inability to write female characters and I think that's why his books have been sat on my shelves unread for as long as they have. Now is the time to state your case for not only this title but The Wind Up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore respectively, as those are the others that I own. Will I appreciate his writing style or should I donate them to someone that would enjoy them more than me?  

And now it's your turn to convince me to read the aforementioned books! Why are they worth reading? What am I going to enjoy about them? If you'd like to do this post yourself, go ahead! I'd love to covince you to read some of your own unread books!


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14 comments

  1. I read Luminaries in January and it did take me about three weeks to read! But it is worth it overall but there are some disappointing parts, for me anyway x

    Heather | Of Beauty & Nothingness x

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  2. I really enjoyed NW - I haven't read anything else of Zadie Smith but I've been meaning to for a while. It's been so long since I read NW I can't remember much of it, but worth a read (and I didn't find it particularly taxing).

    Norwegian Wood did have a bit of the stereotypical awkward female writing Murakami is known for; some of his prose is lovely but it didn't 100% capture me. I still think it's worth a go, though.

    I saw The Luminaries in my local charity shop and the size put me off as well! I'm just not sure the story would grab me enough to get through it. Would love to hear what you think if you do get round to it though! xx

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  3. "Eugenides tends to be one of those Marmite authors and a lot of his readers say that whilst they may enjoy one of his titles, they tend to dislike his others" >> YES. I loved Middlesex but hated the marriage plot. That said, Middlesex didn't feel dense at all, you should go for it.

    That Zadie Smith book is the only Zadie Smith book I don't like.

    Norwegian Wood is good, but any of the other two you have mentioned are better books.

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  4. I really have to read Norwegian wood I love his other books!

    wiltedxfaded.blogspot.co.uk

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  5. Norwegian Wood was the book that made me break my rule of always finishing a book once I'd started it. It's the most boring book I have ever read. I hate it. I don't ever hate books but this one was atrocious. I read most of it and then skim read the last hundred or so pages. It made me realise that some books just aren't worth finishing; if I don't enjoy a book after 200-300 pages, I give up and move onto something else.

    I have read Middlesex and while it's a "good book" I can't say I thought it was anything near as amazing as everyone makes it out to be.

    I have a copy of The Luminaries but my bff is in the middle of reading it and she said it's boring. So I'm put my copy on the backburner until I feel like, y'know, wasting 800 pages worth of my time.

    To be honest, I think it's a rare occasion when one finds a book that deserves to be over 300 pages long. I have mostly found any book over 400 pages just hasn't been edited down properly. It's kind of (in my opinion) a sign of a bad writer. Maybe I am being harsh.

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  6. If a book is a slog for me, I stop reading. The only book I went with until the bitter end was Tess of the D'Urbervilles because even though it was hard work, the story was amazing.
    Middlesex is a slog just because it's so detailed. The writing style is different to The Virgin Suicides, but I enjoy both. I agree with Sophie that it's not as amazing as it's cracked up to be - the subject matter is probably the reason for the Pulitzer. The payoff you're expecting at the end isn't as good as it should be for the amount of reading to have to do to get there. x

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  7. I'd be tempted to give Norwegian Wood a go. I've been meaning to read it since I saw the film a few years ago. It was beautiful and I'm hoping for more of the same from the book.

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  8. I really liked NW, I'm a massive fan of Zadie Smith, and I really liked her approach to that novel.
    The Luminaries is good too, the characters are all really well built and it didn't feel as long as it actually is. It is just quite heavy on men talking to men and some of the imagery is a little forced?
    And I realllyy didn't love Norwegian Wood at all (Murakami's approach to female characters drove me crazy), but I know most people love it! Middlesex is one that I'm really interested in reading too :)

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  9. The Luminaries is without a doubt one of the best books I have ever read! It is complex storytelling at its best it is just on another level to so many books! Totally enthralling! Read it! Xxxxx

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  10. I'm glad I'm not the only one with a big book complex. I feel like I always need to free up like a month to get through one and thus never start them in terms first place. I don't think I'll be much help persuading you to read any of these as most of them are on my TBR too! Xx

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  11. The only one of these I've read is Middlesex - I liked The Virgin Suicides, too, so don't be put off by that! It doesn't read like a 'family saga' at all for the most part, I found it really compelling :)

    Jess xo | The Indigo Hours

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  12. Ok here we go:

    #TeamMurakami
    It's interesting what you say about female characters because actually I thought one of the women in Norwegian Wood were very distinctive. I have a pretty bad memory for the details of novels- especially when it comes to characters- but I remember her really well almost 3 years after I read it. The others, not so much, so you may be onto something there.

    I'll be honest- when I first read the book, I was disappointed. It wasn't going the way I wanted and I couldn't understand why the protagonist was making the decisions he chose. However, when I thought about this- in great depth on my commute to work- I realised that this book was sticking with me much more than books usually do. In my spare time, I was coming up with my own hypotheses to the character's decisions and that's rare for me.

    The story may not have gone in the direction I wanted it to but it definitely had a lasting impact on me. If you haven't read Murakami before, Norwegian Wood is a fairly safe one to start with. Most of his writing is quite surreal but this is a completely straight novel. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle is great to get a sense of his more usual style or 1Q84, although that's a big commitment!

    On the other hand, N-W is one of my least favourite books ever. I found it contrived and the characters were fundamentally unlikeable. By the time I finished, I just didn't care what happened one way or another.

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  13. NW is one of my favorite books. For me, the characters in this book are so relatable it's somewhat terrifying. Her prose is always experimental, especially in this novel - the style or POV changes sometimes from chapter chapter.
    I do think that White Teeth would be a better place to start if you haven't read it yet. The story is probably more accessible and the writing swept me up completely. I read it a long time ago but I remember being in a haze for a week after, thinking my thoughts with the characters' accents and the unique narrative voice.

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  14. I recently read Zadie Smith's novel White Teeth for my Black Writing in Britain module and LOVED it. Her writing style is refreshing and hilarious, and NW has been heavily recommended to me since :)

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