The rules are simple:
- Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
- Order on ascending date added.
- Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
- Read the synopses of the books
- Decide: keep it or should it go?
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa—a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants—life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.
With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life—or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.
I haven’t read any Sarah Waters which seems a little shocking and I think I added this one to Goodreads more as a reminder to do so rather than because this story grabbed me. GO
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
The year is 1995, and email is new. Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard. She signs up for classes in subjects she has never heard of, befriends her charismatic and worldly Serbian classmate, Svetlana, and, almost by accident, begins corresponding with Ivan, an older mathematics student from Hungary. Selin may have barely spoken to Ivan, but with each email they exchange, the act of writing seems to take on new and increasingly mysterious meanings.
At the end of the school year, Ivan goes to Budapest for the summer, and Selin heads to the Hungarian countryside, to teach English in a program run by one of Ivan’s friends. On the way, she spends two weeks visiting Paris with Svetlana. Selin’s summer in Europe does not resonate with anything she has previously heard about the typical experiences of American college students, or indeed of any other kinds of people. For Selin, this is a journey further inside herself: a coming to grips with the ineffable and exhilarating confusion of first love, and with the growing consciousness that she is doomed to become a writer.
I don’t remember adding this to my Goodreads and I don’t think I’ve ever read the blurb, but it does sound like an interesting story and I am such a sucker for stories with e-mails and letters and all those wonderful forms of conversation that avoid talking so… KEEP
Wildlife by Liam Brown
When a troubled advertising salesman loses his job, the fragile wall between his public and private personas comes tumbling down. Fleeing his debtors, Adam abandons his family and takes to sleeping rough in a local park, where a fraternity of homeless men befriend him. As the months pass, Adam gradually learns to appreciate the tough new regime, until winter arrives early, threatening to turn his paradise into a nightmare. Starving, exhausted and sick of the constant infighting, Adam decides to return to his family. The men, however, have other plans for him. With time running out, and the stakes raised unbearably high, Adam is forced to question whether any of us can truly escape the wildness within.
This does sound like an interesting book – I haven’t come across many, if any, books that address homelessness. KEEP.
The Song of the Stork by Stephan Collishaw
Fifteen year old Yael is on the run. The Jewish girl seeks shelter from the Germans on the farm of the village outcast. Aleksei is mute and solitary, but as the brutal winter advances, he reluctantly takes her in and a delicate relationship develops. As her feelings towards Aleksei change, the war intrudes and Yael is forced to join a Jewish partisan group fighting in the woods. Torn apart and fighting for her life, The Song of the Stork is Yael’s story of love, hope, and survival. It is the story of one woman finding a voice as the voices around her are extinguished.
This seems a bit different from some of the other war time romances I’ve read in terms of characters and plot. I haven’t read any fiction set during WWII in a while so this might be a good one to pick up. KEEP
A is for Angelica by Iain Broome
‘My life is different now. I don’t go to work. I don’t have an office. I stay at home, hide behind curtains and make notes. I wait for something to happen.’
Gordon Kingdom struggles with the fate of his seriously-ill wife while patiently observing and methodically recording the lives of those around him: his neighbours.
He has files on them all, including:
-Don Donald (best friend and petty thief)
-Annie Carnaffan (lives next door, throws footballs over the fence)
-Benny (the boy who paints with his eyes closed).
And then there’s Angelica, the new girl (42) on the street, with her multi-coloured toenails and her filthy temper. It’s when she arrives that Gordon’s world of half-truths really begins to unravel.
Faced with a series of unexpected events and a faltering conscience, he’s left with an impossible decision. Because in the banality of everyday life, what would you do if the unthinkable happened?
I’ve read a few books with a similar concept. The microcosm of a street can make for an engaging story, but it can also risk becoming dull. There seems to be some humour in the blurb. So for now it’s a KEEP.