It seems an update on my reading challenge is long overdue! This is the little bundle of books that I read in March and five seems to be the magic number as I have read that amount every month so far. Without further ado, I present to you books 11 to 15 -
11. The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
12. Post Office - Charles Bukowski
13. Etta and Otto and Russell and James - Emma Hooper
14. Joyland - Stephen King
15. The Last Banquet - Jonathan Grimwood
March started with a book that's been on my bookshelf for a while but I had never quite got around to picking up. With an appealing cover and plenty of good reviews, I dug in hopeful for a mysterious and intriguing read. I have to say I was sorely disappointed with The Night Circus. Whilst Morgenstern's depictions of the Circus are at times beautiful, I soon found the descriptions to be endless, pointless and in lieu of any satisfying plot or story. I really dislike being critical of any book but I feel that I have to be honest. This really was not my cup of tea but I know that for many this is one of their absolute favourites. I would love to know what you made of it.
And now for something completely different.... my first ever Charles Bukowski novel - Post Office. Henry Chinaski is a boozy, tell-it-like-it-is old cynic who relays the daily grind of working for the US postal service. The story is far from dull, due to its interesting but flawed protagonist and it left me with the harsh reminder that life is short. A bit of of a wake-up call, that if we are not careful we will spend our blink-of-an-eye, three score years and ten working in a monotonous and tedious job that we really do not give a stuff about. Hmmmm, food for thought! If that isn't gloomy enough, you can find some more dirty realism in these novels here.
Next up was book 13, Etta and Otto and Russell and James by debut writer Emma Hooper and oh what a beauty it is! Far and away my favourite of this bunch and also the best book I have read this year so far. I actually picked this up in the library after it caught my eye and I had a vague recollection of reading good things about it. (I'm so glad I did). Although the story of an 80 year old lady embarking on a 2.000 mile trek to the sea might not be something I would normally go for, I was completely taken with how skilfully and beautifully written this is. Each word is chosen with such care, giving the story a lovely rhythmic flow which is almost song-like and offers Etta's tale a warm and gentle feel without being twee. The novel, at times, left me feeling nostalgic for something, I'm not quire sure what - the past, my childhood. I don't quite know. Anyway, whenever you are next browsing in the library or your local bookshop, have a little look out for this one. If you do decide to give this gorgeous story a try, let me know what you think in the comments.
O.K. so with a lot to live up to I moved on to my next novel Joyland by Stephen King. I actually avoided reading this for a while because I thought it was another of King's horror-fests, turns out it's more of a slightly spooky crime/coming-of-age novel. It was fairly entertaining and I whipped right through it but I am certain that the author has written much finer novels. I just need to be brave or maybe keep the light on at night for a few weeks.
Finally, I rounded off the month with a Mr. B's Book Emporium suggestion - The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood. Quite an odd little book for me, this is another book I would not normally choose myself. The writing was good and the story kept me fairly interested. However, I cannot say whether I actually enjoyed it or not! The novel is set in Eighteenth Century France and and follows the life of Jean-Marie d'Aumout from orphan to soldier to spy. His obsession with killing and eating an assortment of animals made me feel a little bit icky - e.g. three snake bouillabaisse, if you will!
So, after my little blogging break, I feel that I have written quite the essay on my March reading wrap-up here. I hope you are all on track with your reading challenges. Until next time....