Summer TBR Revisited

I never learn! Even after my summer 2015 goal of 13 books was too ambitious, I still thought it was perfectly feasible to read 15 books this year. Yeah, that didn't happen. I did do much better than last year though and finished 11 of them, which is four more than I managed last time!
Summer reading goals

I started reading this at the beginning of the summer and, after two chapters, put it down on my coffee table where it sat for an embarrassingly long time. I finally finished it just before the end of the summer but it wasn't quite the fascinating read I expected. I'll admit, I had a particular personal interest in a book that dealt with how effective western end-of-life care is and the book didn't live up to my expectations. It was mainly concerned with palliative care for those with cancer and took the form of a series of case studies. Although it was admittedly a profound, moving and honest look at how our society handles the end of life, I would have been interested to read a text that explored a wider range of illnesses.

Buy Being Mortal here


This was a re-read and one I was really looking forward to. Although it had been over 10 years since I'd read it, I could remember an awful amount and was excited to relive it. Just as before, I absolutely loved it. Rather confusingly, the novel is presented as the genuine diaries of a woman who was born in 1901 and lived throughout the 20th Century, particularly focused on her life during and between the two World Wars. Although it is, strictly speaking, fiction, it is also absolutely real life- everything that Millicent experiences were real experiences that thousands of women went through in this period of time. There is nothing remarkable about Millicent's life and it is this that makes the book such a poignant and beautiful work. 

Buy Diary of an Ordinary Woman here


Like Diary of an Ordinary Woman, Fingersmith was a re-read but, unlike the former, I couldn't remember a thing about this one. This was a bonus really as it meant I could rediscover the whole story as if it was the first time. It's filled with plot twists and surprises so I really appreciated the fact that I wasn't spoiling it for myself! Although the longest of the books on my list, I absolutely devoured the story of a fraudster maid who falls in love with her mistress and was fully transported into the world of Victorian crime and scandal. On the strength of this book, I picked up another of Sarah Waters' books and I've heard it's just as great as this one!

Buy Fingersmith here


I was planning to read this next but, alas, I ran out of time. I'm still looking forward to reading it and finding out all about how forensic analysis is used to assist police investigations.

Buy Forensics here


To be honest, this one intimidates me a little. I have a feeling it's going to be one of those books that looks like a fairly short, easy reads and ends up taking absolutely forever to get through. It's just got that look about it! There's nothing about the autobiography of the Home Office Pathologist that won't interest me so I should really get round to it soon! 

Buy Forty Years of Murder here


I didn't know what to expect with this book. To be honest, I wasn't really interested by it at all but I found an intriguing note from my Grandma tucked within the pages and I wanted to see if it was related to the book at all. It wasn't, as it turned out, so I'm still none the wiser as to what inspired her to write it and slot it within this particular book, but I'm hugely glad I read the book. The plot is simple- it tells the lives of twins who are joined at the skull, written in dual narrative so each sister has a turn to tell their own version of events. It's a surprisingly emotional read and I found I was sobbing proper, heart-wrenching cries into my pillow in the early hours of the morning after finishing. 
Buy The Girls here


I feel really bad because this was a gift but I was so disappointed by this book. In fairness to the person who bought it for me, I equally thought it was right up my street when I saw the cover and read the blurb. I'd mentioned that I liked Japanese fiction and this promised to be a story of murder and revenge which is everything I am here for. Unfortunately, it turned out to be more like YA fantasy which are two genres I just don't get on with at all. Such a shame because it had such promise.

Buy The Goddess Chronicle here


Again, I felt intimidated by this book. Mainly because it's a fairly chunky text but also because I have a feeling it's quite intellectual. Not that I'm unintellectual, of course (heh), but just because I never seemed to be in the mood for something heavy-going. The idea of a modern retelling of Dracula does sound interesting though so I'll get round to it shortly, I'm sure. 

Buy The Historian here


This book was bought on a whim since it was on offer in Waterstones and I'd heard good things about it (and it had a pretty cover). It was... frustrating. The blurb contains a massive spoiler so that was fun *eye roll* I kept waiting for the event on the blurb to occur and then it doesn't take place until literally the very last page, so the whole time I read it, I knew what was coming up. That completely ruined the experience for me. If you can manage to read it without peeking at the blurb, you'll probably enjoy the eerie mood and I can't fault the beautiful way Hurley describes each setting, but it was a disappointing read for me.

Buy The Loney here


I knew I would love Oliver Twist and I was absolutely right. We all know the story of the boy who asked for more and ran off to London to seek his fortune but, oh man, I adore the way Dickens tells his stories. Yes, there were coincidences that were far too amazing to be believable but I didn't even care. I was really struck by how faithful the musical is to the original text- events, whole conversations and details down to a particular description of a facial expression are played out in the film exactly as they're written down. Even the Pick a Pocket or Two sequence is lifted from the original story (although minus the gang of singing, dancing cockney child actors and Ron Moody under a parasol, of course) 

Buy Charles Dickens Boxed Set here


Oh God, this book! This. Bloody. Book. I'd put it on my 2015 summer reading list and didn't get round to it so thought it was about time I finished it. My Grandma had never stopped talking about how much she loved this book and, as we share the same favourite book (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which she bought for me), I trusted her recommendation. Man, that was a mistake. I wish I'd read this book all those years ago when she gave it to me so I could ask her why the hell she made me read it! Supposedly, it follows the irreversably-changed lives of all who witness a man slap a child at a barbecue. As far as I could work out, very few people actually have their lives changed. Instead, it chronicles a series of characters who I had absolutely no feelings for and is peppered with language that genuinely shocked me. Don't get me wrong, I swear like a trooper, but it felt like this was a desperate attempt to come across as edgy. Instead, it was just incredibly awkward. Also, it's a huge book so it took me bloody forever and I'm seriously wondering whether it was an elaborate prank from my Grandma, just to see if I really read the books she suggested. I'm popping a link below anyway but I wouldn't bother if I were you.

Check out- but don't buy- The Slap here


I read this so long ago that I'd forgotten I even read it. Before I started it, I was fairly intimidated by the fancy statistics and diagrams. In actual fact, it was pretty easy to read and I even noticed a fair few grammar errors so I needn't have worried. Although I remember being interested while I was reading it, I can't remember a single thing I learned from it now so make of that what you will!

Buy Social Class in the 21st Century here


This book has been lying unread for seven years now, I promise it's next on my list. 

Buy Trainspotting here (I know I've really sold it to you here)


Knowing exactly what the plot twist was didn't hinder my enjoyment of this book at all, as it turns out. In fact, I think I enjoyed it more now than I did 10 years ago, as I could appreciate the finer details, such as the extensive research Lionel Shriver must have carried out into the subject of teenage killers. I think it will be more interesting to read when/ if I have my own children as I can't entirely understand the complexities of raising a child (although hopefully my child won't kill anyone)

Buy We Need To Talk About Kevin here 


Out of all the books I read this summer, The Worst Street in London was one of my favourites. A complete chronology of the history of Dorset Street in Spitalfields, Fiona Rule starts right from the first settlers in the area up to the modern demolition of the street. She is evidently an expert as it's incredibly well-researched and there is a huge amount of information packed into a fairly concise book. I absolutely devoured it. If you're interested in London's social history, I strongly recommend it.

Buy The Worst Street in London here

Next year, I promise I won't overload myself again. I may possibly challenge myself 13, which happens to be my lucky number. That's got to be a good omen, right?

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  1. I need to read some Sarah Waters! I've been meaning to for a while.

    I read Forensics in January and really enjoyed it. It's well worth the read

  2. Forensics is on my TBR list, too. I bought it as I studied Criminology at university, and took a Forensics module, so thought it would make for an interesting read. But, like you, I still haven't read it! It's a shame you didn't enjoy The Slap! x www.aimeeraindropwrites.co.uk x


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