This year has not been a vintage one for reading. I don’t want to to count how many books I’ve read so far as I suspect I’ll be disappointed and slightly embarrassed by the total. The past few years I’ve also been aiming to read one Dickens novel a year and I’m going to have to get my skates on if I’m going to manage that in 2014, particularly as I have a suspicion I’ve read all the short ones. I did make a stab at The Pickwick Papers back in March but didn’t make much headway. Maybe I’ll get on better with The Old Curiosity Shop or Little Dorrit.
Recently I have enjoyed re-reading The Time-Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. There’s nothing quite like revisiting a much-loved book, and as previous readings, once I started I didn’t want to put it down. I think it can be hard for stories featuring time travel to hang together, but I’m always impressed by how coherent and cohesive it is. Of course it isn’t perfect, and I don’t think about the scientific explanations too much. However, if you want an immersive reading experience for a dull and grey autumn day I recommend this. It packs quite an emotional punch too. I didn’t enjoy the weirdness of Her Fearful Symmetry as much (though I did experience a huge wave of nostalgia with the Dutch nursery rhyme), but I’m interested to know what Niffenegger will come up with next.
Another book I read this year that plays with concepts of time was Life after Life by Kate Atkinson. I always look forward to a new Atkinson novel and would recommend any of them (though I’m less keen on her Jackson Brodie books, despite my usual love of crime fiction). If you’ve seen any reviews of Life after Life, which spans the first half of the 20th century (more or less) you’ll know that much has been made of the wartime scenes, and I certainly appreciated some of the more unusual (and thus unexpected) viewpoints that Atkinson included, but for me it was the inter-war years that had me absolutely gripped and reading on the edge of my seat with horror. I was also pleased that the modish fox on the cover wasn’t just a nod to fashion but actually relevant to the story. Definitely recommended, but I think best appreciated over several sittings.