I feel like I haven't really been reading very much this month. That's not entirely true; I haven't really read many books that I would recommend to others - or rather ones that really stand out as being fantastic and unmissable. I've read quite a few books but they've been mostly a little bland. Not to say I wasn't happy to read them: I'm ALWAYS happy to read (except for maybe The Unfortunate Traveller by Thomas Nashe - have given up on that one!) It's just that I'm not going to jump and dance about books that are a bit sentimental and not really great. But anyway, here are my picks for this month:
The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbary
I was a little underwhelmed with this - it's the story of an apartment block in Paris and how the death of one of the residents creates a dramatic change in the everyday workings of the building, especially it's concierge, Renée and 12 year-old Paloma Josse, a rather spoilt resident. Both are living in a dream-like state: they show the exterior world one thing, while the novel examines their inner thoughts and expressions. I've added it this month because... the ending. Oh my, it's worth it for that! I spent most of the novel thinking 'yeah, well, I'm not that excited' and then suddenly about two thirds through I realised that actually I was really interested and I suddenly realised I really cared about the characters. So for that reason it makes it into my recommended reads this month.
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold - John Le Carre
I haven't read any John Le Carre before. Probably because I associate him with an older generation. But this is one of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die so I thought I should give it a go. I wasn't disappointed - LeCarre uses an easy writing style and you fall straight into the plot. We follow the story of Alec Leamas over a fairly short period of time: his return to Britain from Berlin, his 'retirement' and subsequent fall into depression and drink and then how he is picked up by the other side to trade British secrets. A plot full of twists and turns and you need to keep recalling tiny little points from earlier in the novel - very clever and I really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and watching it in the cinema.
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Every now and then I totally avoid a book because of the hype around it. The Hunger Games is one of those books - I've been hearing how good the series is for well over a year now and the more I heard, the less I wanted to read it. I figured that I'd probably be disappointed. I wasn't. I started reading this on Saturday morning. Over the weekend I had a whole load of things to do, people to meet etc etc. I finished it about Sunday lunchtime. I was literally glued to this - a really dark and twisted tale that has you biting your finger nails and grimacing in places. But so fast paced and so full of twists and turns, you can't put it down or come up for air. I absolutely loved this and have been recommending it all over the place. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take part in the Hunger Games in order to save her little sister. And so it all starts... Definitely worth reading.