My recommended buy for a Christmas present this year would be Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, which I haven't read yet. This recommendation is basically a hint to my own friends and family, who I am hoping might happen across this blog. Tartt's writing is awe-inspiring, and I particularly like the sound of The Goldfinch's mystery element; very well suited to reading on the sofa next to a fire, with the winter night close outside.
My favourite book world moment of the year was Alice Munro winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. She is one of my favourite writers, concerned above all with what it is to be human: asking that question in each of her subtle, beautifully precise short stories.
Natalie Young is the author of SEASON TO TASTE, which is published by Tinder Press on 16th January 2014. Natalie tells us about the books which have inspired her this year:
The storm came at the end of October. Winds dragged a telephone wire across the stump of an old tree and blew leaves up against the windows of a cottage I’d rented in Dorset. I woke up to find them around the house – tiny and yellow – like a hundred handprints up against the windows.
I stayed indoors with Doris Lessing and The Golden Notebook and the short stories in Dear Life by Alice Munro. ‘These four stories at the back’, she whispered to me, ‘are the closest things I have to say about my own life’. I ran through the pages, hunting her down, and still I sift through the images in my head of a small house beyond the river and a small girl disappearing over the bridge.
Helen Walsh is the author of THE LEMON GROVE, which is published by Tinder Press on 27th February 2014.
There are two books I will be giving as presents this year. The first is the paperback edition of Kevin Power’s The Yellow Birds, which is one of the most accomplished debuts I have read in a long while. Spare, poetic and beautifully written, we follow the narrator John Bartle, a brooding, emotionally tormented veteran, as he moves back and forth between his native America and his tour of duty of Iraq. In terms of plot, not that much happens, but it is Kevin Power’s sensitive and masterfully handled portrayal of the legacy of damage and the loss of innocence in the young soldiers deployed in battle, that makes this a must read for anyone interested in the human condition. I will also be wrapping up copies of Jenn Ashworth’s The Friday Gospels to give to friends. It is one of my favourite novels of 2013 and reminds me very much of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, except the family in Ashworth’s novel are British Lancastrian Mormons. Like The Corrections, The Friday Gospels is both important and insightful and very very funny.