Oh hey there, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?!
I wrote this blog post back in April but have only just gotten around to posting it – better late than never 😉
1. ABOUT A BOY – NICK HORNBY
Will, a rich, child-free and irresponsible Londoner in his thirties who, in search of available women, invents an imaginary son and starts attending single parent meetings. As a result of one of his liaisons, he meets Marcus, an odd 12-year-old boy with problems at school. Gradually, Will and Marcus become friends, and as Will teaches Marcus how to be a cool kid, Marcus helps Will to finally grow up.
I first read this book around 15 years ago and decided to give it a re-read as I spotted this copy at the charity shop. Luckily, it’s stood the test of time and I still love it – it’s so funny in the most dry, British way aka my favourite way. While Hornby also touches on some tough topics in the book, such as depression, suicide and single parenthood, he writes in such a talented way that managed to keep things light without trivialising the issues tackled. The characters are interesting and endearing; I really enjoyed seeing how they came together and grew as people throughout the story.
“It was almost as if he had been given a glimpse of what it was like to be human. It wasn’t too bad, really; he wouldn’t even mind being human on full-time basis”
2. GHOSTS – DOLLY ALDERTON (2020)
32-year-old Nina Dean is a successful food writer, but a life that is falling apart. When she uses dating apps for the first time, she becomes a victim of ghosting. Her beloved dad is vanishing in slow motion into dementia, and she’s starting to think about ageing and the gendered double-standard of the biological clock. On top of this she has to deal with her mother’s desire for a mid-life makeover and the fact that all her friends seem to be slipping away from her.
Having adored Everything I Know About Love, I knew that I’d love Dolly’s first novel just as much and it didn’t disappoint. I’m sure you all know by now that contemporary fiction is my favourite genre with bonus points if it features a protagonist in her late twenties/early thirties AND is set in London. Beautifully written, funny and relatable – suffice to say that I’m a big fan!
“My 32nd birthday was the simplest birthday I ever had. Which was a perfectly lovely way to begin the strangest year of my life.”
3. THE EMBASSY OF CAMBODIA – ZADIE SMITH (2013)
Beginning and ending outside the Embassy of Cambodia, located in Willesden, NW London, the story takes us into the life of a young woman, Fatou. She is a domestic servant to the Derawals, a wealthy Pakistani family, and escapee from one set of hardships to another. Through Fatou, Smith suggests how the apparently small things in an ordinary life always raise larger, more extraordinary questions.
As I’m back to working full time, I’ve had less time to read this month so this short story that I found at the charity shop was the perfect little accompaniment to my tube journeys. As Fatou walks pass the Embassy, there is the constant noise of a badminton game happening behind the wall with numbered short chapters showing the score from 0-1 to 0-21. Despite being such a short story, Smith has managed to pack a lot in and explored issues such as power and inequality, human suffering and racism. Plus, the protagonist enjoys a good swim as much as I do! This is the second Zadie Smith book that I’ve read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“The fact is, if we followed the history of every little country in the world – in its dramatic as well as its quiet times – we would have no space left in which to live our own lives or apply ourselves to our necessary tasks, never mind indulge in occasional pleasures, like swimming …”
4. THE TO-DO LIST AND OTHER DEBACLES – AMY JONES (2019)
Are you a woman? Do you make to-do lists to stop you losing your mind? Have you ever cried in the toilets at work, had a meltdown in the supermarket, or gone off the rails at a hen party?
And have you ever been saved from any of the above by your truly brilliant friends?
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then this is the book for you. A moving, funny and brutally honest memoir of one woman’s millennial misadventures, The To-Do List and Other Debacles follows Amy Jones on her journeys through friendship, marriage and mental health disasters.
A memoir of a millennial living in London who also loves making lists?! SIGN ME UP. If you know me, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of makings lists, whether it be for things to do, places to visit, books to read, films and series to watch – the list of lists goes on. While I don’t make daily to-do lists like Amy, I really felt for her because it sounded like the daily lists that she made put a lot of pressure on her and she felt like a failure if she didn’t manage to tick everything off. It was quite sad and frustrating to read that Amy always felt that she was a failure and unworthy of the good things and good people that she had in her life; she wasn’t able to see the great qualities that she had! I loved hearing that her therapist was really helpful; I admired her suggestion of making a daily ‘to-done’ list to document all the other things that Amy achieved in her days that may not have necessarily been on her to-do list. Overall, Amy is a brilliant writer, and this is such a brave, funny and honest memoir, with aspects that I’m sure many will be able to relate to.
“Even if I do need to feel good about myself sometimes, there are so many reasons I have to do that without relying on constant achievement.”