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Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week?

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Your space to discuss the books you are reading and what you think of them

Welcome to this week’s blog. Here’s a roundup of your comments and photos from last week, in which we’ve seen quite a lot of September reading blues – but don’t despair: you still recommended excellent reads.

SharonE6 has been “getting a bit demoralised with my reading this year as nothing has been really grabbing me”. However:

I’ve just read We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (recommended by my son) and loved it. It’s a dystopian novel completed in 1921. George Orwell was heavily influenced by it when he wrote 1984. People have numbers, not names and live in glass buildings. Almost every minute of their day has set actions/tasks. It’s pretty chilling, particularly the ending, and it seems odd never to have heard of it until now.

I have a huge pile of books from carboots ready to take to my nana (she can’t get out to the library as has stopped driving. i often send her stuff from Amazon too). Anyway on this pile was a book that caught my attention – Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. The Japanese/American relationships caught my attention and I thought I would give it a go before I see my nana this weekend. Well, I am 100 pages in and enjoying it so far. A fisherman is found dead at the start and the rest of the story takes place in a courtroom, flashing to and from events in the past.

I read Snow Falling on Cedars at Christmas last year, and thought it was wonderful – a novel that on the one hand, despite being fiction, felt like a piece of classic American long-form narrative journalism – a careful reconstruction of a crime and its investigation, and on the other was an intimate portrait of longing. I’d never even heard of the author before being given the book, and haven’t read anything else by him since.

It’s a truly strange novel; odd, and magical, and really funny, too. Its protagonist is ninety-two-year-old Marian Leatherby, whose delightfully imperturbable nature makes up much of the humour. At the beginning of the novel a neighbourhood friend gifts Marian a beautiful baroque hearing trumpet, through which the first thing she overhears is her son and daughter-in-law conspiring to put her away in an old people’s home; soon enough she finds herself in this “Institution” and from there the novel manages to get even more bizarre — which is a very good thing.

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