Thanks everyone for suggestions, I have made more edits to the original list.
I was hoping to have finished What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami before today, so I could do a review and claim my tickboxes. It was written originally in Japanese, so ticks box 8; is a memoir (25) and also a non-fiction book (13). I’m not happy that item 25 also inevitably fulfills item 13, though. Also, it was recommended by my dad, so I can’t quite tick 16 (recommended by a friend) or 20 (loved by my mum).
It’s about running.
I’ve read Summertime by the divine Raffaela Barker. It’s not quite as good as Hens Dancing, to which it is the sequel, but still had me genuinely laughing out loud a couple of times. What Would Raffaela Do is rather a good phrase to live by (the answer is often drink tequila or do gardening). I’ve no idea how old she is but surely more than 30, and Norfolk is not quite another country, so I claim categories 10, 15, 16 and ooh, 33. Am now in the middle of a Nancy Mitford.
I can think of several memoirs that can’t be quantified as “non-fiction” – any of Jeffrey Archer’s memoirs, for example, will simply never qualify as truthful…
I have three for the pile this week. This is most unusual and unlikely to occur again this year.
1-The Girl Who was Saturday Night- Giller Prize-nominated novel by Heather O’Neill
It is the story of Nouschka, twin sister of Nicolas and daughter of faded, elusive, narcissistic 70s chansonnier, Étienne Tremblay. It’s also the story of Quebec, Montreal and the spine of the city, St Laurent Boulevard around the time of the 1995 referendum. It’s a truthful and also entirely fanciful setting.
Nouschaka tries throughout the novel to separate herself from her fabricated celebrity childhood. Among the Quebecois, she and her and angry self-destructive brother Nicolas have been fetishized into poster children for the future of a independent Quebec. It’s a dream based on wishes and lies.
Similes, metaphors and magical images fill this novel– “Nobody was used to tunes that were that sorrowful. The pigeons would fall right out of the sky”
“He wiggled into his jeans like a raindrop coming down the car window”
Through Nouschka’s eyes, a cat is never just a feline, and there’s never just one.
TICKS: 4-(pub.2014) 16-( friend-the Giller winner) 40-(new to me) 42-(hometown-Montreal,and I think they drive by my suburb so that counts right–how stringent do we want to be with this one?) 45-(Twitter)…….5
2- PRUNE by Gabrielle Hamilton
This wonderful tome purports to be a recipe book and while it is loaded with instructions on how to prepare food, it’s really the secret code to her restaurant. It looks like scanned grease-smeared coffee-stained notes which have been passed from sous to sous for years. “Crush tomatoes vaguely with a spoon” is my favourite line in the book. It cries out for an index, and I suspect doesn’t have one because you’re supposed to have all these pages memorized. Now get back to that mise.
TICKS: 1-(500+pages) 4-( pub.2014) 10-(one word title) 13-(non fiction) 36-(colour) 45-(twitter)…….6
3-Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
I first heard about this graphic novel/memoir on NPR while driving to pick up a friend’s mother from her doctor’s appointment. Then it seemed like I was hearing and reading about it everywhere.
My father died when I was very young, my mother died on Winter Solstice 2005 and the last four years of that life were hell. My experience was entirely different from Chast’s and yet the same. Navigating mazes of medical, governmental, financial bureaucracy and jargon trying to make sense of it all– making a dozen impossible decisions every day. Death is hard, ugly, and heartbreaking. Chast also manages to make it funny, in the darkest of hues, but quirky and consoling.
Misery loves company,ya’know.
TICKS- 4-( pub 2014) 12-( diff country) 13-(non fiction) 16-(friend C. rec) 25-(memoir) 26-( one day) 39-(graphic) 45-(Twitter)…..8
Good grief Asta, and you baulked at the task of reading 50 books in a year?
I just finished Slaughterhouse 5 and I’m still reeling. Darkly satirical and terribly sad. Despite it being so short I didn’t finish it in a day, but it did become a movie (#3), it has a titular number (#5) and non-human characters (#7), and while it’s almost a memoir, it’s certainly a fiction based on a true story (#18). And it has sat ignored on my shelf for far too long (#41). I’ve no idea if it’s required reading in schools, but it should be. I wish I’d read it years ago. I might just read it again now.
Slaughterhouse 5 definitely ticks the school reading list box, yes. And surely it’s a classic.
Karen’s right; Slaughterhouse Five is absolutely a classic and is still being taught in high school classrooms.
You can also give it the #47 tick for banned books
“A classic” isn’t on the list though? Or is it – I confess I keep seeing categories I haven’t noticed before so it is possible I just can’t see it.
No the only classic category on our list is romance and Slaughterhouse certainly isn’t that.
I only used Karen’s description as a means of explaining why it’s still on high school reading lists. #35
OOps– #35 is set in a high school
#23 is required reading in school
As you were.