What We're Reading

Neil's picture
Neil

Denail, by Ben Moon (Simon & Schuster 2020)

This is one of those tearjerking dog books that come along every now and then, but this is a superior example of the genre. It's an extraordinary story of friendship and the power of love between dogs and humans. Ben Moon is an adventurer who had no intention adopting a dog, but he fell in love with Denali at a shelter, and set off on to enjoy a life of adventure. Life changing illness intervened, and what unfolds is truly moving.

Neil's picture
Neil

Damascus, by Christos Tsiolkas (A&U, 2019)

Damascus is an extraordinarily powerful and bloodthirsty novel about the origins of the Christian church. With great urgency and passion, Tsiolkas imagines the human aspects of this incredible piece of history, while asking contemporary questions about class, faith and doubt, tyranny, betrayal and sacrifice. It's an exhausting, epic read, violent in parts; this is history in the raw. This is a significant contribution to historical writing.

Neil's picture
Neil

Faber & Faber The Untold Story, by Toby Faber (Faber 2019)

A hugely entertaining history of one of the most influential publishers in the world, told from within. Through letters, meeting minutes, memoirs and diaries Toby Faber reports on the evolution of the company against a changing Britain. Starting in 1924, the book traces the firm's struggle through the Great Depression, the Second World War and its paper shortages, financial crises, and later consolidation and takeovers of most publishers of the time. Dramatically, Faber has retained its independence. Long may it continue!

Neil's picture
Neil

The Topeka School, by Ben Lerner (Granta 2019)

The Topeka School is by one of the rising stars of the American literary scene. He has published poetry, an essay collection, and two previous novels, but this novel is at a new level. Ben Lerner is certainly ambitious and innovative, and there is a lot to admire about this subtle, discerning and timely novel. On the surface, it's a coming of age novel, set in the late 90s in Topeka, a smallish city and state capital of Kansas. Through shifting perspectives, Lerner draws out, as the blurb says, a prehistory of the present.

Neil's picture
Neil

Below Deck, by Sophie Hardcastle (A&U March 2020)

This novel comes incredibly highly regarded from almost everybody who has read it, and I can understand why: it's compelling, thought provoking, confronting and poetic. It follows the experiences of a young woman, Olivia, whose life has come adrift until she falls in with an elderly couple who teach her the joys of sailing, and she comes to love the open seas and the freedom that comes with it. Then, a shocking event changes everything. If you like Jodi Picoult and Liane Moriarty, you'll love this, but I do have reservations.

Neil's picture
Neil

Good Dogs Don't Make It To The South Pole, by Hans-Olav Thyvold (A&U February 2020)

In the same vein as The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, but with dogs, Good Dogs is a charming, wise and inspiring novel about ageing, polar exploration, and the love for dogs. Funny and moving, especially for dog lovers this is a perfect light read.