Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith
I loved reading the Harry Potter books to my children and was disappointed when they no longer wanted a bedtime story, preferring instead to read the series themselves. I’m glad J.K. Rowling is now writing for adults after her phenomenal success in children’s fiction. I wouldn’t normally choose crime novels, but this is the third book I have listened to in the series written by Rowling under her pen name, Robert Galbraith. These novels demonstrate, yet again, her ability to write a good story, but, just as importantly, to create believable characters we really care about. I want to know what happens to her maverick detective, Cormoran Strike and his sidekick, Robin, and am looking forward to the fourth instalment in the series. I listen to a lot of audiobooks; they’re fantastic companions while I’m walking the dogs, doing housework or on long journeys. This audiobook has the added advantage of being narrated by Robert Glenister, and is a real pleasure to listen to.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan
The Booker prize winning novel has been on my bedside cabinet for some time and, although I’m desperate to read it, I feel I need to go to bed very early one night so I can make a proper start on it, and do it the justice its reputation demands. My daughter, Lorna, is an avid reader and promises me it’s the best book she’s ever read, and, as her judgement on these things is usually sound, I am looking forward to a real treat. The subject is harrowing and important, and I know of Flanagan’s personal involvement in the story because I watched a BBC documentary about him. I was mightily impressed, and I suspect that, in the end, this will not be a bedtime book, and that I will have to set aside a special day to read it from cover to cover.
Life After Life – Kate Atkinson
I’ve been a massive fan of Kate Atkinson since I read her debut novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. I read Life After Life around a year ago, and it’s on my bedside cabinet because I intend to read it again. It’s entertaining and inventive, and one of the best novels I have read for a long time. In this book Atkinson is at the top of her game, telling the story – perhaps I should say, stories – of a woman whose life takes different directions at crucial junctures so that she gets many chances to live through the same events. As well as enjoying this clever concept, I liked the warmth and humanity of the book.
Four Stories – Alan Bennett
Alan Bennett has been one of my favourite authors for years, and this book that includes four of his best known stories is guaranteed to be a real pick-me-up. It cheers me when I’m feeling a bit down. It includes ‘The Lady in the Van’ and ‘The Laying on of Hands’ which I think is one of his best. I like the clarity of his writing, and he is so brilliant at characterization. He manages to be incredibly funny while also endowing his stories with depth and pathos.
Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World – Mark Williams and Danny Penman
In my efforts at self-improvement, I always have some kind of self-help manual by my bedside. I’ve had many over the years, and usually don’t get very far with them. I certainly haven’t improved much, so the effort has been largely wasted, but I’m pleased to say my new book on mindfulness breaks the usual pattern, and I’m convinced the authors are writing about important stuff. I have tried putting some of their ideas into practice. No one else seems to have noticed the transformation in me, but I feel subtlety improved. I recommend this book to anyone who needs to find some peace in a busy life.
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