It might not be a full house but I’m pretty pleased that I’ve managed a double bingo in the Books on the Nightstand Summer Book Bingo.
So my two bingo rows are made up of:
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante – a slow-starter but ultimately absorbing read that’s the first part of a tetralogy. It uses the friendship of two girls in 1950s Naples to look at the city at that time and the effects of poverty, or near-poverty.
Heat Wave by Richard Castle – the first spin-off book from the Castle TV show, this is not the greatest writing ever but it was a lot of fun and there’s plenty here for fans of the TV series.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou – the first part of Angelou’s autobiography, about her childhood in the southern United States. This is gorgeously written and very moving.
Forever by Judy Blume – a little pedestrian in style but refreshingly honest about teenage sex, which I imagine was quite shocking back when it was published in the 1970s.
The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard – I’ve only just finished this and so haven’t finished writing my review yet, but I already know I’m going to struggle to keep the word count down as I am now full of fascinating facts about the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910–13. Cherry-Garrard’s account is incredible, both uplifting and devastating, and I am sure will stay with me for a long time.
Larger Than Life by Jodi Picoult – a novella prequel to her latest title Leaving Time, I really enjoyed this story about an elephant researcher who determines to save an elephant calf that has been left orphaned by poachers. There’s definite heartstring tugging, but it’s well enough written to forgive that.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber – a sci-fi exploration of human needs and desires. A priest is sent to a far-off planet to make contact with the first known alien species. Faber looks at the priest’s separation from his wife, and the relationships he makes with fellow crew in the fledgling settlement, as well as the way he comes to understand the aliens.
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier – now officially my second favourite du Maurier, this is the story of a young man raised by his cousin and the woman who suddenly comes into his life, upsetting everything. It’s a psychological thriller with minimal action, but it still somehow works.
Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning – these are very personal love poems and contain many beautiful lines, but I found the religious element a bit overdone for my taste.
Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest – a far more successful poetry collection for me, a living breathing book that truly spoke to me.
Before the summer ends (which according to Books on the Nightstand is 7 September) I’d like to complete the two right-hand columns as well, but that might be overambitious. (Especially as I have a couple of review books I need to get to that I don’t think fit into any of the remaining categories.) I have plans for “Revolves around a holiday” and I think for “Has a happy ending” – though the latter is tough as I try to know as little as possible about a book before I read it, generally. For “A presidential biography” I’d like to read one of Obama’s books (any recommendations which is better?) and “By any Booktopia author” gives me a whole heap of options, but I’m leaning towards Quiet by Susan Cain.
Fellow book bingo-ers – how are you getting on? And non bingo-ers too – how’s your summer reading?