Book Love: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared

Hello lovely people,

This book has been pretty big in the blogosphere (and the internet in general) and I fear I might be a tad behind the times with this review, but I wanted to pop a post up anyway because I really loved it.  At the very least, I’ll be contributing to the massive online love-fest for all things Swedish!

In case you haven’t guessed yet, the book in question is The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson.  Bit of a mouthful of a title, but it does introduce the book perfectly.  It’s a pretty nice plot synopsis on its own, to be honest!

While this may not be the best strategy for writing a book review, I don’t really want to say anything at all about the plot because half the fun of this book comes from having no idea what comes next.  All I will say is that you follow the journey of the hundred-year-old man after he climbs out of the window and learn about his life in a parallel story.  And it is marvellous.  Not exactly realistic, but just on the right side of believable to not become entirely ridiculous.

I did find the book funny – not quite laugh-out-loud, but I had a little chuckle to myself on occasion.  It took a little while for me to really get absorbed by the story and the characters, but I think that probably had a lot to do with the  fact that I was reading it on the bus in fits and starts.  By the halfway point, I was totally engrossed.  I also thought the translation from Swedish was fantastic – I didn’t particularly notice it was a translation.  If anything, it gave a great writing style that really suited the story.  I found it very easy to read and follow without being boring.

I reckon my favourite thing about the book was its sheer randomness (I do quite like random connections and coincidences), closely followed by the characters’ totally unique perspectives on life.  If you’re a fan of fun, readable fiction with some meat to it, I completely recommend this.  I got it super-cheap in a Kindle sale, but I think it’s only about 4 quid now if you fancy a quick download.  Or it’s available all over the place in old school paper form.  Go for it!

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Book Love: Classics Club Book 1 – Rebecca

You’ll all be thrilled to know, I’m sure, that I did in fact begin my Classics Club challenge last month as planned, but have just now got around to reviewing my first book – Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.  I picked this up from the Oxfam shop and devoured it in under a week (I was working full days at the same time, so that’s more impressive for me than it sounds!).

I adored this book and genuinely couldn’t put it down – it caused a few late nights of midnight reading, which doesn’t often happen for me with grown-up books.  If you want to read a serious book, but aren’t a fan of Dickens-esqe classics, I would completely recommend Rebecca.  It comes across at first a bit of predictable chick-lit but really is anything but.  There are so many themes and literary references underlying the story and I thought the characters were fantastic.

I didn’t know anything about the story before reading it, and I’m really glad of this so don’t want to give anything away.  I’ll just say that I didn’t find the story totally ridiculous, but it definitely didn’t turn out as I expected and for me it was a total page turner.  On a similar note, I read the Virago edition with the same cover as this picture, but Sally Beauman wrote the introduction in my copy.  If you haven’t read Rebecca before, definitely don’t read the introduction first.  I found it really interesting for adding a bit of literary analysis, but it does give a lot of the story away too.

I’m so glad I bought a copy of this book, because it’s definitely going on my re-reads pile.  Even though I know the story now, I still reckon I’ll get a lot out of the second reading, and I’ll probably pick up on loads that I missed before.  There are a lot of layers to this book, but it’s totally possible to enjoy it without delving into all the detail.

A wonderful start to my Classics Club reading, and I’m definitely off to track down some more Du Maurier books now.  Any recommendations?  I’m totally at a loss for where to go next, so any advice in the comments would be much appreciated!

Book Love: Noughts and Crosses, the re-read

Has everyone read Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman?  If you’re in your early twenties and the answer is no, what on earth were you reading instead during your teenage years?

Noughts and Crosses was my absolute favourite book when I was in high school (though it probably did share that spot with Harry Potter) and I’m currently rereading the trilogy.  It is as wonderful as when I first read it.  At least five times as a teenager I finished reading this book in bed in the small hours of the morning, crying under my duvet.

Now, believe it or not, I’m 21 and nothing has changed.  At 1am last week, there I was with tears in my eyes.  And I’m not ashamed to admit it.

If you’ve never read Noughts and Crosses, especially if you have even the slightest interest in Young Adult fiction, I urge you to go and find a copy immediately.  If you have read it, go and dig it out again – I promise it has aged well.

In case you don’t know, the book is set in an alternate world where black people (Crosses) are in charge and whites (noughts) are, as their name suggests, considered worthless.  It tells the story of Callum and Sephy, a nought and a Cross, who are best friends discovering the difficulties of living in such a divided world and dealing with other people’s prejudices.

I cannot do this book justice with a summary.  It is heartbreaking, emotional, a brilliantly constructed world that can’t fail to draw you in and leave you amazed at the unfairness of it all.  And the scariest part lies in the parallels drawn between that world and ours.

Yes, the situation of black people in the western world has improved tremendously over the last 50 years, but it’s still nowhere near perfect and 1963 really isn’t that long ago.  And deep-seated prejudices are still evident everywhere – they may not be related to race, but the principle is the same.  In my opinion, this book should be compulsory reading for everyone as a teenager, when they’re starting to secure their world view and figure out what they believe.

I’m now halfway through the second book in the series, still as gripped as I was aged 13.  I can’t recommend Noughts and Crosses strongly enough.  Malorie Blackman has done amazing work.  Thank you to her.