My boss is not only a natural speedreader (which is really annoying), but also has a strange capacity for reading absolutely anything. He is a literary omnivore, consuming vast quantities of unremarkable unicorn fantasy as a way to spend a weekend.
I, on the other hand, like to read, but I'm picky about the material. I suppose it comes down to the fact that when I read, I open my mind to the book; I'm determined to control what sort of propaganda I expose myself to, and I'm easily disgusted by intellectual folly. Add to this the woeful state of jacket reviews, and you'll understand why I struggle even in large bookstores.
Recently I've noticed something else. I've become a literary sexist; I don't trust female writers. There's a voice inside my head that tells me things written by a woman will be either pink fluff, depressing relationship treatments, or dreary postmodernist philosophy. I'm sure it's wrong to think so, but there you go.
So it was largely by accident that I bought A.M. Homes's This Book Will Save Your Life in Stockholm a few weeks ago. The name is not obviously feminine, you see. But I'm glad I did: I enjoyed the book tremendously. Even though it does contain both relationships and postmodernism. Ignore the plot description on the back cover, done by an idiot intern who only read the first two chapters. This is the story of a person that has hidden himself away in a coccoon of success, eliminated all the things that would threaten his wellbeing - but found no wellbeing in it. It is the story of a person that has tried living without stress, and then made a conscious decision to let stress back into his life. Furthermore, it is the story of all the people around him - people he rescues figuratively or literally, people whose lives he's ruined and people whose lives he's improved. It is a sugar-free story of optimism.
It probably won't save your life, but it's a book worth reading. That is not a recommendation I give out lightly.
A tale of two countries
5 weeks ago