Books of 2019: January
Lots of books, lately, but don’t worry, I’m far away from having enough time to read this month. Here are all the books I read in English in January in their reading order. Don’t hesitate to tell be about your favourite ones in the comments!
Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers (Granta Books, 2012) ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. Across 1000 miles of Oregon desert his assassins, the notorious Eli and Charlies Sisters, ride – fighting, shooting, and drinking their way to Sacramento. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, the road is long and bloody, and somewhere along the path Eli begins to question what he does for a living – and whom he does it for. The Sisters Brothers pays homage to the classic Western, transforming it into an unforgettable ribald tour de force. Filled with a remarkable cast of losers, cheaters, and ne’er-do-wells from all stripes of life-and told by a complex and compelling narrator, it is a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier that beautifully captures the humor, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.
What I thought: Honestly I’m pretty sure I’m not being fair to this very funny and deeply attaching book. I started it last year and then I went through a few months without any reading. Which means that almost every time I picked it again, it was for 10 minutes or so, not remembering what happened last… When I finished it it was in one go and I really enjoyed it, especially this ending, kind of surprising and definitely touching. Won’t say more. Will watch the movie, with any luck it’ll help me love this book more.
Genki Kawamura, If Cats Disappeared From The World (Pan Macmillan, 2018) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Our narrator’s days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage for company, he was unprepared for the doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can set about tackling his bucket list, the Devil appears with a special offer: in exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, he can have one extra day of life. And so begins a very bizarre week… Because how do you decide what makes life worth living? How do you separate out what you can do without from what you hold dear? In dealing with the Devil our narrator will take himself – and his beloved cat – to the brink. Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappeared from the World is a story of loss and reconciliation, of one man’s journey to discover what really matters in modern life.
What I thought: Some deep thinking (despite the light writing and its humour) on how much we need the things surrounding us. And far less cliché than it could have been. And even though the subject is definitely not fun, it’s kind of laugh out loud sometimes and definitely funny half of the time. Neither creepy nor morbid, the dialogues with the devil are even quite peaceful in a way. And the cat on the cover reminds me or my tiny baby cat, whom I miss dearly. In a word, I loved it.
Matt Haig, The Girl Who Saved Christmas (Canongate Books, 2017) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
What does it take to believe in magic? Without hope there would be no magic. Once upon a time, Father Christmas didn’t come to visit children every year. In fact, it nearly came to pass that there was no Christmas as we know it.Father Christmas had a lot to deal with; there were troubled elves, reindeers that kept falling from the sky, and more than a few angry trolls for him to contend with. The reason? There was not enough magic in the world. Magic is born of hope – and if the children of the world couldn’t see any magic, then why would they hope for it? It is Christmas Eve and all is not well. Amelia Wishart is trapped in Mr Creeper’s workhouse and Christmas is in jeopardy. Magic is fading. If Christmas is to happen, Father Christmas knows he must find her. With the help of some elves, eight reindeer, the Queen and a man called Charles Dickens, the search for Amelia – and the secret of Christmas – begins …This is the gloriously heart-warming story of how one little girl came to the rescue and helped save Christmas.
What I thought: I know what you’ll say. It was January, so what was I doing, reading a children’s Christmas book? Well first, unless you’re new here, you should already know how much I love children’s books. Their covers are glittery, they have drawings inside, and the stories are far darker than we remember from our own childhoods. And technically it was the Epiphany, and since the Christmas decorations don’t go down until then, I decided that Christmas books could also be read until the Epiphany. So, the book. It’s crazy awesome. To be put in all hands. And read all year long.
Martin Millar, Supercute Futures (Little, Brown Book Group, 2018) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Mox and Mitsu are Supercute. They founded the global business Supercute Enterprises as teenagers, armed only with a phone, a collection of their favourite cuddly toys and a love of all things kawaii. Thanks to them, the Supercute aesthetic is now a way of life. In a world dominated by massive conglomerates, Supercute has continued to grow bigger and more powerful, morphing from an entertainment company to a ruthless organisation fighting for their right to the world’s water. Now Mox and Mitsu face a choice. In a world that is tearing itself apart, who will win in the battle for ultimate control – and where will Supercute draw the line…
What I thought: This is really good. Martin Millar once more excels in another genre and it’s delicious. Sci-fi, kawaï, thriller… He mixes them to offer us this addictive literary UFO and I can’t wait what he’s got for us next.
Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects (Orion Publishing, 2007) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
When two girls are abducted and killed in Missouri, journalist Camille Preaker is sent back to her home town to report on the crimes. Long-haunted by a childhood tragedy and estranged from her mother for years, Camille suddenly finds herself installed once again in her family’s mansion, reacquainting herself with her distant mother and the half-sister she barely knows – a precocious 13-year-old who holds a disquieting grip on the town. As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims – a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.
What I thought: The kind of book that makes me want to go back on my own rule of not reading someone’s first book after the other ones. Gone Girl stays my favourite but this one carried me away (well, after the first 100 pages or so) and let me guessing and be surprised until the very end — Gillian Flynn very own talent in creating twists that you won’t see coming.
Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the end of the Lane (Headline, 2014) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond this world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defence is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.
What I thought: That once again Neil Gaiman blew my mind. His magic is to make you believe in magic as soon as you put your eyes on one of his books, no matter how different his stories are from each other.