Friday, August 15, 2008

Summer Reading List (Part Three - Odds and sods and odd sods)

Hola Senoritas!

Since last we talked I've become a platinum blonde (I went from black to brassy blonde a couple of months ago,) had a birthday and started my next teen opus. It only has a working title but it's a standalone and I'm very excited about it. I love my heroine and it feels so good to write in the first person again. Also, not to be writing a series, because I'm never doing one of them again. Not ever. You hear me? Not ever!

Anyways, here's the last lot of recommended reads for your viewing pleasure. These are some of my favourite books that I've come back to again and again. Old friends, if you will.

1. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

I've lost count of the number of times I've read this book, but every time I do, I get something completely different from it. It's the story of six Classic students at a small college in Vermont who, when they're not immersing themselves in the book learning, accidentally murder someone. This sets them on a path of more murder and mayhem as they try to cover their tracks. It's not so much a thriller as a wonderfully written study of six really diverse people. I'm not explaining it so well, but it's one of those books that drags you into its world and doesn't let you go until it's good and ready. But I would say maybe not suitable for under 16's, not because it's really rude but you might not get it. I could be wrong though - I usually am!

2. Girlfriend In A Coma by Douglas Coupland

Douglas Coupland is one of my favourite writers. I've read all of his books but he can be a bit patchy so some of them I love (it was a toss up between this and Microserfs) and some of them, I'm all like, "Oh Douglas, you can do so much better than this!" Not only is Girlfriend In A Coma named after a Smith's song, it's another book that imprints itself into your psyche while you're reading it. The book is narrated by a boy whose pregnant teenage girlfriend slips into a mysterious coma and doesn't come out of it for many years later to a world that's changed beyond all recognition. I guess loosely it's sci-fi but actually I hate sci-fi so there's no robots or spaceships or vampires that sparkle in sunlight. The first time I read this book, I dreamt about it every night and that's not to be underestimated!

3. The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The first time I read this book as soon as I finished it, I started re-reading it. Yup, it's really that good. I nearly didn't buy it because I can't be doing with time travel and I do really hate sci-fi but it was nothing like that at all. The Time Travellers has some weirdy genetic mutation that hurtles him in and out of hs own timeline so he first meets his wife when she's a little girl and he's married to her in the future. It's really sad because you know what's going to happen to him but the people around him don't. And FYI, time travel isn't much fun when you hurtle through the time space continuum and arrive at some unspecified place in the future or the past butt naked and bruised. God, this is such a bloody good book!

4. The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

Yes, I know this is a book for little kids but if you haven't read it, you must. Now. Right away! Run to your nearest bookshop! This had all my bulletproof kinks when I was a kidlet. The heroine is an orphan. There are really wicked villains who get right up in her grill like the evil Miss Slighcarp. It's set in a boarding school. And there's triumph over adversity in the end. Y'know, all the good stuff!

5. The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy

I thought I'd finish with something a little different so this is a book I haven't actually read but it's on my teetering pile of books I want to read. It's about a flighty, funny, fiercely witty American girl who goes to Paris in the 50's so she can drink brandy in Left Bank cafes and meet unsuitable men. What's not to love?

This isn't a complete list. There are books I love that are out of print, or that I couldn't tell you to read in good conscience because they're not suitable for teenagers (not that that ever stopped me!) or because even though I love them it's because of where and when I was in my life at the time and they probably wouldn't mean as much to anyone else.

And there are also much loved books I've already recced
and here
and here
And for some really amazing old skool teen books (or YA fiction as you Americans call it), I heartily recommend's Fine Lines feature on a Friday afternoon. Actually, I just love because it reminds me of Sassy and Jane when it was really good and all the things I loved about writing for magazines in the days when we were pretty much allowed to do what we wanted. Sigh. You can find all of Jezebl's Fine Lines columns here. As they would say, I'm not afraid to be service-y!

OK, that's all from me for now. And yes, you can still vote me for in the Queen Of Teen competition if you so desire.

Live on

Sarra x

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