So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂
Another month, another edition of So You Want to Read…. For this month, I decided to feature Ian McEwan (see author tag), one of my favourite authors. There’s just something about his use of language, his prose, the stories he writes about that really draws you in and/or piques your interest. I wanted to read a considerable amount of his works before finally putting together a list, and I believe that now is the time to share my list of recommenations 🙂
First time considering Ian McEwan’s writings? Here’s my list of books on where to start:
Atonement (review) — My first McEwan book and it remains one of my all-time favourite books. It introduced me to his wonderful writing; the best way I can describe it is that he’s just able to find the right word for every thought and feeling that flickers across these characters’ minds and experiences. It’s a devastating read to be sure, and it left me thinking about the characters and how one simple action unravelled lives and changed trajectories. Fun fact: this has to be one of the longest book reviews and book dissections I’ve ever written on this blog 😛
Amsterdam (review) — My second McEwan book, it remains quite high up there on my list of recommendations. Perhaps a bit more clinical in approach and structure, it nonetheless showcases all of McEwan’s power of prose and use of language, not to mention the complexity of the characters and the fragility of relationships.
The Children Act (review) — I’ve read a number of McEwan’s books since Amsterdam that, whilst interesting, failed to hit the same heights as the first two books I mentioned. With The Children Act, McEwan not only delivers his signature character drama amidst controversial/current issues but also grabbed the reader’s attention from the very start, slipping readers into his protagonist’s life and thoughts from the get-go. Following Fiona Maye for the first half of the novel and what she does in her job was just fascinating to read and I think she’s a character that first time readers will want to follow from start to finish of this book.
Bonus: On Chesil Beach (review) — Don’t be fooled by the slimness of this book: Ian McEwan manages to cram a lot of complexity into this short tale of newly-weds on their honeymoon in 1962. I initially didn’t include it on my list because it’s a really quiet drama and character study; you really need to sort of settle in and read this book carefully to really appreciate the nuances of what the author is trying to tell. It is by no means a quick read. But it’s worth the mention because it really showcases McEwan’s ability to really get into the thoughts of his characters, right down to every ugly thought that you’d hide from the world.
And that’s my list! If you’ve read Ian McEwan’s books, which one is your favourite? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂
American Assassin (Mitch Rapp #1) By: Vince Flynn Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase
Two decades after the Cold War, Islamic terrorism is on the rise, and CIA Operations Director Thomas Stansfield forms a new group of clandestine operatives—men who do not exist—to meet this burgeoning threat abroad, before it reaches America’s shores. Stansfield’s protégé, Irene Kennedy, finds the ideal candidate in the wake of the Pan Am Lockerbie terrorist attack. Among the thousands grieving the victims is Mitch Rapp, a gifted college athlete, who wants only one thing: retribution. Six months of intense training prepare him to devastate the enemy with brutal efficiency, leaving a trail of bodies from Istanbul and across Europe, to Beirut. But there, the American assassin will need every ounce of skill and cunning to survive the war-ravaged city and its deadly terrorist factions.
It’s not apparent in this blog, but I do read quite a bit of political thrillers peppered in amidst all the fantasy, historical fiction, literary fiction, classics, and poetry that I read. I just don’t blog about it much, if at all, because I tend to blitz through them quite quickly, especially during the summer, lol. This book first caught my attention because there’s a movie adaptation coming out later this year and it’s about to occupy the Jason Bourne-hole in my heart (when John Wick isn’t around, lol):
But then it was funny because I picked up this book and I was pondering to myself that the author’s name was familiar. Aside from remembering when it was announced that he had passed away a few years ago (very sad, and he was so young too!), I remembered that this isn’t the first time I’ve read his books: I read his standalone Term Limits years ago (which I also remember thinking and rating it as pretty good). Anyhow, here we are.
The Orenda By: Joseph Boyden Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
A visceral portrait of life at a crossroads, The Orenda opens with a brutal massacre and the kidnapping of the young Iroquois Snow Falls, a spirited girl with a special gift. Her captor, Bird, is an elder and one of the Huron Nation’s great warriors and statesmen. It has been years since the murder of his family and yet they are never far from his mind. In Snow Falls, Bird recognizes the ghost of his lost daughter and sees the girl possesses powerful magic that will be useful to him on the troubled road ahead. Bird’s people have battled the Iroquois for as long as he can remember, but both tribes now face a new, more dangerous threat from afar. Christophe, a charismatic Jesuit missionary, has found his calling amongst the Huron and devotes himself to learning and understanding their customs and language in order to lead them to Christ. An emissary from distant lands, he brings much more than his faith to the new world. As these three souls dance each other through intricately woven acts of duplicity, small battles erupt into bigger wars and a nation emerges from worlds in flux.
I had a few other books by Joseph Boyden that have been sitting on my TBR pile for some time. This book in particular was everywhere a few years ago so I was finally compelled to pick it up. I’ve enjoyed the other books of his that I’ve read so far so I was curious to read this book.
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!
This week’s topic: Throwback Freebie
Interesting freebie for this week. Ideally I would’ve gone back to say 10 books I enjoyed in my first year of blogging 10 years ago but unfortunately I wasn’t blogging regularly at the time and my list on GoodReads doesn’t say much as I only really started using GoodReads in 2009…So we’re going to go with 10 books I really enjoyed back in 2008 😛
In no particular order:
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (commentary) — I never got around to blogging my thoughts on this book the first time around but omg was this book pretty life-changing for me in that it opened up so many avenues of interests (everything Spain!) and book preferences (a few books on this list was actually influenced by my experience reading this book). It even influenced my family trip the following year to include Spain xD
The Longest Journey by E.M. Forster (commentary) — I remember readig this during my first semester in grad school but again I never blogged about it the first time as I was so busy then. But it was a reaffirming book that I do revisit time and again.
Ensemble C’est Tout by Anna Gavalda (review) — My first review of the book wasn’t much–I re-read and re-reviewed it again a few years ago–but I picked it up after finding out it was adapted into a movie starring Audrey Tautou and Guillaume Canet. Suffice to say it remains one of my favourite books all around.
The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Laz (review) — Influenced by reading The Shadow of the Wind I was picking up all kinds of books set in Spain. I didn’t know much about 20th century Spanish history so this book was quite educational for me as well.
The City of Thieves by David Benioff (review) — Before Game of Thrones I knew David Benioff as the guy who wrote this book. Shocking, hilarious, touching, I really enjoyed following the two main characters as they ventured through war-torn Soviet Russia in the middle of the Second World War.
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough (review) — Funnily enough I didn’t get around to reviewing it until 2010 but my thoughts on the book remained quite crystal clear (so much so that my review was quite Tolstoy-long!). I had seen the miniseries when I was quite young and was quite scarred by some of the events early on in the story but the character study is quite fascinating.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak — Sadly I never wrote a book review of this novel but I was glued to it from the start, it was wondrous, it was harrowing, it spoke of the love of reading and storytelling and books…and yes, it’s one of the books that actually made me cry.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (review) — Such a delightful summer read. I have fond memories of reading this book whenever I encounter the title 🙂
Elantris Brandon Sanderson — My first Brandon Sanderson book, I never got around to reviewing it the first time around but I did re-read the 10th anniversary edition of the book last year (review). It remains a favourite of mine.
Sepulchre by Kate Mosse (review) — In terms of atmosphere, I think this book came closest to evoking that sense of place and mystery that I felt whilst reading The Shadow of the Wind. It’s also my favourite book by her xD
And that’s my throwback list, lol. What books did you feature on your list this week? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂
Wenjack By: Joseph Boyden Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
Shortlisted for the 2017 OLSN Northern Lit Award
An Ojibwe boy runs away from a North Ontario Indian School, not realizing just how far away home is. Along the way he’s followed by Manitous, spirits of the forest who comment on his plight, cajoling, taunting, and ultimately offering him a type of comfort on his difficult journey back to the place he was so brutally removed from.
Written by Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author Joseph Boyden and beautifully illustrated by acclaimed artist Kent Monkman, Wenjack is a powerful and poignant look into the world of a residential school runaway trying to find his way home.
I kept seeing this book around and as I was slowly getting through Joseph Boyden’s bibliography, I figured I’d pick this book up. I was taking a break with The Orenda at the time so it seemed like a good idea to take a break with another book of his, set in a different period. Contains spoilers ahead! (If you don’t want to be spoiled, just jump to the last paragraph)