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! 🙂
The Noise of Time
By: Julian Barnes
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase
In May 1937 a man in his early thirties waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block. He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. Any celebrity he has known in the previous decade is no use to him now. And few who are taken to the Big House ever return.
I read his book The Sense of an Ending (review) a few years ago and absolutely loved it–it’s definitely up there as one of my all-time favourite novels–so ever since then I’ve been keen to pick up more of his works. I was especially excited about this particular title because it bundles all my favourite themes and topics: Soviet Russia, Art, Life, Julian Barnes’ writing. Waited forever and a day for it to hit mass market paperback so it can match my copy of The Sense of an Ending but here it is now 🙂
By the way, I looooooooooooooove the book cover of this edition 😀
Everything Beautiful Began After
By: Simon van Booy
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
Rebecca is young, lost and beautiful. A gifted artist, she seeks solace and inspiration in the Mediterranean heat of Athens – trying to understand who she is and how she can love without fear. George has come to Athens to learn ancient languages after growing up in New England boarding schools and Ivy League colleges. He has no close relationships with anyone and spends his days hunched over books or in a drunken stupor. And then there is Henry, an accomplished young Welsh archaeologist who spends his days devotedly uncovering the city’s past as a way to escape his own – a past that holds a secret that not even his doting parents can talk about.
As these three lost and lonely souls wander the city, a series of chance encounters sets off events that will forever define them, in this powerful portrait of friendship and young love.
I have been eyeing this book for years, I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up sooner. I suppose I figured last year that it was high time I picked the book up so here I am, having read it at long last and reviewing it.
By: Ian McEwan
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
“Oh God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself king of infinite space—were it not that I have bad dreams.”
Nutshell is an altogether original story of deceit and murder, told by a narrator with a perspective and voice unlike any in recent literature. Love and betrayal, life and death come together in the most unexpected, moving ways in this sensational new novel from Ian McEwan, which will make readers first gasp with astonishment then laugh with delight. Dazzling, funny and audacious, it is the finest recent work from a true master, beautifully told, brilliantly executed.
I was on a bit of an Ian McEwan roll some time ago; I think I picked up this book around Christmas. It’s a fairly short book and I was in need of a short read so I started reading it.
On Chesil Beach
By: Ian McEwan
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase
All she had needed was the certainty of his love, and his reassurance that there was no hurry when a lifetime lay ahead of them. It is July 1962. Edward and Florence, young innocents married that morning, arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their private fears of the wedding night to come…
I first read this book back in 2010 when I was doing my semester abroad but like the few books that I read during my time there, I never got around to reviewing them here. I remember liking it enough but not quite getting it; I expected more drama a la Atonement (review) and felt it ended quite abruptly. Having read a few of his books recently and with news that this book was being adapted into a movie, I figured it was time to revisit the title.
SPOILERS if you haven’t read the book because I will talk about it to some great length!