The Heart of Writing

Helping you to connect with the writer within

2014 Reading Challenge Quarterly Update

We’re through with the second quarter of the year and I am keeping up my reading challenge for 2014.  I was slightly under in my goal of nine books for the last three months (I only managed eight) but I’ll justify this by pointing out that The Goldfinch is roughly 750 pages which kept me occupied for a little longer –  I can always make up the numbers later!

Here’s a round-up of the titles I read April-June:


1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt


2. A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

gut symmetries

3. Gut Symmetries by Jeanette Winterson


4. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

bloody chamber

5. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter


6. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

art & Lies

7. Art and Lies by Jeanette Winterson


8. Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

It’s hard to pick a favourite out of this bunch. I’ve already raved on about A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing so much and why I think it’s a masterpiece (a term I hardly ever use) which you can read in one of my previous posts. There are two Jeanette Winterson titles which is a giveaway that I love her writing; heady and perplexing at times but so evocative and rich. I am always inspired to research the subjects she weaves into her stories so well: art, philosophy, mythology and history.

It was absolutely wonderful to read a hardback again, picking up a weighty copy of The Goldfinch was daunting at first and I wondered if I’d not only enjoy a story that could go on for over 750 pages but also if I had the patience for using both arms to read the novel. I didn’t carry this around with me to read on the train but kept it at home which became a rather indulgent act in itself; it really was a curl-up-on-the-sofa type of book. And the story itself? Well all I can say is, bravo Donna Tartt. It’s a complex ‘coming of age’ story that is sparked off by the protagonist’s encounter with the famous painting by Carel Fabritius. Webbed from this comes the themes of tragedy, youth, family, loss and danger. I’m not a fan of Donna Tartt and most people would scorn me for that but I had to appreciate this body of work which took her 10 years to write. I didn’t expect it to be so thrilling, the characters to be so likeable and the story to be as whole and satisfying as it was.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer was probably the most ‘me’ book out of the selection – it ticked all of my boxes. Exuberant, twisted, gothic, salacious, passionate, thrilling, sensory and layered so deliciously with enjoyable characters and rich language – all set in a very vivid 18th century France. I can’t emphasise enough how pleasurable this was to read.


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