It’s World Book Day and I want to know what you’re reading!
I’m a terribly unadventurous reader in many ways – my comfort zone consists of literary novels, detective series and historical fiction – but this year I’ve discovered two new forms that I really love.
They’ve become a real go-to. When your brain is fried and you don’t have the attention span for a long novel, I find short stories can perfectly satisfy the need for a good story, depth of characters and impact. Give me a short story collection over a box set any day!
Some of the best I’ve read:
The Thing Around Your Neck – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This collection was a gift from a better-read friend and he was spot on in his choice. I love Ngozi Adichie’s novels and these bite-size insights into Nigerian life are little snippets of the sunshine, the squalor and the richness of it.
A Slanting of The Sun – Donal Ryan
These are my favourite of the lot and probably the best thing I’ve read in years. Donal Ryan’s writing is just amazing, it gets into your mind and into your soul. Each one of these stories is lodged somewhere in me and they come back to me at the most unexpected times. My husband, not a lover of fiction, was equally enthralled with them. They’re not for the faint-hearted!
Stone Mattress – Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood’s stories have an eerie way of getting into your brain. (If only the US Republican Party hadn’t read and mistaken The Handmaid’s Tale for a manual, eh?) These stories are short but perfectly formed. If you like fairytales with a twist of modernity and grit, these are for you.
Frank O’Connor – Collected Stories
He’s the master of the form… and he was a Corkman. What’s not to love? These veer from whimsical to sinister, a perfect combination.
Travel writing, in a non-guide form, is the latest discovery I’ve made. I’m currently reading Dervla Murphy’s Full Tilt: Ireland to India on a Bike, and it’s an incredible read. Without spoiling anything, I was hooked immediately – there had been attempts to rape, kidnap and rob the intrepid author within about ten pages. Not just intrepid, but fearless, Murphy shrugs it all off and focuses (in what’s nowadays a slightly uncomfortably Orientalist way) on the people, the places, and the sheer strangeness of her journey. I have her book on Rwanda, which is next on the list, and I have that wonderful feeling of having made a new friend. I’d love your recommendations on other travel writers to explore.