I finished listening to the seventh and final Harry Potter audiobook today, written by J.K. Rowling and narrated by Stephen Fry. I hadn’t planned to listen to all seven audiobooks over the past months, but sometimes it's comforting to return to a book or series you love during uncertain or stressful times.
As a child, did you imagine you would be the person you have become? Do you believe memories, especially childhood memories, are like a collection of “polished tiles” that would “someday be the marvellously finished pavilion of the self?” How much of what we remember is true and when does memory give way to fantasy? John Banville explores the unstable qualities of memory and grief in The Sea , a novel awarded the Man Booker Prize in 2005. When we look back at our memories we are confronted with uncertainty, blurred details, figments of imagination, unreliable emotions and doubtful truths about the very events that shape us as adults.
Humans strive for perfection and optimisation. Better skin, better bodies. More efficient cars, more efficient farming. But how far is too far... When dangerous crossbreeds escape labs? When chicken meat is grown without chickens? This is just the tip of the iceberg when Atwood explores these uncomfortable questions in Oryx & Crake .
Wilde’s only novel is a complex labyrinth about art, corruption, morality, sin, and society’s idolatry of the sensual world. The young and beautiful Dorian Gray, like Narcissus, falls in love with the power of his own beauty after seeing a portrait of himself. He uses his supernatural charm and influence over people to live life to the fullest: he denies himself no earthly pleasures, regardless of the cost to himself and others. Like Dorian, we love a good filter on reality. Read why Wilde's novel still resonates with us today.
'The God of Small Things' by Arundhati Roy follows the story of seven-year-old twins, Estappen and Rahel, as they navigate life in Southen India during 1969. A hostile political climate, love laws, a family tragedy, and a series of ‘small things’ collide to alter the course of their lives.
Jealousy, secrets, and mysteries permeate the story of a shy young bride who finds she has big shoes to fill as the new mistress of the hauntingly beautiful Mandalay. Rebecca, the former mistress of the house who died in a boating accident only a few months earlier, quickly seeps into every crevice of the story with her overwhelming presence.
No amount of reading will prepare you for the first months of motherhood. That being said, there are some books that I found useful as I navigated the first six months of keeping (myself and) my little human alive, well, and happy. There are so many conflicting opinions about what you should and shouldn't do and before you know it, your head’s spinning and you start to question yourself and your good intentions. Sound familiar? Read on.
A Hello Kitty lunchbox. A writer on a remote island suffering from writer’s block. Musings on the nature of Time. A bullied teenage girl in Japan. A watch. A Buddhist nun. Big philosophical questions. A cat called Pesto. Proust. A suicidal software developer. Tsunamis and Twin Towers. A World War Two kamikaze pilot… This is Ruth Ozeki’s 'A Tale for the Time Being.'
Lanny is a peculiar boy. He’s full of whimsy and seemingly deeply connected to the natural world and his quirky behaviour causes ripples of bafflement and adoration among the people who know him. But Lanny’s strangeness also rouses the interest of something otherworldly: an ancient spirit whose essence permeates the small English village where he lives with his parents. Max Porter delves deep into psyche of his characters and the collective spirit of the community in his darkly poetic way.
Can you imagine the pandemonium of emotions people must feel when a slumbering volcano suddenly erupts? Robert Harris uncovers the fear, panic and confusion of this frightening experience in Pompeii. The events around the catastrophic eruption are explored with a fresh and interesting angle through various Roman citizens' viewpoint. With his in-depth historic knowledge, Harris brings the intrigues, cruelty and splendour of the Roman empire to life.