The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

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If this blogwas just about finishing 52 books then I really should read more fiction. I borrowed this book from someone at work and returned it the next day. It took just two hours to read. That’s no indication of the quality though. I was a really good book but then as a winner of the Booker prize that’s hardly a shock. Previously I’d only seen a few clips of the film so expected a rather stuffy period piece. Instead it was very moving in a gently compelling way. Not overly dramatic or loud – just quiet, understated, and impactful.

A Fool’s Alphabet by Sebastian Faulks

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The blog has taken a bit of a back seat lately with the Tour de France coming to the fore and monopolising a lot of my spare time. And then when it wasn’t that I was busy working on my CIPD homework. But I’m back and kicking things off with a bit of fiction. It’s another book offered to me by a coworker and to be honest I really should stop accepting them! The basic premise of the book is that we followed the life of our protagonist with each chapter being named after a place with some significance to them. Chapter 1 started with an ‘A’, chapter 2 with a ‘B’ etc The book was a little dull and uninspired. Not bad but just not something that will linger long in the memory.

The Rider by Tim Krabbe

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Another cycling book but it’s fiction this time. Author Tim Krabbe uses his own experience as an amateur racer to describe just what it’s like to actually compete in a race. We get a great insight in the thoughts that go through his mind – the pain, the suffering, the fears, the insecurities. They are all laid bare for us to experience.

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

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More fiction now. I was at work and waiting for books to be delivered when a co-worker offered me this. Normally I wouldn’t chose something like this if I was in a book shop but the whole point of this project is to read more – and I suppose reading something different should be part of that. Overall the book was alright but there were too many flaws for me. The main character sounded and acted more like he was 7 rather than 11. I tried to think back to when I was that age and I’d like to think I was more savvy than that. Having said that it was an interesting, if depressing, insight in to a world where casual violence is a way of life.

The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell

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Next book up and this time The Mrs decided to get involved. She bought me this book as a gift. Some of her friends had talked about it at dinner and, knowing that I was writing this blog, she put two and two together. This isn’t really a book I would pick up myself. I don’t read a lot of fiction and the memoirs of an SS officer during the final solution probably wouldn’t even make it to the top of that list. Having said that though some times it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and read something you wouldn’t usually expose yourself to. This was a controversial book – not just because of the subject matter – with some people thinking it a pile of rubbish and others lauding it as a great work of literature. Personally I thought it was good if flawed. There’s certainly a talented author at work here – some of the sections are fantastically well written and engrossing, the allegorical references to Greek mythology are a step above most bog standard writers. But then there are sections of gratuitous┬áscatological┬ánonsense too. It’s uneven, unlikeable, in fact at times it is downright unpleasant – but then if the point of art (and literature is certainly an art form) is to provoke thought and The Kindly Ones certainly does that.