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Every year, Robert Adams prepares a series of five reviews of contemporary novels, to be delivered alone on a theatre stage to sold-out.
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Opinions on books and life. Insist on yourself; never imitate. I read books and review them. I write a little bit. Follow savidgereads Bookish Bear.

Necessary Fiction - Recommended Reading

StonewallUK school role model. Struggle with an ever increasing list of books to be read.

My latest novel is Not the End http: Follow ChouettBlog chouettblog gmail. A voracious reader, always looking for new reads. Professional cake maker, ex-PR and Events. Fan of people, history, and Space. Enjoy the theatre, comedy and going on holiday! Mama to two amazing little people. Amazon top reviewer. Book obsessed Norfolk girl living in Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. Eleanor has her routine down to a science: She's fine, and she's even ready to pursue a relationship with a musician who seems perfect for her though she hasn't actually met him.

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Never mind that she has no social life, no friends, and she tends to say brutally honest, awkward, and somewhat inappropriate things. She starts working out a self-improvement plan in anticipation of her future relationship with the musician, despite her mother's cruel discouragement. Meanwhile, she finds herself in an unexpected friendship with her coworker, Raymond, when they help an elderly gentleman after a fall. Slowly, the friendship helps draw Eleanor out of her isolation, but also pushes her toward difficult truths about herself, her past, and her future. Eleanor is endearing for her mix of self-awareness and oblivious social awkwardness, and Raymond is an unexpected hero.

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  • This book manages to be funny, heartbreaking, and uplifting all at once. Four friends move to New York after graduating from college with big dreams of successful careers. JB is an artist, Willem an aspiring actor, Malcolm an architect, and Jude a lawyer. The story brings the reader into the lives of each of the men, finally landing on Jude. It's at this point that it's clear that this is not just another post-collegiate New York story. Jude is insular and mysterious, and as the story progresses, the degree of his damage and suffering emerges. A Little Life covers decades in the life of the men and it is one of the most devastating, riveting books I've ever read.

    Many readers count it among their favorites--just as many say they loved it but could never read it again. For more, also check out The Story of the Story: Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is many things--and precocious is definitely one of them. This book is about Oskar's search for peace, his efforts to stay close to his father, and his fight to keep hold of his memories.

    Foer's writing style isn't for everyone, and Oskar is sometimes too brilliant to believe, but the handling of memory and grief here is both creative and sensitive. This recent Pulitzer Prize-winning novel tells the story of Arthur Less, a failing novelist on the brink of turning When he receives an invitation to his former lover's wedding, he decides to embark on an around-the-world journey to avoid the event.

    Recommended Reading 2016

    Less accepts various speaking engagements, award ceremonies, and teaching appointments to ensure that he will be out of the country. On this journey, Less ruminates on his past and dreads his future as an aging, single gay man he feels there is no precedent for this and failed writer. Less is both frustrating and endearing, a bit bumbling, and above all, certain of his own failures.

    Those around him rarely disabuse him of these notions, but they also see more in him that he sees in himself. This book won't be for everyone--it's light on plot and heavy on wandering musings, and can be slow at times--but for a reader in the right mood it's a sweet and sometimes funny read.

    Certain parts had me laughing out loud. This is the story of a group of classics students at an elite New England college and their relationships with each other and an eccentric but compelling professor. The students seem to strive for elitism and arrogance, and often toe the line of morality. They eventually cross it when they kill one of their own. You learn this on the first page and then are drawn into the tale of how they got to that point and the aftermath.

    None of the characters are likable, but they are compelling in their insularity and self-destructiveness. The Secret History is among my favorite books, but it is divisive--people seem to either love it or hate it. One marriage, two stories. Fates and Furies tells the story of Lotto and Mathilde over the course of 24 years. Glamorous, fiery, and in love at twenty-two, they each enter into a marriage never fully understanding the perspective of the other. That overarching misunderstanding continues over the years and how they manage it becomes a driving force for their relationship and its successes and failures.

    Groff is a talented writer; the story is complex and I enjoyed her use of the language, but I can't say that I enjoyed this book. It's not an optimistic read, but you might say it's a darkly realistic view of some marriages--maybe a little too dark for me. Nonetheless, it has received raves and awards President Obama counted it among his favorites of , so it might be the book for you.

    Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the first in the trilogy set in Gilead, Iowa, takes the form of a father's letter to his son. John Ames is years-old and nearing the end of his life, but his son is only seven. In the letter, he reflects on his own life and relationships with his father and grandfather, and realizes some of his regrets--including his difficulty relating to a son so many years his junior, and that he won't be around to watch him reach adulthood.

    Robinson's writing is quiet and meditative, but often astonishing in its perceptive observations on human nature. I also have Lila on my shelf but am waiting to read it until I need a curl-up-by-the-fire-with-tea book probably in the fall or winter. Hosseini's debut novel was not only the introduction of a new author, but it was also many readers' first foray into Afghanistan.

    The innocent friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father's servant takes a dark turn with one horrific incident, forever changing their relationship and their lives. Hosseini brings both the people and the country of Afghanistan to life, and while my favorite of his is A Thousand Splendid Suns , The Kite Runner is still a stunning and essential read.

    After leaving a Nigeria under military rule, Ifemelu and Obinze plan to move to the United States to start a new life. Ifemelu pursues academics while facing her own blackness for the first time, now living in a country where her race is defining in ways that it wasn't in Nigeria. Obinze, meanwhile, lives a life in dangerous limbo in London, where he is undocumented.

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    When they finally come together, they must determine if what they've learned about themselves and the world can allow them to be together in a new Nigeria. When Reuben's brother Davy flees after an encounter with bullies that ends in murder, year-old Reuben, his poetic sister Swede, and his father follow him into the unforgiving Badlands. While the plot centers on the family's search for Davy, the atmospheric writing touches on poetry, faith, and miracles--for which Reuben's father seems to be a conduit.

    This book manages to be both tragic and hopeful, and Enger is a writer whose prose is worth savoring. When Theo Decker survives an explosion at the museum, his life is forever changed. His mother is killed, setting Theo on a journey to several homes and a rootless existence. Complicating Theo's sense of disquiet is his secret: When he finally finds a sense of home and belonging in an antiques business, Theo's secret could be his undoing. Oscar is a nerdy, overweight, hopeful teenager, growing up in the ghetto with his Dominican family.

    He wants nothing more than to fall in love and to be the Dominican J. Oscar is endearing for his sweet insecurity, but also for how he embraces and immerses himself in the nerdy things he loves: You hope for him, even knowing he is doomed to a brief life--and he does too, as he grapples with the fuku curse that plagues his family.

    This Pulitzer Prize-winning book is both character study and exploration of Dominican history and the immigrant experience. The attack wounded Marley, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. The seven-year-old twins Estha and Rahel see their world shaken irrevocably by the arrival of their beautiful young cousin, Sophie.

    Building the Book Lists for the Bucket Lists

    Lush, lyrical, and unnerving, The God of Small Things is an award-winning landmark that started for its author an esteemed career of fiction and political commentary that continues unabated. I have actually read Middlesex, and I remember loving it, but it's been long enough that I don't remember it well enough to write my own mini-review. I think this is another one for my reread list!

    Here's the publisher's summary: To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction.

    Rosemary is 22 and hasn't seen her brother or sister in years. Her sister was removed from the home before Rosemary was 6, and now she's determined to learn more about the reasons. It's been long enough since this book came out that you may already know the "secret" of this family, but if you don't, I've removed it from the longer summary and won't reveal it here. Go in blind and don't read more reviews, if you don't know. If you have already read more, rest assured: I loved this novel and would like to read it again. Roth's protagonist is Swede Levov, a legendary athlete at his Newark high school, who grows up in the booming postwar years to marry a former Miss New Jersey, inherit his father's glove factory, and move into a stone house in the idyllic hamlet of Old Rimrock.

    And then one day in , Swede's beautiful American luck deserts him. For Swede's adored daughter, Merry, has grown from a loving, quick-witted girl into a sullen, fanatical teenager—a teenager capable of an outlandishly savage act of political terrorism. And overnight Swede is wrenched out of the longer-for American pastoral and into the indigenous American berserk.

    Compulsively readable, propelled by sorrow, rage, and a deep compassion for its characters, this is Roth's masterpiece. Plodding Archie is typical in every way until he marries Clara, a beautiful, toothless Jamaican woman half his age, and the couple have a daughter named Irie the Jamaican word for "no problem".

    Editorial Reviews

    Samad —devoutly Muslim, hopelessly "foreign"— weds the feisty and always suspicious Alsana in a prearranged union. They have twin sons named Millat and Magid, one a pot-smoking punk-cum-militant Muslim and the other an insufferable science nerd. The riotous and tortured histories of the Joneses and the Iqbals are fundamentally intertwined, capturing an empire's worth of cultural identity, history, and hope. I have a total author crush on Ann Patchett and her latest did not disappoint.

    She again brilliantly weaves together flawed families who fail one another over the decades but keep trying and trusting in spite of the failures. Where you would expect villains, she instead presents complicated characters struggling with their own hopes, inadequacies, and feelings about the past and how to move forward. Where you would expect broken, bitter relationships, she shows the enduring power of loyalty, love, and forgiveness. This is not an action-packed novel, but one where the subtle emotional tensions will resonate.

    Highly recommended, along with all of her other books. The story of the connection between Little Bee, a young Nigerian woman, and Sarah, an English wife and mother, unfolds slowly, alternating between their perspectives.

    30 Contemporary Fiction Novels to Add to Your Reading Bucket List

    An important read that brings the horrors, fears, and hopes of asylum seekers to the doorstep. When year-old Starr is witness to a police officer shooting her unarmed best friend, she is torn between staying silent and speaking out. Starr lives in two worlds: The case quickly makes national headlines and as tensions rise, Starr feels the pull to tell her side of the story and refute attacks on her friend's character, even as she faces intimidation from police and local gangs.