Leakey’s

Leakey’s is an enormous second hand bookshop and cafe in Inverness.  Chock-a-block full of really old, kinda old and not-at-all old books and prints and maps and photographs, it’s a perfect place to spend an afternoon browsing and reading and buying in between big bowls of soup, coffees and lovely traybake cakes.

If you’re coming to Inverness, I reckon Leakey’s should be at the top of your “To See” list.

Reading Recommendations (for you and me)

Pretty much every year I ask for book recommendations from you all and here I am doing it again.

I’m off on holiday in three weeks time and from the moment I enter the airport to the moment I hit the sun-lounger to the moment I get off the plane again, I intend on reading lots and lots and lots.   Bothersome tasks like eating copious amounts of pizza, drinking Prosecco,  blethering to Dad, browsing in shops, running along the shore pathand taking pictures of lovely Italian buildings/scenery may infringe upon my plans slightly but there will still be lots of time for literary pursuits.  😉

So, any recommendation for books (fiction or non-fiction) that will utterly absorb me would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

Like last year, I am bribing you for this information with a cute picture of Marco (see above).  Unlike last year, I am also offering you something else: my own reading recommendations. Below is a list of books that I love.  The first eight are books I have read in the last year and enjoyed and the latter four are my all time favourite novels.

Fair trade? Hope so.

Recent Reads

  • Gillespie & I  by Jane Harris – A rather unsettling but entirely engrossing read set in Victorian Glasgow.  Stayed with me for weeks and weeks after I’d finished it.
  • Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler – Read this by mistake.  Thought it was something else.  Not much happens but I felt a part of the fictional family by the time I’d finished.
  • Bjorkmann’s Point by Håkan Nesser – Do you like cheesy crime thrillers? I do and I really liked this one.  Swedish. Not hugely original but a very entertaining read.
  • Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts- Epic true story of a Western fugitive and his experience of working in the underworld in India.  Oddly uplifting.
  •  The Woman in Black by Susan Hill – Love a good ghost story, I do.  Didn’t want to see the film until I’d read the book.   The book’s great fun.  Still haven’t seen the film.
  • Dark Matter by Michelle Paver- Another ghost story. Set in midwinter-Spitsbergen at the beginning of the 20th century.  Not perfect by any means but really, really scary!
  • Blood River by Tim Butcher – Non-fiction book about a journalist’s journey along the Congo river.  Opened my eyes.
  • The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson – Author of The Moomin stories.  I’ve loved her short stories for a while now but this novel was beautiful.

All Time Favourites

  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Set in early 20th century Barcelona. Mysterious, funny, touching, atmospheric… Just loved it.
  • We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver – Stunning writer.  Chilling character.  Thought-provoking issues.  Subtly gripping plot.
  • A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth – Big, big book.  Totally worth the time investment.  May have said this before on these pages but I cried when it ended because I wasn’t going to know the characters anymore.
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – Heartbreaking.  Tolstoy’s prose is beautifully crisp.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Needs no introduction but if you haven’t read it, do.  I read it every year without fail.

Book 2

 

 Just finished reading A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.  Set in 1970’s India during a time of horrific political and civil turmoil, the novel explores the relationship between four characters of great differing backgrounds (geographically, culturally and economically).  The title of the book comes from an idea discussed by two passengers on a train, that the key to life is balancing hope with despair no matter how awful one’s situation.  It’s a beautiful idea, especially when illustrated by the heartbreaking tragedies and injustices of the characters’ lives and their continued labours to improve their lives.

A captivating but shattering read. 

Book 1

 

Many thanks to you all for the huge amount of reading suggestions for my very lazy summer hols.  I shall endeavour to work (that’s not the right word at all!) through as many as possible over the next blissful six weeks and will give little updates occasionally.  Like this one…

First book of the summer was To The Wedding by John Berger and was suggested by Christina.  Picked this as my first book as it was was quite short and sounded very emotional.  The story revolved around the wedding of a 23 year old HIV positive girl.  Her estranged parents travel from different parts of Europe to be with their daughter, Ninon, in Italy as she marries her love, Gino, and as they do we learn of how she and they and he came to be in this situation.  Berger’s characters and their preoccpations reminded me a lot of Milan Kundera’s novels (which I loved as a student) but his writing is far more poetic.  That’s not a criticism nor a compliment – it just is.  Must say, it was a great start to my reading season.  I cried quite a lot but, despite the inevitably tragic end, I came away feeling far more uplifted than saddened. 

On to A Fine Balance now.  Early days but I suspect this may join the list of my favourite books…