Title: Books Promiscuously Read – Reading as a Way of Life

Author: Heather Cass White

Pages: 176 Pages

Publisher: Farrah, Straus and Giroux

The Blurb

The critic and scholar Heather Cass White offers an exploration of the nature of reading

Heather Cass White’s Books Promiscuously Read is about the pleasures of reading and its power in shaping our internal lives. It advocates for a life of constant, disorderly, time-consuming reading, and encourages readers to trust in the value of the exhilaration and fascination such reading entails. Rather than arguing for the moral value of reading or the preeminence of literature as an aesthetic form, Books Promiscuously Read illustrates the irreplaceable experience of the self that reading provides for those inclined to do it.

Through three sections—Play, Transgression, and Insight—which focus on three ways of thinking about reading, Books Promiscuously Read moves among and considers many poems, novels, stories, and works of nonfiction. The prose is shot through with quotations reflecting the way readers think through the words of others.

Books Promiscuously Read is a tribute to the whole lives readers live in their books, and aims to recommit people to those lives. As White writes, “What matters is staying attuned to an ordinary, unflashy, mutely persistent miracle; that all the books to be read, and all the selves to be because we have read them, are still there, still waiting, still undiminished in their power. It is an astonishing joy.”

The Review

As a reader, I am always fascinated and puzzled when people don’t find the same joy that I do between the pages of a good book. I wanted to read Books Promiscuously Read because I thought that maybe I would find some answers to this question.

It started off promising with little vignettes that were similar to the book Scribbles in the Margin by Daniel Gray. However, the writing pettered off and became very claggy. Everything seemed heavy and whilst you cannot argue that author Heather Cass White had deep opinions on the matter I felt like I was wading through hoummas to try and get to her point. Ironically, a book that is supposed to be about reading as a way of life became such a dirge for me and I became exhausted by its heaviness. I spent the time reading the words to get it finished and not because I enjoyed it.

Sadly, Books Promiscuously Read was not for me.

Books Promiscuously Read – Reading as a Way of Life by Heather Cass White is available 6th July 2021.

Title: Tall Bones

Author: Anna Bailey

Pages: 344 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.  

Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him. 

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….

The Review

I really struggled to write the review to Tall Bones. Anna Bailey has created a truly chilling story about small town mentality and how bible-belt principles are still present and toxic in society.

In this chilling tale we follow a small town in the wake of the disappearance of a young girl called Abi. No one seems to know where she is. Her disappearance is shocking and drives her community to come together to rid themselves of outsiders who they blame for the young girls disappearance.

Tall Bones is a shocking look at prejudice and how religion – when enforced in certain ways – can have an extreme and detrimental effect on community.

Tall Bones is a fantastic read. It is disturbing and highlights how human nature is often more terrifying than supernatural characters in horror fiction.

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey is available now.

For more information regarding Anna Bailey (@annafbailey) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Random House (@randomhouse) please visit www.randomhousebooks.com.

Title: Another Life

Author: Jodie Chapman

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

She could be the girl dancing on tables one night, and the next she’d be hiding in the shadows.

Just when I thought I understood her, she would melt away and become a completely new person, and I’d have to start all over again.

That’s how it was with Anna.

_______

Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick.

She’s grown up preparing for the end of days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits.

So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation – hints of the people they hope to become.

But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she’s ever believed in, and everyone she’s ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn’t stop her.

Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick’s life.

But rekindling their relationship leaves Anna and Nick facing a terrible choice between a love that’s endured decades, and the promises they’ve made to others along the way.

The Review

I’m always worried when a book is described as “the new” whatever. The links to previously loved stories inevitably leave a person disappointed. In this sense I feel sorry for Jodie Chapman because her book was described as “the new One Day” which kind of give it unfair expectations to live up to. One day was such a well loved and well known book that it is an impossible standard to reach.

So for that reason I am going to try my hardest to judge Another Life without past book interference. Another Life is pretty good. It follows the relationship between Anna and Nick who’s on-again-off-again romance seems to transcend the years and through external interference and equally their own flaws they can never seem to get it together to make it work. You bounce from side to side thinking that these two need to be together to why they heck are these two trying to be together. You can see that they are good and bad for each other in equal measure.

Whilst Another Life focuses on the relationship between the two characters, it really is Nick’s story. We watch as he grows from boy to man and tries his hardest to be what society expects of him even if it comes at a cost to his personal happiness. Chapman looks at his relationship with women, with his parents – in particular his father, fraternal relationships and many others. This was in interesting choice by Chapman who could have easily written from a female perspective and Another Life would have been a completely different story. It was a bold choice that paid off.

Another Life by Jodie Chapman is available now.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: The Latecomers Fan Club

Author: Diane V. Mulligan

Pages: 198 Pages

Publisher: Broad Universe

The Blurb

What is it about musicians that makes them so irresistible? If Abby and Maggie could answer that question, maybe they could finally get over Nathaniel.

Abby was first sucked in by Nathaniel’s rock and roll swagger four years ago when a drunken fling turned into a series of drunken hook-ups that became something like a relationship. Now, as New Year’s Eve promises a fresh start, she wants to believe he’s finally going to grow up and take their relationship seriously.

What does Nathaniel hope the New Year will bring? An escape from reality. He’s thirty-four years old and he’s barely making ends meet as an adjunct philosophy professor, which was always only a backup plan anyway. Nathaniel’s real goal was always to make his living as a musician, but his band, The Latecomers, broke up a couple of years ago, and he hasn’t picked up his guitar in months. When he decides to spend the holiday with some high school friends instead of hanging out at the bar where Abby works, he gets the happy surprise of reuniting with his long-lost friend Maggie. Newly divorced, Maggie has just moved back to her mother’s house to regroup.

Nathaniel and Maggie were supposed to be the ones who left central Massachusetts forever to conquer the world. He was going to be a rock star. She was going to take the world of art by storm. He’s never gotten farther than Boston, and her best efforts only left her broke and heartbroken. As they ring in the New Year together, Nathaniel decides it’s time to take control of his life and to start making his dreams come true. He thinks the first step will be easy. All he needs to do is break up with Abby and finally admit his feelings for Maggie. But the New Year has more surprises in store, and nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

The Review

Oh dear. Another DNF, I’m afraid.

Diane V. Mulligan’s book The Latecomers Fan Club just wasn’t for me and believe me I really tried. I got halfway through it before I accepted this fact.

For me, the problem was the characters. I really, really hated them. Well, no, that is unfair. I didn’t hate Abby. Abby was a victim in all of this However Nathaniel and Maggie were insipid, selfish and came across like the world owed them both a favour. They were both ‘arty’ characters and life hadn’t gone their way and somehow that was meant to endear you to them and how their will-they-won’t-they love affair was meant to override the fact that Nathaniel was treating the mother of his unborn child like crap.

Nope. I just couldn’t give this book anymore of my time or attention when there are far more likeable characters out there.

The Latecomers Fan Club by Diane V Mulligan is available now.

For more information regarding Broad Universe (@BroadUniverse) please visit www.broaduniverse.org.

Title: Ramble Book

Author: Adam Buxton

Pages: 376 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

Ramble

/ˈramb(ə)l/

Verb

1. walk for pleasure in the countryside.

‘Dr Buckles and Rosie the dog love rambling in the countryside.’

2. talk or write at length in a confused or inconsequential way.

‘Adam rambles on about lots of consequential, compelling and personal matters in his tender, insightful, hilarious and totally unconfused memoir, Ramble Book.’

Ramble Book is about parenthood, boarding school trauma, arguing with your partner, bad parties, confrontations on trains, friendship, wanting to fit in, growing up in the 80s, dead dads, teenage sexual anxiety, failed artistic endeavours, being a David Bowie fan; and how everything you read, watch and listen to as a child forms a part of the adult you become. 

It’s also a book about the joys of going off topic and letting your mind wander.

And it’s about a short, hairy, frequently confused man called Adam Buxton.

The Review

I didn’t know much about Adam Buxton before reading Ramble Book – I know, where have I been? In my defense, the only programs I watch on TV are Bake Off, Gogglebox, Line of Duty and Richard Osman’s House of Games. The rest of my time I spend reading. Anyway, I gave his book a go because from the paperback cover we seemed to have a few mutual loves – David Bowie being one of them.

The more and more I read his book the more I felt that me and Adam Buxton were meant to be together but only if we had a time machine and there wasn’t the 20ish year age gap.

Then he ruined it. He was mean about Labyrinth. Now I think we should just be acquaintences.

In all seriousness, Ramble Book is a wonderful coming of age story with such visceral growing pains that you can’t help but feel for Buxton. Especially in the passages about his father. Whilst he is a grown up middle-aged (sorry) man you are still your parents’ children and when the child essentially becomes the parent or the care giver there is a part of childhood that dies. It is with this that your heart breaks for Buxton.

Ramble Book is a great read for anyone who was a child of the 80s or a lover of that era.

Ramble Book by Adam Buxton is available now.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.