If you listen to the Doubleknit podcast you know that my reading habits have been pretty lax in the last few years. Each time we record Erin rattles off a huge long list of books she's read and I usually have nothing to report.
The last few months have seen a change. My days are so different now with my new (always changing) work schedule. Most days I start work at 7 or 6 AM. This has meant a massive shift in my sleeping schedule. As part of my Going-to-Bed-Before-the-Sun-Sets routine I have been making myself take time to wind down and relax. And that has meant reading.
Credit must also go to Kate Atkinson. Every time she publishes a new book, I buy and read it right away. I just love her. Ever since reading Behind the Scenes at the Museum I have been hooked on her books. She has a dark, wry sense of humor and air of magic around her stories that grabs me. Her latest is A God in Ruins. It tells that life story of one of the peripheral characters in Life After Life, a wonderfully original novel. In Life After Life Atkinson tells a series of possible lives of Ursula Todd. In the first iteration she is stillborn. Then her story begins again. And again. And again. Her younger brother Teddy is a RAF pilot and as Ursuala's possible lives unfold so do various fates for Teddy. A God in Ruins is Teddy's story. It skips through time capturing moments of his adulthood, childhood, life during the war, his child, her children, tying all the threads together, as Atkinson so deftly does in all her novels, into a deeply moving piece of writing.
Once I wiped away my tears I jumped into a new book that I had heard was in the vein of an Atkinson novel. A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell is narrated by the Alter sisters. The three adult sisters use the book to tell their family history as the descendants of some troubling, and troubled, historical figures, and the book also serves as their suicide note. Sounds great, doesn't it? Mitchell manages to strike the right balance between humor and sadness as she reaches back through generations of family history and lore. In the end the story is fascinating, funny and tragic although I didn't find it held together quite as well through the ending as I had hoped.
When these two novels were feeling a bit too heavy I read from Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut. It's a series of short personal essays of the author's life as a young man and music of the 80s. I like the premise (and the music) but the essays never really go anywhere and the attempt to shoehorn them into a theme dictated by an 80s song is fairly awkward. I picked this book up from a Little Free Library a few years ago and will definitely be releasing it back into the wild once I finish it.
Next up, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki that I just picked up from the library.