Book Babble #4 – The People in the Trees

The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara

★★★★★

Ashamedly, had I not been as infatuated with Yanagihara’s second novel, A Little Life, I would probably have never considered picking up The People in the Trees. I bought it only with the assumption that the author of one of the greatest books I’d ever read was not capable of disappointing me, and yet I still neglected reading this book for a stupid amount of time, for very stupid reasons. Firstly, the plot outlined in the blurb (and it really is the entire plot, on the surface) didn’t appeal to me; I had no interest in science or anthropology or scientifically-accurate semi-fictional memoirs despite never having read one before. Secondly, of all things, the footnotes scared me! I was convinced I was not the sort of person to enjoy a novel with footnotes (granted, I didn’t like John Green’s Abundance of Katherines, which is littered with many tongue-in-cheek footnotes, although these were to provide comedy, rather than something as horrifying as the Harvard referencing system), and this novel is full of them, some filling entire pages. Yes: I was very stupid to have put off this novel for so long.

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My Life in Books

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (1999)

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Contrary to the title, this book was a very good beginning to a world of literature for me. At the time – Year Six, when I was ten – I absolutely hated reading and would never dare to do so in my spare time. However, the teachers decided to let me access the ‘free reading’ shelf in the library (with the coveted white stickers!) and the first book I picked up was this. Naturally at the time I was having my ‘goth/emo’ phase, and this cover instantly appealed to me. I gobbled up the entire series over breaks and lunches and bedtimes, and from then on I was an avid reader. These books taught me that reading didn’t have to be boring, nor did it have to be an academic thing – it was something I could enjoy. This book also led me to start writing my own stories which were initially very similar to Snicket’s (to the point of plagiarism!) Continue reading

Book Babble #3 – A Tale For The Time Being

A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

★★★★☆

I always used to have a bit of a thing for ‘diary’ books when I was younger – Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, Do Not Read This Book – and A Tale For The Time Being is perhaps the first ‘mature’ diary novel I’ve read. One half of this novel consists of the diary of Nao, a Japanese schoolgirl, and the other half consists of Ruth Ozeki’s fictional account of reading and investigating the diary. That might sound a little odd, but the idea works – mostly (I’ll get to that later). Continue reading

Book Babble #1 – A Little Life

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

★★★★★

I first happened upon A Little Life whilst tidying the shelves at Book Cycle. It was tucked away in the unloved ‘X, Y & Z’ section (which was made up of about 75% Zusak and 15% Zweig), and I only really noticed it because I’d never seen it there before. It was thicker than most books, and the cover was nice and bold but nothing special – nothing like the wonderful use of ‘Orgasmic Man’ by Peter Hujar that the hardback version has. The blurb on the back didn’t give me much information, either – all I knew was that it involved a group of university students. I figured I’d give it a go; the book was free, after all. Continue reading