Summer holidays are fast approaching and with it maybe a bit more time to enjoy reading books which you might otherwise neglect throughout the busier time of the year. The following are some of the books (fiction) I have read over the past few months and which have left a lasting impression.
For non-fiction recommendations please wait for a forthcoming post. If there is one book that I would recommend you read from the list below it would be The Remains of the Day.
It is a fantastic read and one which I cannot believe I discovered so late. I might actually re-read it again it is so good.
An Officer and a Spy – Robert Harris
Robert Harris is the author of my all-time favourite book Pompei. It is a book which I have returned to time and time again because of the way Harris plots his story based on the famous eruption of Pompei. He crafts the story expertly from the perspective of four main characters.
An Officer and a Spy is his latest instalment and a very topical one at that. This book is actually a spy thriller and examination of the infamous Dreyfus affair which took place in 1895. It is unbelievable that this is based on a true story.
It is told from the perspective of a functionary-turned-whistle-blower and brings to mind the recent cases of mass surveillance and cover-ups. I leave you to read this political and psychological thriller. Dreyfus was wrongly convicted for a crime he did not commit. If you have never entered the world of Harris this is a good place to start.
The remains of the day: Kazuo Ishiguro In a way it is amazing that it took me so long to discover this book. It was written in 1989, was in the home library for quite some time but I never noticed it. When I discovered it and downloaded the ebook, I started this ebook and was instantly hooked.
When I told my wife what book I was reading she told me as a matter of fact that we have it in the library and that it was a briliant book. I can now understand why.
The story is about an English butler who has dedicated his life to the service Lord Darlington. When the house is bought by a new owner, the wealthy American who takes ownership encourages the butler to borrow his car to take a well-earned break, a ‘motoring trip’.
On this trip, Steven, the butler starts a deep reflection about his past. In it he speaks about his relationship with his father, his love for a colleague who loved him but he was too blind to see, the concept of loyalty and also a reflection of how different people have different priorities in life. In the book there are great moments like when the butler is looking back at the things he missed in life and how he finally sees that he has missed the wood for the trees. If you only have time to read one book this summer and you haven’t read it, then make it this one.
The Circle – Dave Eggers The Circle by Dave Eggers is a compelling read about the implications of our ‘always on’ culture. The Circle is a company which encourages its employees quite religiously to practice what they preach, i.e. to completely forego their privacy and be constantly online sharing even the most private moments online. It is up to you to decide which company Eggers has in mind. What follows is a brilliant reflection of the implications of social media and our obsession with sharing everything. It also looks at the implications for those who do not want to fall into this trap and how that relationship with ‘the connected’ people suffers. Have you taken time to reflect on how you use your smart-phone in social situations and how anti-social this might seem? The story follows the life in the company The Circle of an enthusiastic new employee who is in awe at how great it is to share every moment with friends and even strangers. The story topic might be slightly exaggerated and potentially comical but not too far-fetched when you look at developments like technology wearables like glasses and watches which may soon become mainstream. The book looks at what happens when social media becomes pervasive, i.e. when there is no escaping from the spotlight. What happens in such a society? Up to you to find out.