There is no better feeling when you take a punt on an unknown book and realise that you have a classic story in your hands. To feel that shiddy giddy excitement as you are absorbed in this new world that it’s as though you have been beamed down standing alongside these heroes or villains as they face their next task. It’s also the groan that you feel when your dramatically pulled into reality when the train station for work pulls into view.
Discovering these books is all part of the fun. Sometimes it can be a word of mouth or simply just liking the look of it when you’re in a bookshop. When it delivers its like discovering a superstar like Lionel Messi and it’s the pride and the yearning as you want people to know and enjoy the book as much as you have. Here then a few books that may be worth taking a punt on.
The slow regard of silent things by Patrick Rothfuss
Auri the main lead is a character from Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle in this novella. In many ways the story deviates away from the basics of what makes a novel as there isn’t an actual plot. There is no beginning, middle, and an end with any climax being built up. Instead it is a character study that allows you a peek into her world for seven days. You could argue that it is a story about nothing with one chapter solely devoted to Auri making soap but there are a couple of reasons for taking a punt on this book. Firstly Rothfuss is a fine writer as anyone who has read the Kingkiller Chronicle his words are rich and are never wasted. Secondly you somehow seem to understand more about Auri and have an inclination as to why she became the person that we know through Kvothe in the Kingkiller. It’s a book that absorbs and dwells on you like a fine whisky as you still ponder and think about the brief view that you have been allowed in Auri’s world.
The Lucifer box series by Mark Gatiss
Famous for the league of gentlemen, Sherlock and Doctor Who Mark Gatiss is a man of many talents. Even so there is always an air of trepidation of a big name pushing his book. For most there is an air of hype that doesn’t live to the gushing praise of the media. The Lucifer box trilogy bucks this trend. For starters there is no drivel about how it is the best book ever and breaks new boundaries. Gatiss relies on the strength of his story which is a rollicking adventure that starts with the Vesuvius club. We begin in the roaring 20’s as we are introduced to Lucifer Box a dashing agent with the looks of Dorian Grey and ends in the 1950’s.
A lot of it is tongue in cheek with a mix of James Bond meeting the inhabitants of the Naughty Hellfire club. Indeed there is a bohemian spirit throughout the book but just as importantly it is a fun book with a character who knows no boundaries and has a carefree free spirit. An enjoyable light read that you won’t regret reading.
The damned United by David Peace
It is in the words of David Peace fiction blended with fact as it focuses on the troubled and disastrous forty-four days of Brian Clough’s time in charge of Leeds United.
The style is of a hypnotic rhythmic prose stream of consciousness inside the mind of Brian Clough. There are the doubts and his resentment of Don Revie and the loyalty that he perceives his players still hold for their former boss whilst he tries to impose his style on the team. It also cleverly takes you right back to the start of Clough’s career as a fledgling manager and how he ends up at Leeds.
It is quite a dark story but you can hear Clough’s resonating throughout your mind with his revulsion for Don Revie and what he perceived his Leeds United team stood for. The words ‘his team. His Leeds. His dirty fucking Leeds and they always will be,’ are spat out so violently that you can feel the venom.
Peace also somehow takes you back to the 1970s that you can feel and smell the stale cigarette smoke and atmosphere of the era.
You don’t have to be a fan of football to appreciate this story and if you are a fan of modernist literature then this will be a book that you will enjoy as it is certainly up there with the best of them.
The end of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas
A book that manages to grab your attention from the very first page. Ariel Manto the protagonist stumbles onto a rare book ‘the end of Mr Y,’ by the scientist Thomas Lumas. Although delighted with the find there is a troubled rumour that those who read the book die afterwards. That’s not to ignore the strange going ons at the University due to an unexplained earthquake that leads one of the buildings to subside.
As Ariel progresses through the book and discovering more about Mr Y things get more weirder as she travels through time using the thoughts of people.
It does admittedly fizzle out towards the end but its an adventure that is unique, different, and enjoyable.
The ocean at the end of the lane by Neil Gaiman
There are books that bring a sad feeling that comes after having to say goodbye to friends after a good night out. This is very much one of those books that also leaves you thinking a lot about the story with bits slowly settling in much later like a good pint of beer does.
In many ways it’s an adult fairy story with themes about childhood and the past. Without giving away the plot it’s about a middle-aged man returning to his childhood home for a funeral. Whilst on his way he comes across an old farm-house where he remembers Lettie a friend who claimed the pond by the farm was an ocean.
Upon spying the house the memories come back on that particular moment in time as a child. There are many subjects such as death, family life, friendship, imagination and what is real and not. Even after finishing the novel you really are none the wiser.
This is a book that I would recommend anyone to read.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
Although her sisters Emily and Charlotte Bronte are more famous for their works such as Wuthering heights and Jane Eyre respectively this is a novel that in many ways was ground breaking, topical, and in some ways ahead of its time.
When taken into context the time that it was released it is easy to see why it was so controversial. One of the good things about books is that it can hold up a mirror image and force people to look at what is happening within their own society.
It is a blow-by-blow account of an abusive marriage and the feeling of helplessness of having to withstand due to conforming of what society expects. There is also the treatment and hypocritical sensationalist gossiping and sneering at someone trying to escape it.
The story itself is about a mysterious tenant called Helen who moves into the said hall with her son. Gilbert Markham a farmer slowly falls in love but following a misunderstanding finds out the truth about Helen’s past.
Perhaps Anne Bronte was not as strong in her story telling and structure in her books but in terms of the topic it very much moves away from what was the perceived ideals of romantic novels.