#52books2017 – February

6. Haruki Murakami – Wind/Pinball

Being a massive Murakami fan, I’d been looking forward to reading this for a while without ever really making it a priority to do so. The two stories are the first he wrote: Hear the Wind Sing lacks much strength in structure for me, but Pinball 1973 shows Murakami finding his writing style. Probably one only for the Murakami aficionados.

7. Lara Williamson – The Boy Who Sailed the World in an Armchair

My class loved Lara’s first book – A Boy Called Hope – and one of the boys in my class lent his copy of this title to me.

Lara writes with humour and heartache in equal measure, and her writing style reminds me of Frank Cottrell-Boyce. A really easy read and a great reflection on modern life.

Further to writing books, Lara is active on Twitter – she has emailed our class and sent messages on several occasions – a great author and lovely lady to boot!

8. Dave Eggers – The Circle

I loved this book. It is set in a frighteningly-near future, one where ‘The Circle’ is an all-encompassing tech company, reaching into everyone’s lives as they use The Circle to pay for things, to check in to places, to connect socially and to generally live.

Sounds familiar?

The plot follows a new employee, Mae Holland, as she travels deeper and deeper into The Circle’s, erm, inner circle, as the tech becomes ever-so-slightly more intrusive.

9 and 10. Gary Crew – Memorial / Caleb 

I love Gary Crew’s picture books and managed to pick these two books for next to nothing. Memorial is a sombre affair about keeping memories of war alive, and is co-written by Shaun Tan. Caleb is a longer story, showing a great change in character as the mysterious, insect-obsessed Caleb enters the narrator’s life, causes a bit of a commotion then strangely disappears.

11. Neil Gaiman – The Day I Swapped My Father for Two Goldfish

As literal a title as you’ll find – almost a fairy tale and an easy structure for younger children to follow. A boy trades his dad for two goldfish and then has to retrace his steps to get him back. A nice, straight-forward comment on family life.

12. Alex Wheatle – Crongton Knights

I read this purely on the basis that I could share it with my class. Sadly, I don’t think I can, despite it being an excellent novel, following the troubled life of McKay, whose father has been lying about something and whose older brother is getting further and further into trouble. It reminded me a little of a modern-day Stand By Me.

A great narrative but the language and some of the content would be unsuitable for my year 6 class.

13. G.R. Gemin – Sweet Pizza

Joe has one mission: to stop his mum selling the cafe that so many locals depend on – or at least, used to. A thoughtful and heart-warming story that shows the strength and love a community can create.

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