In 2013 I read lots of books. This was the year when I started my short stint in the world of bookselling. The staff discount and the continual demand for book recommendations led me to pick up many books that were outside my comfort zone.
The Son by Philipp Meyer is one such book. Here are the reasons why I normally would pass it by; it is very long, it is a sequel, it is set in the wild west and it is a family saga, Yawn. However by the end of 2013 I was announcing that The Son was my favourite book of the year. (FYI I have not read the first instalment of Meyers work American Rust but it is on my TBR list).
A house divided
The Son is centred around three characters Eli, Peter and Jeannie McCullough. They are many generations of one family dynasty, all influenced by the life of patriarch Eli for better or for worse. The book sweeps through several big topics – Oil dynasties, Comanches, ruthless battles over land ownership, cattle ranches and power. The book opens with Eli as a boy, in 1849, as his home is raided by brutal comanches. They abuse and slaughter his family and take him and his brother as captives. We read as he integrates into the tribe and how this experience eventually shapes his life. In the second narrative we follow his son Pete as he raises his family on the McCullough ranch – Eli is now famous throughout Texas – a reputable landowner and a ruthless businessman. Unfortunately Pete doesn’t seem to have the same stomach for business as his father. Jeannie is Eli’s great granddaughter and an oil baroness and we meet her as a elderly woman – rich but alone and in peril.
Brutal, harsh but a pleasure all the same
Reading Meyer’s work is a pleasure – it is brutal, harsh but a pleasure all the same. Each storyline has been so meticulously planned and researched that you cannot help but be hooked. Eli is the ultimate anti-hero, and I was fascinated by his every move. His impact on the future generations is obvious and devastating. All 600+ pages are addictive reading and it i difficult to sum up the saga in a petty review. Just know that it is book which is worth investing your time in.
BTW: I am currently half way through the television show which has slightly changed the plot in places and seems to have deleted the Jeannie character as we see her in the book. Maybe she is yet to appear but I feel like we are missing her chunk of the story – worth a watch but don’t judge the book by the television adaptation. Disappointing that they dropped the only strong female character from the book.
Keep track of the books I am reading here at my bookish Instagram account – Books Northern Ireland.
We were off on holiday for quite a bit of July so it kind of feels like we are back at it now… the big push from August to Christmas! ha!
Anyway, you may not know that I share a weekly Newsletter of content, some of which I blog here and some from other sources around the web. It’s still in it’s infancy but after a July break the Newsletter will re-ignite this week.
This week among other things, I will explain why I had to unsubscribe from Beerbods recently.
You’d make us very happy if you popped your email in to subscribe below… g’wan.
I find myself in that situation more and more in social encounters — skirting round questions in order to avoid an embarrassing argument only to find I’ve caused more awkwardness. It happens not just when I’m asked what I’ve done in the privacy of the polling booth. People increasingly seem to expect me to have firm convictions on almost every story in the news, then get upset not because I voice strong opinions, but precisely because I don’t.
Sites such as Twitter and Facebook have turned into platforms where you can make it quite clear to everybody that you are not a racist, a sexist or a homophobe. Or if you don’t care about being considered a bigot, you can always do the opposite and make a name as a raucous controversialist. This isn’t for the faint of heart. Reputations have been trashed in fewer than 140 characters and once you become known for your outlying views, it’s hard to retreat to more sensible ground. Often it’s best to say nothing.
After everyone finally remembered that it was short for “web log,” Blog was crowned Merriam-Webster’s word of the year in 2004. The Blogosphere gave rise to new approaches to media, journalism, and websites in general. Through services like LiveJournal, Xanga, and Blogger We started archiving our lives online and basically never stopped. Basically, it was cool that we were all privately and publically recording ourselves, until government surveillance made it scary again.
Blogs didn’t look great in 2004. The web didn’t look great in general. It was still very exciting back then though. How things have changed.
I sort of wish I had an image of my first blog from 2004 to have a giggle at… mmm well, maybe not.
If you want to build a ship, dont drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast endless sea.
– Antoine De Saint-Exupery
Something to think about here for businesses, organisations, churches…
Last week I decided to count up how many book I have read this year so far – it came to a very satisfactory 35 books. And since we are half way through the year I have picked out my five favourite books so far. NOTE: this is not a list of the 5 best books published in 2017 so far – this is a personal list of my favourite reads as I came to them. Here we go:
In no particular order:
1/ Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier – And behold I have discover another favourite author. This bunch of short stories are as creepy as they are clever and I was especially pleased to see my homeland of CO. Antrim in Northern Ireland getting a mention in there.
2/ The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – I along with a crowd of others have discovered this book and read it as a reaction to the television show. Gladly I was able to read it before the show started and so far have been very impressed by both. It is a brilliantly written dystopian novel which is a modern classic and worth picking up if you haven’t already.
3/ Nutshell by Ian McEwan – I picked this up in the supermarket following two heavy, serious reads and Nutshell was the perfect antidote. It focuses on an unborn child in its mothers womb who narrates the story of his fathers demise. Yip, it certainly is unique and darkly funny.
4/ The Optician of Lampedusa by Emma Jane Kirby – This book is a beautiful and shocking all at once. It starts with a promising day off where friends head out on a leisurely boat trip. the afternoon takes a turn when the holidayers realise that the ocean is full of people – people displaced by conflict who are desperate to find safety and a new home. An unforgettable true story which is brilliantly told. If you read anything this year make it this.
5/ Perespolis by Marjane Satrapi – A graphic biography which introduces us to a girl growing up in Iran during the years of the Islamic revolution. An incredible account which is charming and informative and a quick and easy read. The illustrations are gorgeous.
So there you have it. The best five books which I have read this year so far. Honourable mention to Hot Milk by Deborah Levy, My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal and The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie.
Would you look at the state of this…
The picture is Stormzy. Not Lukaku. They maybe look a little alike but really?
Remember that time the dumbass guy on TV thought Samuel L Jackson was Laurence Fishburne. Yea. That.
And this kind of thing happens all the time. Locally, globally. Low profile. High profile.
Journalists, editors, print teams. They really do suck these days.
Nobody is perfect. I’ve made mistakes that ended up being printed. I get it.
But I feel like this is unacceptable.