Monthly Archives: December 2015

#Allmyfriendsaresuperheroes #bookreview

Think of your friends, think of what makes them special, what makes them different to other people, what makes them super – a simple idea but a fantastic book.  What if our personal traits and characteristics made us superheroes?

Meet Tom, he’s not a superhero but all his friends are including his new wife, who can’t see him.  Tom has the duration of a flight to Vancouver to get through to his wife, to become visible again.  During the flight Tom takes us back through his memories of how he met his wife and the weird and wonderful superheroes that make up their family and friends.

This book is quirky and fun to read.  It’s not taxing or deeply philosophical but it might just change your outlook on life.  The superheroes I speak of aren’t Lycra clad with pants on the outside; they haven’t come off the pages of a comic book.  They are to all intents and purposes just like you and me, but with one characteristic heightened.

I first read Andrew Kaufman’s book about 5 years ago.  I instantly fell in love with it.  I saw myself and my friends in a new light after reading the book.  For a short period it made me appreciate the annoying traits people have, because without them they wouldn’t be them.  Cliché I know but actually so very true.  I think I was going through a mid-twenties life crisis when I read it as I became all reflective thinking about each superhero’s power and questioning how I would live and cope if that was me.

I love how Kaufman creates the superheroes seeing aspects of people heightened and drawing out what could be good and what could be bad about them.  The Sloth a guy who had a dead-end job and no plans to get a better one, but who has an amazing power to just say “Fuck it!” The Projectionist who can make you believe whatever she believes, great power till she fell in love with the Inverse.  The Chip, born with a massive chip on her shoulder she develops superhuman strength to carry it around, but can’t use the super strength for anything else until she gets rid of the child and can’t get rid of the chip without using her strength. The Face, the most beautiful woman in the world, but no one can describe her features, her eye colour seeing only her “beauty”.

I’m an organiser, I write lists.  I write lists of things to write lists about and in our household we have organised fun with lists of what we’re going to do.  My other half loves me for it.  I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do that.  I get excited about new notebooks; I jumped with joy at my new To Do pad with a magnet on the back that I can stick to the fridge.  I am forever using online note apps, organising my life and other peoples.  Organisation is without a doubt my superpower.

Part way through the book Kaufmann makes for me the point that the entire books hangs upon.  “The final stage of finding you superhero name is accepting how little difference it really makes”.  We all have things that make us difference, make us special, things we can do better than others, things we don’t do as well as others but when it comes down to it, we have far more similarities and we all “…have to get dressed in the morning” and “Your lover will still leave you if you don’t treat her right”.

I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy this book as much the second time round.  Knowing how it ends definitely took a little of the magic away but the magic of the characters still managed to put a smile on my face and I walked away happy.  Now I think that’s not a bad thing at all.

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A year in review

This year I set myself the target to read 65 books, to date I have read 29.  Whilst I have been known to be a fast reader at times, with 36 books still to read and only 38 hours left of 2015 (of which I am having to spend 13 in work) I don’t think I’ll reach my target.

For some having read 29 books this year would be an achievement, on average it’s still nearly 2.5 books a month but for me it’s a disappointment.  Why? Because I have a heaving bookcase at home full of books I want to read.

But I’ve struggled this year.  I don’t know if it has been my choice of books, my method (switching between Kindle and hard copy depending on commuting transport), or something else entirely but I’ve failed to get hooked.

So what have I managed to read this year…

The year started well with the Fareer Trilogy by Robin Hobb, I loved those books and couldn’t put them down.  These were quickly followed by Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronvitch – an enjoyable book but not as good as the previous ones in the Peter Grant series, I hope in the next he brings the story back to the streets of London.  Blacklands by Belinda Bauer and The Woods by Harlan Coben were next, both quite dark and following them I needed something a little lighter so I turned back to free books on my Kindle.  March saw me read Mixed Signals by Ivy Raine (don’t ask), Five Children and It by E. Nesbit, Double Dare, Rhonda Nelson and If I Break, Portia Moore.

At the beginning of April I got engaged, I didn’t realise at the time but my life must have become over taken with wedding planning that month as I didn’t read a single thing!  And then I made possibly my biggest error of the year, my choice to get me back into reading…Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.  I know so many people who love this book, my husband Alex being one of them, but I struggled so much.  Given the choice I think I would have walked away after a few chapters but Alex had enjoyed it so much he pretty much begged me to stick with it.  I wish I hadn’t.  I found it so hard going and broken up that I never got into the flow of reading.

The year progressed with The Taxidermist’s Daughter, Kate Mosse, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins – possibly the most overrated book of the year).  The Beautiful and Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald, another heavy hitting book followed by The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith. Hmmmm as I write this list I can see clearly where I went wrong this year.

The summer saw me reading The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton, The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch and Police by Jo Nesbo.  I think took an usual turn for me and read a non-fiction book.  I love learning about the areas where I live and work and a friend in work recommended Diamond Street: The Hidden World of Hatton Garden by Rachel Lichtenstein to me.  It was a very interesting read, told in a story-telling manner which made it easier to work through than some history books.

August I returned to the books of Scott Lynch with the 2nd in the series of the Gentleman Bastards, Red Seas under Red Skies.  It didn’t have the same appeal as the first although definitely worth reading.  With the release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman I went back to my teenage years and re-read To Kill a Mockingbird followed by the new one.

God’s Spy, Juan Gomez-Jurado, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, Rachel Joyce and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman guided my through September and in October I escaped to the continent with Us by David Nicholls.  The last two months have been slow going, having loved Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro I picked up his possibly more famous book The Remains of the Day.  Whilst I did enjoy the book I didn’t find it as captivating as his others and found myself reluctantly reading which is never a good thing.

The year has been rounded off with the 3rd book in Scott Lynch’s series The Republic of Thieves and a festive tomb in the form of A Christmas Tail by Cressida McLaughlin.

My aim for next year, to read more than I did this year and not to trouble myself with completing books I’m not enjoying.  To give me a boost I’m actually starting the year with a book I’ve read before and loved.  Going back to the beginning it’s Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin, the first in the John Rebus series.

 

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