May’s Reading List

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Really getting into this reading thing.

I’ve actually had to hold myself back from starting the next book on my list as I find myself disabled from doing anything else once I’ve started reading a new book.  I just can’t bring myself to do anything else with my time until I’ve finished whatever I’m reading.  It’s very bad for productivity!

The latest two books I’ve read read are ‘White Teeth’ by Zadie Smith and ‘A Million Little Pieces’ by James Frey.

1) ‘White Teeth’ by Zadie Smith

In my last book review post I talked about Zadie Smith’s latest novel ‘NW’ and said that it wasn’t really my cup of tea.  A friend persuaded me that her previous work was quite different and lent me her debut novel ‘White Teeth’.  Having not really enjoyed ‘NW’ I did put this book on the back burner for a while, especially as it’s a particularly thick one.  Hearing Zadie Smith name dropped by Lena Dunham in her TV show ‘Girls’ persuaded me that if Lena liked her I should definitely give her another go.  So I got stuck in.

Would I now read another Zadie Smith book? Definitely.  This book totally changed my opinion, I can’t believe this was her debut!  The book follows the lives of two intertwined families from different cultures living in North London.  It begins in 1975 when we see Archie attempt to take his own life.  When he is foiled by a halal butcher who is irritated that he is blocking up his business’ delivery area Archie realises he didn’t actually want to die and sets off on his journey to improve and enjoy his life.

The book follows the intertwined lives of Archie’s family and his best friend Samad’s family. It’s written beautifully and explores themes of cultural identity and faith with an equal mix of humour and poignance.  If you like books with vibrant and thought-provoking characters then ‘White Teeth’ will blow your mind.

2) ‘A Million Little Pieces’ by James Frey

‘A Million Little Pieces’ is excruciatingly painful to read in places… in a good way… I think?!  The ‘story’ starts with the main character, James, waking up on board an aeroplane with his front 4 teeth missing, covered in blood, urine and sick, with no recollection of how he got there.

I say ‘story’ as although the book was published as a memoir there was some outrage when The Smoking Gun uncovered the ‘truth’ behind the book and published an article titled ‘A Million Little Lies: Exposing Frey’s Fiction Addiction‘ which accuses Frey of embellishing details and wholly fabricating parts of the book.  I read into it a little and it’s still unclear to me exactly how much of the book is true and how much is fictional, I think Frey was a little vague!

Whether fact or fiction A Million Little Pieces is an exciting, emotional, and uncomfortable read.  The book begins with Frey coming home in pieces after a drug and alcohol fuelled binge.  Aware that his life has spiralled shockingly out of control and that his body is close to giving up Frey allows his parents to check him into rehab.

The book follows Frey’s difficult and painful journey through rehab.  The language the book is written in is easy to read, and yet the subject matter is far from easy – it’s downright torturous at times!  There were times when I had to pause from reading as I was gritting my teeth and wincing too much.  Whether fact or fiction A Million Little Pieces is one hell of a roller coaster ride and not one for the squeamish or fainthearted.