Sunday 10 August 2014

How do you choose what to read?

La Baule first thing in the morning
I recently went to France with my family for two weeks; an opportunity to catch up on reading plus to acquaint myself with the beach, fresh pains au chocolat at breakfast and rosé wine at dinner. My Kindle ‘to be read’ list is pages long, but why did I choose to download and read these books before the others? All were recommended by word of mouth.

Bridget Jones: Mad about the Boy by Helen Fielding

Recommended to me by a writing friend and I wanted to start the holiday with something light. I’d read reviews saying it wasn’t as good as the other Bridget Jones books and I thought it wouldn’t be the same without Darcy. This book is hilarious in places. Helen Fielding is clever too as she picks up on current trends such as Twitter (which she gets completely right) and if you’re a parent, you may find her observations amusing.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

This summer’s hit, a historical novel set in Amsterdam in 1686 has been mentioned all over Twitter and in newspapers and magazines. But I bought it because someone at the RNA Conference recommended it to me over breakfast when I said I liked Tracy Chevalier’s novels. Jessie Burton writes beautifully and is a gifted storyteller. If you like Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier and/or Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach, you'll probably enjoy The Miniaturist.

Article in the Daily Mail about Jessie Burton's success and her agent, Juliet Mushens talks about how to write a bestseller.

Blog post by Jessie Burton about how she got her agent.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

This doorstop of a novel is set mainly in New York, a reason I loved it so much. It follows Theo Decker from the age of thirteen and involves a 1654 Fabritius painting (don’t want to give any spoilers so will stop there...) and there’s something a bit ‘Catcher in the Rye’ about it. My neighbour recommended this to me because my Book 2 is about a painting. I love the way Donna Tartt writes-her descriptions are wonderful and she creates fantastic characters.

Article in the Independent about The Goldfinch

Before I go, I’m excited to tell you that I’m updating Twitter and Facebook on behalf of The Historical Novel Society ("HNS") in the run up to the conference, 5-7 September in London. I’m also going and can’t wait! There will be some brilliant speakers and workshops-Jessie Burton (who wrote The Miniaturist mentioned above) is on the panel for ‘Confronting Historical Fact with the Unexplained’ and she’s giving a talk with Jay Dixon on ‘The Importance of Place’. You can follow the HNS on Twitter @histnovsoc #HNSLondon 14 and Facebook. If you’d like to book for the conference, you can register here


  1. Interesting to see your choice, Anita - I definitely want to read The Miniaturist as it's exactly the kind of historical I enjoy (I like Tracey Chavalier too). Wish I was going to the HNS conference!

    1. The Miniaturist is a great read Rosemary and I'm sure you'd enjoy it if you like Tracy Chevalier's books. Wish you were going to the HNS conf too-would be lovely to see you again.x

  2. How do I choose books? I guess as a book reviewer I read the pitch about the story and if it appeals to me I read and review it. I have so many books on my kindle I will never be able to read then. I ave now stopped buying books in the hope I will catch up. Of course if my favourite authors publishe a new book I just have to have it.

    1. I'm the same with favourite authors and I get their books as soon as they're out. Love it when I discover someone new like Donna Tartt and can read all of their books! My Kindle's full of unread books, but it's an improvement on the huge TBR pile which used to sit by my bed, much reduced but still there...x

  3. I think most of my book choices are from word-of-mouth too. But, it also depends who does the recommending - we don't always like the same things. And I do tend to read authors I love - Paulo Coelho and Ian McEwan are my two favourites who I can read over and over again!

    Best of luck with the conference!

    1. Thanks Melissa! Looking forward to it-there are loads of interesting talks. Yes, meant to say word of mouth as in from those who know my taste in books. I have an Ian McEwan in my bedside TBR pile which must get to!