Almost 5* – Our favourite books so far

Hey! Did you know that Turn the page book club is 2 years old? I feel like we should have a party with Jelly and Ice cream and party games, but I can’t be bothered to make Jelly and my freezer is shite, so I have decided to celebrate by sharing a list of our favourite books. Here are the book that scored a collective 4.5* out of 5.

Holes – Louis Sachar

I gorgeous wee book, intended for kids, but written so beautifully that adults are charmed by it too! I gave this my first 5* rating.

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Elizabeth is missing – Emma Healey

Fast forward to August 2015, and this was our 2nd book for the month, it was and unexpectedly beautiful wee book, and all who read it loved it.

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Room – Emma Donoghue

A tough read, with a lot of heartbreaking moments, we fell in love with this book as we fell in love with 5 year old Jack, and wanted nothing more than for him to experience the world outside his room.

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Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel

The book with the beautiful cover, this post apocalyptic story was a big hit with the group. It isn’t what I’d call gritty, but it does make you ponder the future.

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A man called Ove

Wonderful with a capital W, my second 5* book came in December 2015 in the shape of Ove. I loved that cantankerous old git, and cared very much about his life and the fact that he was ready to end it. It was funny, it was sad, it was pretty damn near perfect!

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The boy in the striped pyjamas – John Boyne

It will come as no surprise that we rated this highly, it’s always rated highly, and there is a reason for that, it is so utterly heartbreaking real that you cannot fail to be moved.

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The language of flowers – Vanessa Diffenbaugh

It wasn’t heartbreaking, but had a lot of heart. It also had a lot of flowers, and we found ourselves hoplessly intrigued by the meanings of these flowers. It is not perfect, but I think that the best word for this book is spellbinding.

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Stoner – John Edward Williams

It’s the book where ‘nothing happens’, well nothing significant anyway. Stoner simply lives his life, and we watch him do it. In theory this book sounds dull, but it really pulls you in. This is a remarkable book because it is is beautifully written that it doesn’t matter that there is no plot, we loved it anyway.

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The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project is a joy, it’s funny, it’s full of heart, and it kind of succeeds in explaining to some extent what Asperger’s Syndrome is like from the perspective of someone with it. Think Sheldon from TBBT and you’re part of the way there, it’s just lush.

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The Universe vs Alex woods – Gavin Extence

You’re 17 years old and you have just been stopped coming back into the country with a dead man in your passenger seat and a glove box full of dope, that’s how the book starts, enjoy!

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The Kite runner – Khaled Hosseini

A gorgeous, beautifully descriptive book. The Kite Runner paints a thousand pictures, some are beautiful, exotic and romatic, others are dark and violent, but all evoke emotions. This is a roller coaster ride, and you will be glad that you got on it.

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In cold blood – Truman Capote

This book is really chilling, it’s the story of real life story of Perry & Bobby, who killed a family in Kansas in 1956. The book is written as though it is a work of fiction, but it is not, it is a true life crime and the story was written after Capote spent many hours interviewing the two boys.

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The vanishing Act of Esme Lennox – Maggie O’Farrell

One of my favourite books EVER! I read this years ago and loved it, then it went on the book club list and I worried that on reading it again I would feel differently, I didn’t. For me this is an easy 5*, I adore the characters and the plot is fantastic, the rest of the group loved it too luckily.

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I let you go – Clare MacKintosh

A thriller that thrilled at long last! We were all absolutely thrown by the plot twist and just thought that it was so well written that we all gave it really high scores. There was one part of the plot which I didn’t love so I gave it 4* but it was a definite hit.

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After 2 years and 50+ books we have fourteen 4.5* rated books, I’d say that was fairly successful. Of course we have read some utter crap, but I have only given up on 2 books and to be fair Karen even finished Lolita, so we are a hardcore group of bibliophiles. So, as long as people keep writing them, we’ll keep reading them, and who knows maybe one day we’ll find that illusive 5* book.

Happy Reading!
Mel x

March – Stoner

I can’t believe that it is almost a month since the meeting, time  has slipped away and I am only just getting round to writing this, with April’s meeting on the horizon. March was a very small meeting, but really good fun, to be fair, it always is, whether there are four of us or ten, we always have a laugh. Stoner is a modern classic, which had gone largely unnoticed for years, and then suddenly it found itself in many lists of books that everyone should read, I found it in such a list, I think it was called ‘100 books to read before you die’, but I may be mistaken.

Stoner – John Williams

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I will start by saying that I loved this book. I loved it for all of the things it is not, it is not a trying hard to be funny comedy, a twisty turny thriller or a soppy romance novel, it is simply the story of a man’s life. Stoner’s life is not exciting, it is not remarkable, he does not change the world, but it is real, it is real in a way that books don’t usually cover, I mean really, who wants to read about a man who is nobody in particular, doing nothing spectacular? It turns out I do, and not only me, the other for book club members who attended the meeting loved it too. Stoner is a beautifully written, moving novel which recounts a life, an entire life, and does it in a way that draws you in and makes you want to find out more.

The most remarkable thing about this book for me is that it challenged my perceptions, I was convinced that, in order for me to love a book, I must first love a character in the book, this is simply not true. I felt no particular affection for Stoner, or for anyone else in the book, but the writing is so utterly wonderful that it truly didn’t matter. The rating from those of us that were here was an easy 4.5*, what was surprising though was that two of the club members who couldn’t make the meeting sent their ratings through and both gave it only 2.5*, so it would seem that Stoner is not for everyone, but I would definitely recommend it.

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

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I was looking forward to reading this book, not least because I got a gorgeous wee hardback copy for Christmas and it is just so pretty. I had hoped that The Alchemist would have some profound philosophical effect on me, that would lead to my wanting to walk barefoot through a storm, or give away all of my belongings or some such, it did not. It did not even hold my attention, Santiago embarked on an epic journey, and I just wanted to sleep, if I am honest I was bored, and couldn’t want for it to end, which thankfully didn’t take too long.

The importance of having a dream is the main message of this book, and it’s a good one, I agree, but i didn’t love the writing. I thought it was weak, full of cliches and not at all inspiring, in fact lines like “all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream…” drove me to despair. Oh and also the fact that the author calls the story a fable, does not make it so. I found ‘The five people you meet in heaven’ to be much more thought provoking and poignant. As a group we rated this book 3* I gave it 2.5*, in my opinion there are many better novels to read, and if it’s self help that you are after, there are many books of that nature around as well.

Happy Reading!