I fully understand that many of his books are "same-y" – though I honestly couldn't care less. I love Murakami's distinctive style, his trademark motifs and his familiar characters. In fact, there's not a book of his I haven't enjoyed. I recently finished Sputnik Sweetheart, and upon finishing I thought: is there anything by this author I wouldn't read? Right now I can say there really isn't.
Margaret Atwood is truly one of our greatest living novelists. She just has this wonderful capacity for crafting interesting and original plots without compromising the complexity of her characters. Every book she has written has left me a really contemplative mood, and I have complete faith that anything else she chooses to write will do just the same.
What I love about Neil Gaiman's work is that he explores reality through the use of the fantastical. He writes these wildly imaginative and inventive tales, and yet they always have an emotional basis that enables the reader to connect to them. Regardless of the plot, or the characters, or the setting, I always find a way to relate to Gaiman's work – and that's why I'd read anything by him.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
I think part of the reason I'd read anything by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is because I really respect and admire her as a person. Her short essay We Should All Be Feminists is just one of those things everybody should read. Her thoughtfulness always translates into her fiction, which is why she could write anything and I'd happily read it.
The Jackson Brodie Series was one of my favourite series for years; I loved the meticulous plotting and the delicate characterisation. However, it wasn't until the release of Life After Life that I realised what a fantastic storyteller Atkinson really is. She tells her stories in such a fascinating way that I can't help but want to read everything she ever decides to pen.
I'm really beginning to believe that Michel Faber is capable of writing absolutely anything. From a Dickensian epic on the life of a prostitute in Victorian London, to a tale of aliens harvesting human meat – he's an insanely versatile author. Though he said that The Book of Strange New Things is his last book, I'll definitely be seeking out anything by him that I've yet to read.
Like a lot of the 'Harry Potter Generation', I'm blindly loyal towards J.K. Rowling. I will read anything and everything she writes. It's just a simple fact: if it's written by JKR, I'll be reading it.
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber, the best book I've read so far this year, did exactly that. The narrator, a literary seducer of sorts, ensnares the reader from the very beginning – "Watch your step. Keep your wits about you; you will need them." Needless to say, it’s not long before the reader's completely engulfed in Faber’s Victorian London. This book preoccupied my mind in a way I can’t quite describe; it had a captivating energy about it, the kind that enabled a peculiarly intimate relationship between myself and the characters. Ultimately, this book reminded me of the pure, unadulterated delight that comes hand in hand with escapism.
And, when I think back to many of my other favourite reads, they've all been very similar in that respect; it seems I love nothing more than to be completely enveloped in an author's world. It feels so painfully obvious to talk about Harry Potter, though I will – and for good reason too. HARRY POTTER is a series that just clicks with so many people, myself included. All it takes is for a reader to crack the spine of one the books, and they've apparated into a loveable and familiar world. For me, the series is the very definition of escapism – and I'm sure many will agree with me on that.
So, yes, I love books that are truly engulfing. A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki is another book that completely absorbed every element of my being; I felt involved in the character's lives in an unimaginably genuine sense. It's books like Ozeki's I truly adore; the kind that captivate you so entirely that you're unable to fathom how your reality can be separate from the book's reality.
Under the Skin makes for a completely surreal reading experience; it's wildly original, beautifully written and utterly unforgettable. The character of Isserley is unlike any other, and her tale is unpredictable from start to finish. Admittedly, the first two thirds of the novel are incredibly slow-paced – though it picks up considerably near the end, given there's the 'big reveal'. Essentially, this is a book that will (pardon the pun) really get under your skin; it's deeply affecting, thoroughly exhilarating and the ending will haunt your mind for days afterwards. I don't want to say much else (in fear of spoilers), so I'll just say this: Under the Skin is a thrilling, lyrical, genre-defying read, and I just loved the sheer insanity of the whole thing. ★★★★
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is not, contrary to what the titles says, a book solely about running. In fact, you don't have to be a runner to enjoy it – just, preferably, a Murakami fan. I've always found him to be an incredibly interesting person, and this memoir, if anything, has further piqued my interest in him. Though only a short read, it offers glimpses of great profundity throughout, and I was surprised by the sheer depth of some passages. Whilst I wasn't hugely invested in the passages on running, I found his discussions about the writing process fascinating, and I was stunned by his thoughtfulness and humility (especially when he admitted he doesn't see himself as a 'natural writer'). This said, the book did feel a bit disjointed – given it was written in chunks over the course of a few years – and this slightly marred the reading process. ★★★½
The Buried Giant is a very frustrating read in many ways. Ishiguro is a wonderful writer, there’s no doubt about that. He crafts beautiful and sincere sentences, each of which is full of meaning. In fact, I found so many passages of this book to be so simple and yet so thoughtful (“But then again I wonder if what we feel in our hearts today isn't like these raindrops still falling on us from the soaked leaves above, even though the sky itself long stopped raining. I'm wondering if without our memories, there's nothing for it but for our love to fade and die.” ) However, there was one thing that stopped me from enjoying this book: the characters, or rather my inability to connect to them. A crucial part of the book is the relationship between Beatrice and Axl, an elderly couple. In short: I didn’t find either of the characters particularly engaging, and consequently felt disconnected from both their relationship and their story. Whilst The Buried Giant offered a profound exploration of memory and how we deal with the past, I ultimately had difficulty appreciating this theme when it was conveyed through two characters I fundamentally struggled to connect with. ★★½