Book Reviews

Reading Plans: What’s Tickling My Fancy

The problem with social media and the web is that, though they make information instantly and widely available, all that accessibility puts too much temptation in my way of books I want to get my hands on.

The announcement of the 2016 National Book Awards in the US came with an enticing additional piece of information about an honour that is for authors under the age of 35. Of the six honourees, two immediately caught my attention

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Gyasi is originally from Ghana but has lived much of her live in Alabama. On her first trip to her homeland to research material for a novel about a mother-daughter relationship she found inspiration  for a very different novel, – one that traces the legacy of slavery over eight generations. Homegong is her debut novel – for which she gained a seven-figure advance, a sum most new authors can only dream of achieving.  I seem to enjoy African authors or those who have left the country but retain an affiliation with the mother land so this has gone on my wishlist.  Read more about Gyasi in this Time article.


Transoceanic Lights by S. Li is also calling to me. He was born in Guangzhou, China in 1984 and moved to the US in 1989. According to the publisher it tells of three families who immigrate to the US from post-Mao China. The unnamed narrator’s overbearing mother is plagued with regret as financial burdens and lack of trust begin to rend apart her marriage. Her only solace lies in the distant promise of better lives for her children. Yet her son spends his days longing for the comfort and familiarity of his homeland, while his two cousins, one precocious and the other rambunctious, seem to assimilate effortlessly. Transoceanic Lights explores familial love and discord, the strains of displacement, and the elusive nature of the American Dream.

The earth hums in B flat

Moving closer to home I came across The Earth Hums in B Flat, the debut novel by Welsh author Mari Strachan. I’m trying to do my bit to support Welsh authors so this of course is a title I want to keep on the radar. It’s apparently about the coming of age of a girl in in a small Welsh town in the 1950s where a shocking death occurs. The appeal really for me is that the life of the town is seen via this girl’s eyes.


And finally, a book I learned of via The Book Satchel: A Tale of Love ad Darkness, an autobiographical tale by Israeli author Amos Oz. It’s been hugely popular worldwide with translations into 28 languages.  The book documents much of Oz’s early life, told in a non-linear fashion, weaving his story with the tales of his family’s Eastern European roots. This is a culture and a part of the world on which my knowledge is woefully lacking so i’m hoping this book will help remedy this.

These are all now on my wishlist for Santa (dare not buy anything myself). What have you all found to wish for this week?


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

15 thoughts on “Reading Plans: What’s Tickling My Fancy

  • I can tell you that Homegoing is wonderful. One of my favourites this year.
    The others look good, too. I love the title “The Earth Hums in B Flat”.

  • Sarah

    I do like the look of the Welsh book.That’s going on the wish list straight away – in fact, that might make a good gift idea for my Mum, as she’d also have been a young girl growing up in South Wales when the book was set – bingo! 🙂

  • You won’t catch me complaining about social media and book publicity! I love it!

    • My complaining is very half hearted! If it wasnt for social media etc I wouldn’t get to know even half of what is around – the main newspapers here have so seriously reduced their coverage of books

    • doesn’t it just and I wouldn’t have heard of it except I was browsing the National Book Award site and found it buried

  • How do they come up with their titles 😀 It Is something I often think about… The earth hums in B flat.. Sounds great though, especially since there is a killing in the book 😊

    • sometimes its the author and sometimes it seems to be the publisher but I bet its a topic that takes a signifiant time to resolve

  • You have hit the nail on the head regarding the problem with social media and the internet 🙂

    • Im only pretending its a problem. Actually its a joy to learn what other people are reading because otherwise i wouldn’t get to know anything other than what is being promoted by the big publishers

      • I completely agree! It’s a good kind of problem to have! 😀

  • Homegoing has been on my horizon for some time courtesy of social media but I’d not come across Transoceanic – thanks for alerting me to that. I’m very keen on the immigrant theme. Lots of room for character development and cultural exploration.

    • some of the books that deal with the immigrant theme work better than others – some feel like they are treading too familiar ground but this one seems rather different


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