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Sample Sunday: Rain, Girls and Goldfinches

Sample Sunday is an opportunity to check all the books on my shelves and decide what to keep

It’s many weeks since I last have a rummage around my shelves of owned-but-unread books for a Sample Sunday post. From the section of titles all beginning with the letter G, I’ve chosen just three books to sample before deciding whether to let go or keep. Let’s see what you make of my decisions.

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

Tan Twan Eng’s debut novel was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007. Set in Penang, 1939, this book presents a story of betrayal, courage and love through a friendship that develops between a half English/half Chinese boy and a Japanese diplomat. Their relationship is put under pressure when Japan invades Malaysia.

The Verdict: Keep. I’ve seen some comments that Tan can be heavy handed in his use of historical information but it’s nevertheless an impressive piece of fiction.

The Girl Before by J P Delaney

A psychological thriller architect who exerts control over the people who get to live in one of his minimalist houses. He dictates his tenants are not to fill it with books, photos, clutter or personal effects of any kind. Surprisingly some people are willing to agree to those terms. The book focuses on the experience of two women who separately occupy the house.

The Verdict: Ditch. This doesn’t sound particularly interesting. I can’t even remember buying it let alone why.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Bought at a time when I was preparing to go on a long international flight for which I thought I’d need a long and absorbing novel. But the trip got cancelled and I never got around to reading this. It won Tartt the Pulitzer Prize in 2014. Reviews on Goodreads mention that it’s over long at 900 pages of tangled, convoluted plot. One reviewer described it as “an entertaining, boldly plotted but ultimately implausible and somewhat sentimental fairy tale.”

The Verdict: Undecided. The length is off-putting but if the novel really is as good as the Pulitzer judges and many other literary critics, deem it to be, then it won’t feel overly-long.

Sample Sunday is when I take a look at all the unread books on my shelves and decide which to keep and which to let free. The goal isn’t to shrink the TBR as such, but rather it’s about making sure my shelves have only books I do want to read. What do you think of the decisions I’ve reached? If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to hear from you.

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