52 Weeks: 52 Books – June

I’ve reached the halfway point in the 52 Weeks:52 books challenge in terms of time, but I’m still well short of halfway in terms of books read. July and August really need to be months of Awesome Readingness to get me back on track. During June I read

Book 18: Sarah Rayner – The Two Week Wait

Book 19: Clare Mackintosh – I Let You Go

I also strongly feel that I read something else, but I can’t remember what it was so I can’t get the points for it. Given that I’m seven books behind schedule this is deeply frustrating, but I’ve rifled through the book shelves and bedside table and scrolled through my kindle and I can’t work out what it might have been. Clearly, I’ve either made the whole experience up, or it was a seriously unmemorable read.

Both the books I do remember reading covered big emotive subjects. The Two Week Wait is about infertility and IVF and looks at egg and sperm donors. I Let You Go looks at the aftermath of the death of a child in a hit and run incident. As a writer I firmly believe that emotion is everything. You can have all the whizzy bangy plot in the world going on, and all the amusing japes you can think of, if the main characters’ emotional stories aren’t right the whole thing ends up feeling a little bit flat.

For me that was exactly what Clare Mackintosh gets right in I Let You Go. A lot of the reviews I’ve seen have focused on the twisty-turny plotting, but to be honest that wasn’t the thing that I fell in love with in this book. It’s beautifully done and works very well, but the thing that drew me in was the emotional story, and the way in which all the major characters are nuanced and flawed. Nobody is 100% good or 100% bad. With the most repellent character in the story Mackintosh uses a first person narrative voice to put you inside the character’s view of the world. It’s chilling, but makes him three-dimensional in a way that viewing him from the outside might not. I Let You Go is already a massive bestseller, and deservedly so – if you haven’t read it already I heartily recommend it, with only a small hint of insane depression about how this is Clare Mackintosh’s debut. First books really shouldn’t be this good; it’s terribly discouraging for the rest of us.

Even though I only read (or at least only remember) two books this month, I think the books I have read have reignited my enthusiasm for the 52 Weeks: 52 Books project. Part of the idea, in addition to rediscovering the reading joy, was that good writers need to read, and this month I’ve definitely felt as though the reading was feeding into my writing brain, rather than distracting from writing, which is excellent. So now I just need to read 11 books in July to get back on schedule. Eeeek.

Feel free to tell us what you’re reading in the comments, and if you’re stuck for a book then this is a jolly good place to start.