Move Over, Edward Cullen…

…I have a new inappropriate teen-fiction crush. His name is Peeta Mellark and he’s the hero in the astonishingly fantastic trilogy ‘The Hunger Games’. And then there’s our heroine and undeniable star of the show, Katniss. She’s so wickedly awesome you’ll want to learn how to skin a rabbit just so you can be more like her.

In case I’ve not been clear, I freaking love these books. I lent them to my Mum, they were stolen from her by my Aunt. My 15 year old cousin devoured them, as did her 12 year old brother. They’re currently in the possession of my little brother and I’ve seen his girlfriend eyeing them up. They appeal to all generations and both sexes in equal measure and their political narrative and inescapable sadness keep them free of that ‘Twilight-esque’ saccharine sweetness. When Anna said that they’re amongst the best books she’s read ‘in the last five years’, it confirmed their greatness. The girl has astounding taste in books and isn’t easily impressed-testament to the brilliance of ‘The Hunger Games’.

Ha-I started writing a post about what I’ve read recently (as we haven’t had a proper session chatting all things literary for a long time) and it’s fast turning into a dissertation on the mega-ness of ‘The Hunger Games’…moving swiftly on!

My last post sharing my reading material was after my summer holiday, so I suppose this can be classed as the Winter edition! I wasn’t working for most of December so I had plenty of time to read, though unfortunately not whilst lying on a sun lounger in the Moroccan sunshine…pfft. As always, I don’t profess to have exclusively highbrow taste in reading material…in fact, I think with all the sofa hours I’ve clocked up in the last 6 weeks I may have slid even further into chick-lit territory than normal! That’s where you lovely lot come in though-get recommending!

I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I currently have in my possession two books. ‘Christmas at Tiffany’s’ and ‘Breakfast at Darcy’s’…I know. I KNOW. You can practically guess the plot of both without me going into any detail, can’t you? Suffice to say, they’re both twee, sickly sweet and have unbearably happy endings. There’s diamonds and freshly baked bread and men with brooding eyes and rippling biceps. Predictable escapism…maybe a new name for this particular genre? Neither gave the grey matter a workout, but I would recommend if you’re going to be waiting at the garage whilst your car is being serviced.

Luckily for me, Anna was on hand to up my intellectual rating with the beautiful Christmas present she bought me…

Isn’t it gorgeous? My tattered, annotated, dog-eared copy of ‘The Great Gatsby’ is one of my most treasured possessions and now this collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short stories ‘Flappers and Philosophers’, is right there with it. Can’t bring myself to go near it with a highlighter though… I’ve rationed myself to one tale at a time and it is HARD work. Definitely one of my favourite presents ever. Thank you, K.

At this point it’s worth mentioning (if only to emphasise my fleeting fliratation with high-quality literature) that after the BBC’s stunning adaptation of ‘Great Expectations’ I dusted off the Dickens (snigger) and revisited some of the classics, concentrating on the seasonally appropriate classics. I consider it a positive that I can’t read ‘A Christmas Carol’ without doing so in the voice of Gonzo from the Muppets. I wonder would Charles approve?

Other tomes that have found themselves added to my already groaning bookshelves include ‘Cleo’, only to be tackled if you like cats and don’t mind crying, ‘Dear Charlie’-again with the crying, but so worth it to realise how lucky and loved you are; and ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’-we tried to watch the 2011 adaptation but couldn’t get on with it so I read the book to see if it would help my understanding. Loved the book, still ambivalent about the film. Meh.

Did you get any great reads for Christmas? Discovered any amazing new authors that I need to know about? Come on readers, we know you love it-let’s talk books…

Categories: Books, Your Favourite Posts
49 interesting thoughts on this

48 Comments

  1. Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Heard a lot about the Hunger Games, definitely checking it out! Ahhhh AOW book posts, my absolute fave. Got a kindle for Christmas and have so far read Room by Emma Donoghue which is unputdownable and halfway through The Art Of War by Sun Tsu which is great wisdom for business and marketing as well as the military (no I'm not marching my troops to war)…in the prehistoric world of paper books I have just finished Nemesis by Jo Nesbo (which isn't as good as The Snowman) and have just started Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon which I am LOVING and can tell will be one of my best books of 2012 even though I'm only 44 pages in!

    Px

  2. Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I'm afraid I have to dispute that I have astounding taste in books… I've just finished another Susan Lewis who is my go-to trashy novelist when life gets to much!

    I have read some great stuff lately. Jeanette Subversion "why be happy when you could be normal?" is, as expected, cutting and astounding in equal measure. The biography of Garcia Marquez by Gerald S. Martin took me that little bit further to understanding one of the greats, although heavy going at times.

    Carol Anne Duffy's Rapture is not new I know, but the sort of poetry that makes you look up from your seat, gasp, and read again. Infidel by Ayaan Hirsa Ali about a journey from Somalia is gut-wrenching and makes you reassess your priorities. Currently on "Girl, Reading" by Katie Ward, a tale of seven famous portraits and the women who posed for them.

    Has anyone read Firebrand by Gillian Phillips or any of this fantasy series? Looking for something to fill three gaping Hunger games hole in my life…

  3. Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Jeanette Winterson. Blame auto correct. Although Jeanette Subversion is very apt – I like!

  4. Zan
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    I LOVE the Hunger Games books! My cousin lent them to me when she lived me with last year and I've never read a series so quickly. They're unputdownable (is that a word??) and I'm really intrigued to see if the film can do the book justice.

    I made a sort-of resolution to read more this year – I got so busy last year that I hardly read at all and realised I really missed it.

    I've just finished The Submission by Amy Walden. It's really good, although I didn't think so at first – I've never read a book that made me so angry! I think I ran the whole spectrum of emotions while reading this, but it made me want to read more – I even took it to work to read in my lunchbreak which isn't normal for me. The book is a fictional story about building a memorial on the site of the WTC post-9/11. So automatically I would think people would have strong feelings as it's such an emotive issue anyway. But I found it a really challenging read – in a good way.

  5. Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    After reading Anna's tweets on the subject I ordered Hunger Games from Amazon. I am VERY suggestible when it comes to books. I'm a bit worried I will spend today ordering books that people are mentioning on here, and G will tell me off again because I STILL haven't disabled Amazon One-Click on my phone, which I promised I would do after I ordered 5 books at 3 am because I couldn't sleep.

    ANYWAY, Anna, have you read Trudi Canavan? One of my favourite fantasy authors. She gives good characters, which for me elevates them above some other fantasy. I read all her books in a day, anyway, so they're fairly involving.

    I am currently reading as my tube book A History of Modern Russia by Robert Service. My brother bought it me for Christmas after I expressed a wish to rectify my lack of knowledge on the subject. It's extremely interesting, actually! Although I do feel like an intellectual fraud reading it on the train.

    My bedtime book is Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. This is purely because G tells me it's a fantasy series of FOURTEEN BOOKS, and they're all at least 800 pages long. As a freakishly fast reader, this appeals to me. I'm fed up of books ending in a day or two! So far it's fairly enjoyable, but not gripping especially.

    In a giant pile of Christmas books by my bed are many things I am excited to read. Next in line (after I have spent Sunday devouring Hunger Games*) are Stef Penney, The Tenderness of Wolves and Abraham Verghese Cutting for Stone.

    I LOVE BOOK POSTS!

    K x

    *Is it normal that I have set aside my Sunday afternoon to read Hunger Games uninterrupted, and that I have put this in my diary as "busy"??

  6. Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    PS: Already this post has led to me adding four books to my Amazon wish list. But I haven't ordered them yet. Progress.

    K x

  7. Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    YES Katielase-I get told off for having 1-Click on my phone too! Trudi Canavan is a great rec for a Hunger Games replacement… what about Christopher Paolini and the Inheritance books? They're like the Hunger Games spliced with Lord of the Rings-very clever.

    P, I loved 'Room' and I reckon you'd really like 'Afterwards' and 'Sister' by Rosamund Lupton-they're amazing.

    This is fab-keep it coming!

    x

  8. Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Um, HELLO. When you said Peeta, you meant Gale, right? I mean, Peeta's always getting captured and being all righteous and stuff. All he does is bake. He's practically named after a type of bread. BORING. Gale can skin rabbits and shoot down hovercrafts and when they kiss it tastes of "heat, ashes and misery". That's my kind of storybook romance right there.

    (Currently 36% of the way through the third book, according to my very precise Kindle, so if she ends up with Peeta I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW. Okay? Thanks.)

  9. Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Katielase uninterrupted reading time IS a meeting! With yourself. And the characters.

    Tenderness of Wolves is a beauty. When you read it, remember the author has NEVER SET FOOT ON A PLANE. NEVER BEEN TO CANADA. When you read it you'll understand why my mind was blown.

  10. Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Ha – Anna, I completely thought your Jeanette Subversion was intentional until I saw your second comment.

    At the moment I keep rediscovering authors I like and then having to read as much of their work as possible – last year it was Fitzgerald (love those beautiful hardback editions, Aisling) and Du Maurier, and I'm currently in a bit of a Margaret Atwood obsession after finally getting around to reading the Handmaid's Tale last year and remembering how much I loved Cat's Eye and The Edible Woman as a teenager. Read The Blind Assassin while on hol, and then got Oryx and Crake for Christmas, which I am now reading – very strange, but I'm well and truly sucked-in now.

    I also got Carol Ann Duffy's The Bees for Christmas and keep meaning to dip into it before bed, but unfortunately tiredness keeps getting the best of me. One to aim for tonight, I think.

    Love hearing what people are reading – I've heard a lot about Hunger Games but not quite convinced yet that I want to read it….

    xx

  11. Abi Lady HarHar
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Hunger Games is freaking awesome! I'm a 28 year old who loves teen fiction… is that ok??

    Kirsty – Gale pisses me off… sorry… I'm with Aisling!

    Have read all 3! So quick to read… I didnt put them down… (I love that there are other 'normal' people who read kids books)

  12. Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    ooh… Margaret Atwood. The Handmaids Tale is my favourite-but Alias Grace is a close second. Atwood is a genius.

    Which reminds me-I studied Birdsong at the same time as The Handmaids Tale-have you seen the trailers for the BC adaptation? Heartstopping. I can't wait.

    And Sebastian Faulks' 'Engleby'-definitely worth a read.

  13. L
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    I just posted about my strategies to read more in 2012! Timely since I have Anna Karenina in the go on the Kindle, am halfway through Super Sad True Love Story and have the first of The Hunger Games, new William Boyd and the Time Traveller's Wife out from the library right now so MUST GET READING!
    Really love hearing other people's opinions and recommendations but try not to buy books very much through lack of space and lack of rereading, so library it is.

  14. Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Yes, Christopher Paolini is a good one. And I can also recommend Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy, which I devoured back-to-back on holiday last year. I didn't look up from my lounger for nearly 2 days straight.

    (NB: I have a bit of a thing for fantasy with strong female leads who save the world).

    Oh, I didn't like Engleby SO much (sorry!) but Sebastian Faulk's Human Traces is phenomenal. Controversially, my favourite of his books, and if I ever got round to writing them, probably one of my books that made me, me.

    And yes, Margaret Atwood = genius. I remember my Mum giving me The Handmaid's Tale to read. Brilliant.

    K x

  15. Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Oh Anna, I adore Tenderness of Wolves, it's the most beautiful of books.

    For a bit of chick lit with meaning, try Lucy Dillons Walking Back to Happiness. I had actual tears.

    Anita Diamants 'The Red Tent' is a very interesting read – don't let the subject matter put you off!

    I've been revisiting some books from my childhood – the Jinny series by Patricia Leitch. Pure escapism!

    xxx

  16. Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Oh I love the Handmaids Tale, I recommend it to everyone. I have ordered the Hunger Games for the schools library that I am librarian in and can't wait to read them before the pupils. I have the best job :)

    For my Christmas I got Room by Emma Donoghue, which I loved. The ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson, which is a fab read if a bit distrubing. And The Donor by Helen Fitzgerald, which I didn't enjoy as much as I thought I would but still a good read.

    Im currently reading The Woman who walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle and To Kill A Mockingbird for the 100 time as well as my teenage fiction in the library. Honestly its my job to devour all the vampire/supernatural romance books that I can so I can be sure they are suitable for the pupils.

  17. Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Ice Cream Girls and her other book, The One I Loved Before is v good!

  18. Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    OMG I'm too excited to even read the comments before waffling on. I LOVE THE HUNGER GAMES!!! Genuinely, they're amazing and I think should be compulsory reading for everyone!
    (will go and read properly now and then come back)

  19. Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Oh and Aisling, I actually did read the first HG book lying on a Moroccan sunlounger!

  20. Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Aisling, meant to say – if you loved Tinker Tailor, you should read the rest of the Smiley books. I've been gradually making my way through them from the first one and they're all excellent.

    Will add Alias Grace to my reading list – thanks!

    Looks like I'm going to have to read Room – feel like everyone is mentioning it at the moment…

  21. Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Katielase – I booked the Monday off work after the last Harry Potter book came out because I thought (rightly) I might need to catch up on my sleep after the post midnight purchase reading marathon. So no, setting aside a Sunday afternoon is so normal.

    Penny – READ THEM!

    Kirsty, Abi and Aisling – I've not finished yet (on book 3) but I'm definitely team Peeta. Who WOULDN'T want a man who bakes?!

  22. Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Lee-Ann, I have MAJOR job envy right now!! How amazing???

    Px

  23. Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I don't have time to leave the comment of epic proportions that I want to, but all hunger games fans need to get The Ask and The Answer books by Patrick Ness. Amazing xx

  24. Emily
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Anna, I thought Jeanette Subversion was intentional! And I totally understood who you meant. Good choice.

    I've been doing a lot of Joan Hunter Dunn inspired reading recently – South Riding is soooo much better than that ridiculous thing they did on TV, and really interesting on local politics in the 30s. And I love the Mrs Tim books and other DE Stevenson – a little bit Mary Stewart for those whose mothers' passed on their teenage chick lit tastes. Lovely and easy to read. And I just discovered that Stella Gibbons wrote more than Cold Comfort Farm – Westwood is good. Basically anything remotely Bloomsbury esque in a dream that I actually wear coloured tights and have fantastically erudite conversations rather than black and spend my time wishing I were a better conversaltionalist.

  25. Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I love Twilight, so definitely need to read The Hunger Games. I’m afriad I have not read any of the books in this post, and have only read Time Travellers Wife, from the comments. The Hunger Games and A History of Modern Russia are on my reading list.

    I’m not as well read, as all the other AOWers. I tend to read about ten books a year, and have a penchant for autobiographies, but hate tell all z list celebrity books. I'm not usually a snob, but when it comes to books by Katie Price, I can't help it.

    Just looking at my bookcase and it includes the autobiographies/ biographies: Mandela, The Periodic Table, Constable in Love, Business Stripped Bare by Richard Branson, The Colour Bar (about Seretse Kharma), Gypsy Boy, Che Guevara, Desert Flower (Waris Dirie), Samuel Pepys, A Year in Provence, Barack Obama, and Lorna Sage. Those books make me sound cleverer than I actually am! I hated Gabriel Garcia Marquez One Hundred Years of Solitude, which was my attempt at a high brow novel.

    I keep meaning to send you my Books That Made Me list, but it doesn’t include any fiction, it does include a self-help book, amongst others. I love novels, but I tend to forget them in a couple of weeks, and they simply haven’t made me who I am.

    Recent great fiction reads are The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch, and The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

    xx

  26. Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Katie – I for one would love to read that list!

  27. Zan
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Think I've been persuaded to venture beyond The Handmaids Tale by all these comments! Only ever read that one book by Margaret Atwood (and loved it), the rest always seemed such 'tomes' that it put me off a bit. But maybe I'll check out a couple of others too.

  28. Posted January 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Katie – I would LOVE to read your books that made me, me list!! I can completely see how non-fiction might be more influential on who you are.

    I forgot to mention earlier, apropos of nothing at all, the biggest fiction event on my horizon lately is the UK release of Sharon Penman's Lionheart (it's been out in America for MONTHS, genuinely been considering spending £30 on getting it shipped over to me). If anyone in any way enjoys historical fiction (another one of my weaknesses, historical novels about strong women!), hers is amazing. They're incredibly well researched, so they feel wonderfully real.

    Amy F, I totally took the day off work after the midnight release of HP7!

    K x

  29. Posted January 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Arrh thanks Amy F and Katielase. Will google Lionheart.

    I'm currently reading a biography on Eglantyne Jebb (Save the Children Founder). I submitted an agri-environmental grant application, for the family estate in Shropshire, where she spent her childhood, which resulted in me buying the book on her life.

    It is a fascinating book, includes a love affair and espionage, and in my opinion should be on any feminist's reading list. Happy to post on, to anybody who would like to read it.

    xx

  30. BB
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Ooh I love a book post!

    Have to agrere with all the positive comments on The Hunger Games, read all three books in about a week and LOVED them! Have now been recommending them to all my friends and family.

    I recently read and loved Delirium by Lauren Oliver. It's the first book of a trilogy with the second book out in February – can't wait!

    Another good read is Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson.

  31. Posted January 19, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Feminism, love affairs and espionage? I'm on board with that!

    Katie, if you're interested in Sharon Penman I recommend starting with The Sunne In Splendour or When Christ and His Saints Slept. Actually TSIS was the first book G ever leant me, marking the beginning of me slowly appropriating all his books until he had to move in with me to get them back :-p

    K x

  32. Posted January 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    One knows one has a problem when one has a temper tantrum at the library online reservation system for saying "you have reached the maximum number of reservations"

  33. Zan
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Arrghhh…. I suspect due to all the great recommendations here today I'm going to be several monetary pounds lighter later when I get home and hit Amazon… have started a list and everything!

    (should probably think about utilising the local library a bit more!).

  34. Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    'Arrghhh…. I suspect due to all the great recommendations here today I'm going to be several monetary pounds lighter later when I get home and hit Amazon… have started a list and everything!'

    I now have a AOW wish list!! In fact, could you girls maybe have a think about a AOW Amazon shop….I now Rebecca over at FF has one, and I think it's a splendid idea!

    xxx

  35. Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Does Kindle lending work in the UK? I'm happy to lend my (kindle) copies of the Hunger Games trilogy to anyone who doesn't want to splash the cash.

    Also, without spoiling it for anyone who hasn't read it yet, am I the only one who was disappointed by Mockingjay?

  36. Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    TBW – plans are afoot to open an AOW Amazon shop with all the books we've recommended and that readers recommended!

  37. Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Catherine, I don't have a Kindle but I'm totally open to the idea of lending copies of books to other AOW-ettes by post. Or indeed in actual person if they live in London. If anyone wants to read anything I mentioned, just shout!

    Anna… AOW Amazon shop?! YES. PLEASE. Although under those circumstances I really WOULD have to disable my 1-Click.

    K x

  38. Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I hear a rumbling for an AOW Book Club meet-up or at the very least, a book swap service!

  39. Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    And can your first book club meet-up be in Philadelphia? Thanks!

  40. Posted January 19, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Fab! I may wait to make my purchases then x

  41. Posted January 19, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Book Swap Club! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

  42. Posted January 19, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    YES! AOW book club/swap shop/book cycle of awesomeness… please?!

    I'm sorry for being FAR too excited about this. Please still let me play?

    K x

  43. Posted January 19, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Loving the book club/ book swap suggestions. Count me in.

    Are there enough people for regional meet ups. Say Chester or Liverpool?

    I'm not going to London now till 29th June, and can only afford to travel down about once or twice a year.

    xx

  44. Posted January 19, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Okay I've just missed my train stop through reading all the comments on this post. Big Carol Ann Duffy love. Yes to a Book Club meet surely the London one should be at the Book Club? A little bit of a plug but I did so enjoy reading Little Women/Good Wives this Christmas for Florence Finds book club. Happy Reading.

  45. Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Love all the recommendations! My lovely in laws bought me a set of 6 books, which had, been shortlisted for the Booker prize, for Christmas. The first one I've read, Pigeon English by Stephen , was a fantastic read.

  46. Posted January 20, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I love book posts :)

    Loving the idea of AOW book club, would need to be online for me as im away up in Scotland but happy to recommend or share books.

    Penny – I love my job, I get to read on a daily basis and get paid for it.

    Its so lovely to hear about everyone using their local libraries as well. Especially in the times we live in when a library is seen as an easy service to cut to save money instead of an amazing service and the heart of a community. Please have a look at this link and if any of you are up in Scotland, even if not, leave a comment.

    http://www.lovescottishlibraries.org/

    Hope thats ok

    xx

  47. Roz
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I adore a book post!!

    Being more than two thirds through the Hunger Games (and planning on finishing the trilogy before the end of my hols in Oz) I'm skipping the comments at the mo as I don't want to get into the Gale v Peeta debate yet :D

  48. Posted January 25, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Oops he does have a surname. Pigeon English is by Stephen Kelman. X

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  • By Weekend Wonderings on February 29, 2012 at 12:07 am

    [...]  And films usually screw up books’ storylines.  We know of Team AOW’s love for The Hunger Games.  I really don’t want to love the film.  I was convinced they’d make Katniss [...]

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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