Saturday, 25 April 2015

What I've Been Reading Lately

I've read some good books lately on my morning commute, here's a few recent favourites.

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

This memoir details the year Rakoff spent after graduation, working for a literary agent in New York in the mid '90s. The agency is stuck in the past and rejects modern technology in favour of old fashioned methods such as dictaphones and typewriters. One of Joanna's tasks is to reply to all of 'Jerry's fan mail'. She eventually realises Jerry is JD Salinger, the famously reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye and other novels.

I really enjoyed this account, which at times reminded me of the work experience I spent at an art book publisher in London when I was a student.

Displacement by Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley is one of my favourite graphic novelists. Her first book French Milk documents a foodie trip to Paris with her mother, and her latest is another travelogue, this time recording the time she spent on a cruise with her ageing grandparents.

At first the trip seemed like a lovely idea, spending more time with her grandfolks who are both in their nineties, but the trip proves as challenging as it does rewarding.

Some parts of the story definitely reminded me of my grandma who sometimes seems to take quite a negative outlook on life and is obsessed by the weather!

Clothes, Music Boys by Viv Albertine

I loved Viv Albertine's biography. Albertine was a guitarist in punk band The Slits and her memoir is in a word - honest. She spares no detail as she explains what it was like to grow up during punk, from hanging out with Sid Vicious to staying with junkies in squats in Amsterdam. There's also a funny chapter about her liaison with actor Vincent Gallo! I heard that Albertine is now writing a follow-up which I can't wait to read.

Have you read anything good lately?


  1. I read My Salinger Year last week and really enjoyed it - I loved the way she evoked mid-90s New York, pre-internet-boom, just as the hipsters were bedding down in Brooklyn. And The Agency just seemed such a weird and archaic place to work.

  2. I have just finished reading three books: Elizabeth is missing (extremely good), The Casual Vacancy (I'm a little undecided) and Free Country: A penniless adventure the length of Britain (which is about two guys who decide to cycle from Lands End to John O'Groats but without any money whatsoever, instead relying on the generosity of the British public to furnish them with all they need. They set out in just their's extremely funny)

    1. I like the sound of A Penniless Adventure!! Just looked up Elizabeth is Missing and that also sounds good, it's gone on my list.

    2. I loved Elizabeth is Missing too. A different sort of mystery story to the usual detective tales. Brilliant debut novel!

  3. I just bought Girl In A Band by kim Gordon from sonic youth- reads quite similar to Viv's memoir. I also bought smoke gets in your eyes - can't remember the author but it's a memoir of a mortician (female musician memoirs and morbid subject matters are my two favourite types of non-fiction!). I'm currently reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck and it's pretty brilliant: I thought it would be hard to get into and the size put me off but it's a really well written family saga.

    1. Yes Girl in a Band is on my list too! Ah cool I'll have to try East of Eden as well. I've heard of the podcast 'Ask a Mortician' but didn't know there was a book by the same woman, will check it out!


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