Clearing the Backlog

I’m so far behind in reviewing that I’m almost paralysed by it. So there’s only one solution: a mass review of books I’ve read over the last 3 months. Here goes:

You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt. I really liked this one. Coming of age against the backdrop of Communist Russia. So many good things about it, if only I could remember it more clearly.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I was disappointed in this one as I am normally a fan of Ann Patchett. It gets off to a really slow start, in my opinion. It does, however, find its footing by about halfway through. If you’re an Ann Patchett fan, you’re going to read this regardless of what I say, but if you’ve not read Patchett before, I might not start here.

Peacekeeping by Mischa Berlinski. In the beginning I loved this book, but ultimately it was a little too long. Set in Haiti, it had a really interesting look at local politics and NGOs. The cover is great though, and i do plan to go back and read Feildwork, one of Berlinski’s earlier novels that I remember loving.

Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch. I really liked Koch’s two previous novels. They had a very Koch feel to them. That feel is lacking in Dear Mr M.  That doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, but if you’re looking for that distinctive Koch uncomfortableness, it isn’t so apparent here. The one thing i did like about it though, is that it’s about a writer. That always gets me.

The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah. If Orange is The New Black were set in a Zimbabwean prison, you might get this book. It is a great book and one that I highly recommend. Propulsive story, great characters, skilled writing.

So there, it’s done. Backlog cleared. Hopefully this means I can get back into the groove.


  1. Most bloggers seem to be loving Commonwealth. I’ve read most of her books, so will probably read this anyway, but now I’m even more curious about it.
    Would love to read The Book of Memory!

    I’ve got a bit of a pile-up of books to write about, too. I might have to go a similar route if it continues. I can just *feel* the relief of getting caught up!

  2. Interested to hear your thoughts about Commonwealth – I’ve only read a sample chapter but I was hooked from the start. A friend, who is a huge Patchett fan, had the same opinion as you, that it wasn’t quite up to standard.

    Also interested in your thoughts on the new Koch. I loved The Dinner – thought it was very clever and well written. Swimming Pool however, left me cold – didn’t like it at all. I wasn’t even going to look at this one but given that it’s about a writer, maybe I’ll reconsider.

  3. Commonwealth and Dear Mr. M are both on my TBR stack. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Commonwealth until now, but you comment about it being slow-going for the first half of the book gives me pause. I’m not a patient reader, so I may make it less of a priority.

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