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Tag: I Can't Believe You Haven't Read

Top Reads… Summer 2021 Edition

Some books are good enough to recommend to friends, others you’re happy to forget. A handful are so good that you can’t contain yourself when someone you know would love it, confesses they haven’t read it.

“I can’t believe you haven’t read it. You must read it, tonight. I will be calling with questions,” you say.

Maybe you said it a bit too loud for the fancy wine bar you’re sitting in. Maybe you’re a bit too close to their face. Maybe you shouldn’t have grabbed them by the collar.

You’ve lost control. It physically hurts you to hear that they haven’t read it.

Here are several books that trigger that reaction in me.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

David Mitchell knows how to write with a certain fantastical edge that reminds me of Haruki Murakami — if Murakami was an endearingly self-deprecating British bloke.

(Seriously, watch this interview of Mitchell with Neil Gaiman, and tell me you don’t love the man for his lack of ego and being a fanboy over Neil.)

Cloud Atlas is my favourite of Mitchell’s books. It’s essentially a series of shorter stories nested inside one another like a russian doll.

An ill man on an 18th century sailing ship, trying to get back to his loved one. An oppressed clone-waitress who stumbles across freedom and resistance fighters in Neo-Seoul. A wildman struggling to save his tribe in the ruins of post-apocalytic jungles.

The writing is beautiful, and in this one book you get at least half a dozen unique styles from the various stories-within-stories. The deep layers of storytelling have something new every time I read it. Quite possibly the book that changed me most.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Probably as close to a perfect story as I can imagine. Not in plot or length or character, but in its totality. It is a love letter to the imaginarium of Gaiman’s own childhood.

A young boy moves to a large house in the countryside with his parents. He finds that a strange group of women live at the edge of the lane. They claim to have come from across the pond in their garden long ago, which they call “the ocean”, from a distant place called the Old Country.

A simple, elegant fairy tale that will follow you off the page.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

I’ve only read this one recently, but it hit me like a tonne of bricks. It’s not a long book, but it paints in such bold and powerful strokes that it feels like you know everything about the world.

Addie LaRue is betrothed to marry. But she has never been one to submit. She would do anything to avoid the fate of her friends, who grow tired and older, saddled with chores and children. She wants to explore, to live!

So she makes a deal with the dark spirits that come out at night — the ones she has been told she must never pray to.

The deal is simple: she will never die. Only when she no longer wants to live can the spirit have her soul.

But all deals have a price. Hers is that nobody will remember her, ever. As soon as they lose sight of her, all memory of her existence is erased.

Addie inhabits a private hell for centuries, fighting a battle of wills with the dark spirit that wants her soul, until she meets Henry in New York. The first person who in hundreds of years who can, somehow, remember her.