While it’s lovely to be invited to write a few words about my favourite books, it’s also a tricky exercise, perhaps somewhat like picking a favourite child…
I recommend Helen Simpson’s illuminating short stories. She captures so many unsaid and unsayable truths about parenthood in Hey Yeah Right Get A Life. I love the way short stories can explore ideas and territory that wouldn’t be sustainable in novel length manuscripts. I particularly like the strange and beautiful worlds of Adam Marek and Robert Shearman in The Stone Thrower and Tiny Deaths respectively.
I enjoyed Heft by Liz Moore and The Night Rainbow by Claire King – both writers withhold information, encouraging the reader to work things out. I like books that make me laugh and books that make me cry: Charlotte Mendelson’s Almost English is a gorgeous, comic novel, while James Scott’s The Kept is bleakly beautiful.
When it comes to rereading, I think I’ll always enjoy revisiting the opening chapters of The Stone Diaries. It’s the book that helped me realise it was okay to write about ordinary things and ordinary people. I also intend to revisit Nathan Filer’s The Shock of the Fall, a novel that had my full attention from the opening sentence.
At the moment I’m reading A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Irving’s characterisation is wonderful and I can tell it’s going to be one of those rare books that leaves me feeling bereft when I reach the final page.
My current to-read pile is enormous. Two books I’m especially looking forward to are Tenth of December by George Saunders which I bought after reading ‘The Semplica Girl Diaries’ in The New Yorker and A Girl is a Half-formed Thing which I bought because of some really enthusiastic comments by friends on Facebook.
Carys at Word Factory:
Carys Bray’s debut short story collection Sweet Home won the Scott Prize in 2012. Her debut novel A Song for Issy Bradley will be published by Hutchinson in June 2014. Carys teaches at Edge Hill University where she is completing a Creative Writing PhD. She lives in Southport with her husband and four children.