April 10, 2015, Posted by Tom in Books Worth Staring At

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

 Only the very best books get the ‘Books Worth Staring At’ sticker, and here’s the latest to achieve this…

The book: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Published: 2015, by Canongate

Why we loved it: Depression isn’t exactly an easy thing to talk about, as the (wrongful) stigma that surrounds all aspects of mental health can be quite overpowering. But that shouldn’t be the case. With depression now the leading cause of death for men under 35, it’s time we learnt to talk about this issue.

Huge credit must therefore go to novelist Matt Haig for writing the excellent Reasons to Stay Alive. It’s kind of a memoir, kind of a self-help guide, with Matt describing his experience of depression that began in Ibiza when he was 24, and the road to recovery that has led him to being one of Britain’s most celebrated authors. As you’d expect, it’s sometimes a difficult and dark read, but it’s also a very funny, warm and full of hope.

Talking about depression is essential, and books like Reasons to Stay Alive are vital for getting the conversation going.

To find about more about this book, there’s a brilliant extended extract on Guardian Books.

reasonsFollow Matt on Twitter: @matthaig1

March 27, 2015, Posted by Richard in Books Worth Staring At

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

Only the very best books get the ‘Books Worth Staring At’ sticker, and here’s the latest to achieve this…

The book: A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

Published: 2015, by Tinder Press

Why we loved it: This is one of those novels which grabs you on page one and damn well refuses to let go. Based loosely on Gale’s own family history, we follow young chap Harry Cane drifting through life in turn-of-the-century Edwardian England, making the decisions he’s expected to make, until he falls in love with the wrong person… Forced to abandon England for Canada, Harry must learn to make a new life for himself.

What’s so extraordinary about this book is how Gale manages to establish an incredible sense of place – from the bustling British streets to the epic plains of Canada – whilst also creating an intensely intimate and, at times, heartbreaking portrait of a young man striving to survive in the face of increasing adversity. You will find yourself wincing at each punch he takes, cheering at each one he ducks, and coming out the other side with your heart soaring.

PCW

March 18, 2015, Posted by Beau Merchant in Books Worth Staring At

High Rise by JG Ballard

Only the very best books get the ‘Books Worth Staring At’ sticker, and here’s the latest to achieve this…

The book: High Rise by J. G. Ballard

Published: 1975, by Jonathan Cape

Why we loved it: As with much of Ballard’s work, High Rise delves into the lives of a cut-off society and the degeneration of those who inhabit it. The society in question here are the residents of an ultra-modern apartment block, where every need is catered for (schools, pools, gym, shops, the lot). As there is little need to leave, the tenants soon become isolated from the rest of humanity, and what start as petty arguments soon become full-on, bloody fights between the floors.

There are soon power failures, brutal deaths and, as food becomes a scarce, dogs are eaten. Beautifully written, gripping and absorbing.

highrise

March 16, 2015, Posted by Tom in Books Worth Staring At

Pure by Andrew Miller

Only the very best books get the ‘Books Worth Staring At’ sticker, and here’s the latest to achieve this…

The book: Pure by Andrew Miller

Published: 2011, by Sceptre

Why we loved it: Pure is a properly unusual and original tale. Imagine you’re a young bloke, an engineer to be precise, looking to make your mark in late eighteenth century Paris, and the authorities summon you to Versailles with a problem. Les Innocents, a burial ground in Paris, is quite literally overflowing with corpses, and they want you to sort it out.

This takes our hero, Jean-Baptiste Baratte, on a bizarre, testing, gruesome and often quite dangerous journey, as he and his team of workers must destroy the cemetery and church and cleanse the landscape. Not only that, but he must deal with some hostile locals and navigate the often quite seedy world of 1780s Paris.

Gripping, incredibly well-written and always entertaining, Pure is a unique read that quite rightly won the Costa ‘Book of the Year’ award. Well worth digging up.

Pure

March 8, 2015, Posted by Tom in Books Worth Staring At

A Russian Journal by John Steinbeck

Only the very best books get the ‘Books Worth Staring At’ sticker, and here’s the latest to achieve this…

The book: A Russian Journal by John Steinbeck (with photographs by Robert Capa)

Published: First published in the US in 1948, our edition published by Penguin Modern Classics in 1999

Why we loved it: John Steinbeck is quite rightly regarded as a literary icon for his fiction. However, with A Russian Journal he shows that he’s also an engaging non-fiction writer, as he and his good friend, photographer Robert Capa, travel to the Soviet Union to explore what it’s really like following the fall of the Iron Curtain.

He remarks early on that ‘the most dangerous tendency in the world is the desire to believe a rumour rather than pin down a fact’, and with US-Soviet tensions strained at the time of his adventure, Steinbeck manages to pin down the truth about ordinary Russian people: these are kind-hearted, welcoming people who are determined to make successful lives for themselves and their families.

It’s bloody funny too. In fact, the one chapter written by Capa, ‘A Legitimate Complaint’, is one of the highlights, as he picks apart Steinbeck and his faults in the way that only genuinely good friends can.

We’ve all read Steinbeck’s fiction masterpieces, but to see another side of his writing it’s well worth giving this a try.

russianjournal

https://www.menwhostareatbooks.co.uk/wp-content/themes/press