The first thing I did when we moved to London was to buy a Kindle, to be able to read all the French books I wanted without having to wait for Amazon.fr to deliver them – at the time I did not know the trick (thanks Helene!) to order them from Amazon.co.uk; and I was very French-centric in my reading choices.
But recently, it occurred to me that it was all very good to boast about having lived in the UK for nearly 20 years, but that it was a disgrace not to have better knowledge of English literature, old or new! So finding nice English books is my new crusade, and I thought it would be nice to share some recent finds , often not translated yet in English.
First the classics , which you can definitely find translations for, but which are so much nicer to read in English! I am a big fan of 19th French century novels (Zola, Flaubert, Proust and the likes) but 19th century English literature just does not compare, it is just fabulous! Maybe because it is women-dominated; or maybe because the world described it so different from the French one, I don’t know. Among my favourites: all the Bronte novels, all the Jane Austen novels, Rebecca by Daphne du Laurier, A Christmas Carol by Dickens.
As for more recent books , it took me ages to find a source of good recommendations (no “Le Monde des Livres” here I’m afraid). The FT Weekend works well for me – the edition is massive so to find your way, the book recommendations are within the “Life and Arts” section. It covers all type of literature, not just economy and finance.
My favourites novels:
- A god in ruins by Kate Atkinsons – and in general all the Kate Atkinsons novels ( Behind the scenes at the museum , Life after life , her latest is Transcription but I haven’t read it yet)
- Somebody I used to know by Wendy Mitchell
- Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, and her more recent Whistle in the dark
- Normal people by Sally Rooney
- H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
- Outline, Transit and Kudos by Rachel Cusk
On the medical theme:
- All of Atul Gawande books: Being Mortal , Complications , Better
- When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi
- Human Errors by Nathan Lents
And on a lighter note, the very funny ones:
- The Franglais lieutenant’s woman and Le Bumper book of Franglais by Miles Kington
- The Ladybird “How it Works” Books : The Mum , The Dad , The Midlife Crisis (these are much better in print because they are picture-based)
And my absolute bible to understand the English culture:
Watching the English by Kate Fox
I hope you will find pleasure in reading some of these books – and if you have recommendations for me do send them through!!