Beatlebone

Beatlebone

Kevin Barry

First Sentence:     He set out for the place as an animal might, as though on some fated migration.

Back of the book:

He will spend three days alone on his island. That is all that he asks . . . John is so many miles from love now and home. This is the story of his strangest trip.

John owns a tiny island off the west coast of Ireland. Maybe it is there that he can at last outrun the shadows of his past.

The tale of a wild journey into the world and a wild journey within, Beatlebone is a mystery box of a novel. It’s a portrait of an artist at a time of creative strife. It is most of all a sad and beautiful comedy from one of the most gifted stylists now at work.

Quotes from the book:

Baby spew the sour milk smell the bloody motherhood.

‘Did you know that the groans get passed down to us?’

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The Book Of Strange New Things

The Book of Strange New Things

Michel Faber

First Sentence:     “I was going to say something,” he said.

Back of the book:

‘I am with you always, even unto the end of the world…’ Peter Leigh is a missionary called to go on the journey of a lifetime. Leaving behind his beloved wife, Bea, he boards a flight for a remote and unfamiliar land, a place where the locals are hungry for the teachings of the Bible – his ‘book of strange new things’. It is a quest that will challenge Peter’s beliefs, his understanding of the limits of the human body and, most of all, his love for Bea. The Book of Strange New Things is a wildly original tale of adventure, faith and the ties that might hold two people together when they are worlds apart. This momentous novel, Faber’s first since The Crimson Petal and the White, sees him at his expectation-defying best.

Quote from the book:

He remembered how, when he was a kid, he would play with the girl at the end of the street and she’d spray him with the garden hose and he’d jump to avoid it  but get caught anyway, which was the whole point and pleasure of it, Knowing that it would get you, but that you wouldn’t come to harm and you’d love it really.

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The First Bad Man

TFBM-COVER-667x1024Miranda July

First Sentence:     I drove to the doctor’s office as if I was starring in a movie Phillip was watching—windows down, hair blowing, just one hand on the wheel.

Back of the book:

Here is Cheryl, a tightly-wound, vulnerable woman who lives alone, with a perpetual lump in her throat. She is haunted by a baby boy she met when she was six, who sometimes recurs as other people’s babies. Cheryl is also obsessed with Phillip, a philandering board member at the women’s self-defense nonprofit where she works. She believes they’ve been making love for many lifetimes, though they have yet to consummate in this one.

When Cheryl’s bosses ask if their twenty-one-year-old daughter, Clee, can move into her house for a little while, Cheryl’s eccentrically ordered world explodes. And yet it is Clee—the selfish, cruel blond bombshell—who bullies Cheryl into reality and, unexpectedly, provides her the love of a lifetime.

Quotes from the book:

Then I realized that we all think we might be terrible people. But we only reveal this before we ask someone to love us. It is a kind of undressing.

“I could see it so clearly, the zygote—shiny and bulbous, filled with the electric memory of being two but now damned with the eternal loneliness of being just one.”

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The Crimson Petal And The White

Michel-Faber-Crimson-Petal-and-the-White1Michel Faber

First Sentence:    Watch your step.

Back of the book:

‘Watch your step. Keep your wits about you; you will need them . . .’

So begins this irresistible voyage into the dark side of Victorian London. Amongst an unforgettable cast of low-lifes, physicians, businessmen and prostitutes, meet our heroine Sugar, a young woman trying to drag herself up from the gutter any way she can. Be prepared for a mesmerising tale of passion, intrigue, ambition and revenge.

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The Humans

The Humans

Matt Haig

First Sentence:     I know that some of you reading this are convinced humans are a myth, but I am here to state that they do actually exist.

Back of the book:

One wet Friday evening, Professor Andrew Martin of Cambridge University solves the world’s greatest mathematical riddle. Then he disappears.

When he is found walking naked along the motorway, Professor Martin seems different. Besides the lack of clothes, he now finds normal life pointless. His loving wife and teenage son seem repulsive to him. In fact, he hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton. And he’s a dog.

Can a bit of Debussy and Emily Dickinson keep him from murder? Can the species which invented cheap white wine and peanut butter sandwiches be all that bad? And what is the warm feeling he gets when he looks into his wife’s eyes?

Quotes from the book:

I breathed her in. I liked the warmth of her body against mine and realised the pathos of being a human. Of being a mortal creature who was essentially alone but needed the myth of togetherness with others. Friends, children, lovers. It was an attractive myth. It was a myth you could easily inhabit.

‘Kissing is what humans do when words have reached a place they can’t escape from. It is a switch to another language.’

[…] humans, in the day that has been the earth, have only been here for a minute and seventeen seconds. We’re a late night piss in the toilet, that’s all we are.

‘[…] someone who had lived enough to know that loving and being loved back was a hard thing to get right, but when you managed it you could see forever. Two mirrors, opposite and facing each other at perfectly parallel angles, viewing themselves through the other, the view as deep as infinity.’

Humans were always doing things they didn’t like doing. In fact, to my best estimate, at any one time only point three per cent of humans were actively doing something they liked doing, and even when they did so, they felt an intense amount of guilt about it and were fervently promising themselves they’d be back doing something horrendously unpleasant very shortly.

‘The gentle but unbettered comfort of coexistence.’

New technology, on Earth, just means something you will laugh at in five years. Value the stuff you won’t laugh at in five years. Like love. Or a good poem. Or a song. Or the sky.

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