This month on the reading group we’re going to have fun. The holiday season is drawing to a close, schools and colleges are starting again and the world is on fire. I’m not suggesting we hide from reality, but it might be useful to have something to offset the pain for a while. Think of it as a literary restorative.
The form that tonic takes is entirely up to you. My first resources when it comes to fun books are always PG Wodehouse and Terry Pratchett and I’d be delighted to read either of them again. But we don’t have to choose something so explicitly humorous. There is plenty to be said for the warm glow that comes from reading a more quietly witty book such as Fup by Jim Dodge. Equally, we could go for something more noisily exuberant, such as Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus, or something plain and beautiful, such as EL Carr’s A Month in the Country.
Or we could lean the other way, into the caustic wit of an Elizabeth Taylor or the ghostly chill of a Shirley Jackson. Maybe your idea of fun is experiencing a gigantic Iain M Banks space opera or immersing yourself in the imagination of Ursula K Le Guin. Maybe it’s getting to the beating heart of a Zadie Smith or Michael Ondaatje novel. Perhaps it’s just the thrill of reading something as linguistically impressive as Virginia Woolf. This could even be an opportunity to revisit Dickens. (There are few greater pleasures in literature than the arrival on the scene of Betsey Trotwood, after all.)
Or at least, that’s my opinion. But now it’s up to you. Any book that you regard as fun is fair game and nominating is easy. Just add the title in the comments below – if you can also provide reasons, so much the better. I’ll put all the contenders in a hat towards the end of the week and announce the winner shortly afterwards. Let’s enjoy ourselves.