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2006: Reading Material

Three Favourite Books of 2006

1.  Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson.

2.  Case Histories, Kate Atkinson.

3.  Human Croquet, Kate Atkinson.

‘MON THE KATE!

If I was Scottish I might say that in 2006 I went pure dead MENTAL for the works of Kate Atkinson. Born in York, the author now resides in Edinburgh but I shan’t be stalking her; I prefer to admire a la distance.

My mother-in-law loaned me Case Histories in January. I had never heard of Kate Atkinson as I am an ignorant clod. In fact when I saw the 3 for 2 Waterstones sticker on the cover I thought it might just be one of those Martyred Woman Sagas so often tucked into the Christmas stockings of mothers-in-law. But nay, not so! I am rubbish at writing about books so I will cut and paste wot the Guardian said:

“Astonishingly complex and moving literary detective story that made me sob but also snort with laughter. It’s the sort of novel you have to start rereading the minute you’ve finished it.”

I didn’t start rereading the minute I finished it, but instead tried to bully everyone I knew to read it immediately. Share my joy, you bastards! The Mothership took up the challenge during her visit and loved it, and Gareth finally submitted last month and was also hooked. He stayed up late reading, which I’d never seen him do with anything else aside from the Viz annual. And he guffawed in all the right places too, which is incredibly satisfying when you’ve forced a book upon someone.

The minute I finished reading, I’d also rushed out and bought all Ms Atkinson’s other books like a trembling fangirl. But I was so worried they wouldn’t be as good that I didn’t pick up Behind The Scenes until November. Ohh lordy. Insert superlatives here. About 75% through I started re-reading chapters so I wouldn’t get to the end too soon. I felt bereft when it was finally over and had to leave those characters behind. I hadn’t felt such an overwhelming urge to cuddle a book and stroke it protectively since Cloudstreet. It instantly zoomed into my All Time Favourites list.

I reluctantly started on Human Croquet a day later, not wanting the bubble to burst. But it was just as absorbing and eloquent; the kind of writing that makes you seethe with jealousy and miss your train stop.

(Speaking of jealousy, Ed got to interview Ms Atkinson recently! And most superbly too.)

I’m finding her third novel Emotionally Weird a little harder to get into, in fact it’s abandoned for now as Gareth got me her newie, One Good Turn, for my Christmas. Woohoo! I did read other books by other writers this year but I can’t remember any of them right now. I’m still shitfaced from my Kate Atkinson bender.

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About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m an author, copywriter and old school blogger. I love telling stories about life and helping my clients to tell theirs. Find out more about me and how we can work together.


15 thoughts on “2006: Reading Material

  1. Great post — but then I’m a bookaholic so I love reading about people’s bookish loves. I read Atkinson’s Behind The Scenes at the Museum a few years back and didn’t like it very much, hence I’ve not read any of her other tomes. But I’ve heard such good things about Case Histories I might well have to give her another go.

    If you’re interested, my top 10 reads for 2006 are here.

  2. Have you read Not the End of the World? (Also Kate Atkinson.) It’s a short story collection, and wonderful. I read it last summer, and it quickly became one of my favorite books.

  3. kim! i will most definitely check out your list. i love a good list this time of year.

    and bushra, i agree! but i’d read it again just for binky. gareth and i kept going round talking like her all the time, “who is thet men” and “bleck ket”, etc etc…

    julia – oooh glad to hear you liked it, i borrowed it from the library only yesterday and added it to the pile…

  4. Oh, no no no, “Emotionally Weird” is the best! The others are great too, but “EW”… words fail me. Maybe it’s an English graduate thing… but really, once I read it I thought (for a while) that really there wasn’t any point in anyone writing any other novels because she just points out all the writing tricks and laughs at them. Persist!

    Woo, as you say, hoo.

  5. I love Kate Atkinson! We studied Behind The Scenes at the Museum in school, and since everyone hated the teacher everyone hated the literature she chose by default; I was the only one in the class who liked the book! I’m surprised I didn’t get stoned o_0

  6. I love “Emotionally Weird” with quite a passion too.

    (I warn you, though, that should you ever have to go to Dundee University after you’ve read it, you might find the whole experience a little surreal.)

  7. It is always a heart warming moment, when somone you think highly of , in this instance that would be you you Shauna, comes up trumps by telling you all about an author that you’ve been a huge fan of for DONKEY’S YEARS. I read Behind the scenes (my ruby my pearl) ages ago and was bowled over by it. Since read Human Croquet and Emotionaly Weird. EW is a departure but I really liked it. But then I studied up in Heuchter Teuchter land myself ((Aber-dabber-deen) so kinda “got” the book.

    Kate is criminally under rated,read and exposed. She is a brilliant writer.

    Bugger, now I have to go to amazon and buy the whole lot…again!

    Cheers Sh!

    Pol x

  8. Hi

    I really have to disagree about Case Histories.. I read it while on holidays in Sept and I really hated it!! Well hate might be too strong an emotion to how i felt about it, i was just totally indifferent.

    Maybe it was because of all the amazing reviews on the cover…my expectations were high but it just didn’t deliver for me.

    Anyway I really enjoy the blog!

    BTW I have just finished:
    Stuart: a Life Backwards, by Alexander Masters
    I would really recommend it…pretty harrowing but brilliant.

    Perhaps I will have to give Kate Atkinson another chance in 2007!

  9. Long time lurker, have to comment.
    LOVE LOVE LOVE kate Atkinson. Especially Emotionally Weird and Not the end of the world. Have been spreading the word here in Flyoverland Minnesota.

  10. Thanks for recommending Kate Atkinson. I ordered Case Histories from Amazon after reading your blog entry, and I think I just discovered another writer all of whose books I have to read. Halfway into the second chapter I thought “Oh my God, I can’t keep reading this, it’s just too sad”, but now that I’m about halfway through I’m hooked. I can’t even pinpoint why exactly, but I can’t wait to get home tonight so I can continue…And I guess I’ll have to order the next one soon, I think probably Behind the Scenes at the Museum.

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