Welcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers, writers and readers to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles, new authors and new bloggers.
Today's guest is Susan Osborne, who blogs at A Life in Books.
Most of Susan's working life has been spent in the book world, first as a bookseller then as a freelance writer and reviews editor for two magazines.
"I’d like to say I read widely, but if I’m honest I’m firmly in the literary fiction pigeonhole these days," she says. "I should also spend time re-reading, as I have many excellent books on my shelves, but every time a publisher’s catalogue turns up I find myself succumbing to temptation — I have a particular weakness for debuts."
Susan's favourite authors range from Siri Hustvedt, Helen Dunmore and Kate Atkinson to Haruki Murakami, Kent Haruf and Colm Tóibin.
Without further ado, here are Susan's Triple Choice Tuesday selections:
No one who knows me will be a bit surprised by this choice. I’ve sung its praises endlessly and given it to many friends and family. It’s a bit of a disappointment if I find a friend doesn’t like it. What I Loved is about art, love, parenthood, marriage: about life, and the way we live it. It’s beautifully written with a cool elegance about it. Hustvedt’s descriptions of Bill Wechsler’s boxes depicting painting or sculpture behind closed doors are so vivid you can picture them. As relationships begin to unravel, it almost becomes a page turner, but a very sophisticated one. It’s my Desert Island book.
I’m a huge fan of Helen Dunmore’s work but this one has a personal resonance, because the reading group guide I wrote for it marked the start of my freelance career, leading to more guides and a book for reading groups commissioned by Bloomsbury. It’s a richly complex novel written in language as sensuous and languid as the heat which seems to permeate every page. On one level it has the pace of a thriller with clues scattered throughout the plot. On another, it’s packed with insight into the complications of family life and the secrets that may lie hidden for years but which have the potential to wreck lives.
Sadly, Astrid and Veronika is now out of print in the UK, although there are plenty of second-hand copies floating round the internet should I persuade British readers to read it. It’s one of those slim novels written in the pared back prose that I so admire. It’s about the friendship between Veronika, a young New Zealand writer fleeing a tragedy, who holes up in a remote Swedish village wanting only to be left alone to work, and the reclusive Astrid, elderly and shunned by the rest of the village, who falls ill. These two disparate women have more in common than they first thought. It’s written in gorgeous prose and was published in the UK with the sort of jacket that makes you want to pick it up immediately.
Thank you, Susan, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday. My wishlist has just grown that little bit longer, although I've had What I Loved in my pile for about ten years — this may be the final push I need to read it.
What do you think of Susan's choices? Have you read any of these books?