The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

The Reading List is a love letter to books, exploring how they connect, guide, teach and inspire us. It’s also a celebration of libraries, reminding us how valuable these spaces are for the community.

The novel begins with a reading list: an apparently carefully crafted list of books written in beautiful handwriting found by chance. The list finds its way into the hands of different characters throughout the novel and we follow them as they make their way through it, knowingly and sometimes unknowingly, connecting to each other through the books.

Whilst the reading list is discovered by a few people throughout the novel, the main focus is on two characters: Aleisha, a 17 year old who’s just taken on a summer job at the local library, despite not really reading books, and Mukesh, an elderly widower who comes to the library to connect with his late wife who was an avid reader. I warmed to these two characters, and much preferred the chapters which focussed on them.

When the chapters moved away from the two protagonists, I found it a little confusing jumping to different characters and years (which didn’t seem to have a relevance, unless I’m missing something). I imagined all the stories would come together – and they did – but they felt a little muddled and lacking purpose, more like an aside rather than adding much to the story

Throughout reading I thought The Reading List was a nice book. Easy-to-read, a pleasant story but nothing spectacular. About 80% of the way through, however, something happens in the story and I was hooked. I really needed to know what happened next. Perhaps I needed to have read that 80% in order to feel this way, but I couldn’t help thinking it was a shame I hadn’t felt as compelled to read on throughout the previous part of the book.

The sudden jump between a story that kind of plods along nicely and then a sudden quickening of reading pace felt a little jarring. And because it was so close to the end of the book, it made the ending feel a little rushed. However, the ending is a lovely, and satisfying, one.

Overall, The Reading List is a good read that does an excellent job of reminding us of the importance of books and libraries, and how they can connect us.


The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. Quercus, 2019.

I’ve read The Flatshare before and really enjoyed it, but I kept seeing adverts for a TV adaptation of it, so I was prompted to revisit the novel.

The Flatshare tells the story of Tiffy and Leon. Tiffy needs a cheap place to live after breaking up with her boyfriend; Leon needs extra income to help pay for a lawyer for his brother. He comes up with the idea of renting out his flat when he’s not there – working night shifts as a hospice nurse means his flat is empty during the evenings and weekends.

And so begins an unconventional flatshare: two flatmates who share a bed but never at the same time. And, at the request of Leon’s girlfriend, the two never meet. They communicate through Post-It notes left around the flat when necessary, and a friendship begins to blossom.

The Flatshare is an easy-to-read novel with an engaging storyline – the way the chapters alternate between the two main characters gives the novel a fast pace that keeps you turning the pages. The change of style between Tiffy and Leon’s chapters keeps each character distinct, and both characters are engaging and rounded. The secondary characters are great, too.

When I first heard about The Flatshare I loved the premise of the book, and I love it still – two people never meeting, but communicating through letters or notes. This isn’t a new concept, yet it’s executed in a fun and fresh way. There’s something nostalgic about them writing notes instead of using technology; it feels like a more intimate form of communication for two people who share the same bed – strictly keeping to their own sides – but never at the same time.

When I read the book the first time, I guessed how the main story would play out, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. There are other elements of the story, though, that did take me by surprise. It was these that added an extra depth to this book for me, elevating it from a standard chick-lit/romance novel. I won’t give any spoilers, but O’Leary treats a difficult subject with delicacy and insight.

There was something very comforting about rereading this book, this time around. Revisiting these characters and being a part of their story again was really enjoyable and I missed the characters once I’d finished reading.

Overall, I really enjoy The Flatshare. It’s a well-written page-turner with a heart-warming story.

It’s been a while…

Hello! It feels strange writing on here again after so long, but in the last few months I’ve really missed having a place to share my thoughts on books. I set up a Goodreads, but it just didn’t feel the same.

So, here I am. I have no idea if anyone reads blogs anymore, let alone this one, but I’m excited to start posting again!

Gemma x

Re-discovering poetry: The Best British Poetry 2014, edited by Mark Ford


Salt, 2014

The Best British Poetry 2014 is the first book in my journey of rediscovering poetry (you can read more about my reasons for doing this here). It basically boils down to the fact that I’ve felt excluded from poetry in the past and so have been left feeling as if it just isn’t for me. I don’t want to give up though, and I’m excited to start discovering it again, without the restrictions or constraints of school, and hopefully give myself more confidence in talking about poetry. Continue reading

The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride


The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride, Faber & Faber, 2016

I read Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing when it was published a couple of years ago. It was a book I struggled with throughout reading, but found it a rewarding experience by the end, becoming affected by McBride’s stream of consciousness prose that pulls and sucks you into the mind of the novel’s protagonist. I was curious to read her new book, mainly because I wondered what form it would take: would it be written in a similar style to Girl? If so, would it be different enough? Or, would the novel take a completely different experimental form altogether? Continue reading

Death and the Seaside by Alison Moore

Death and the Seaside Alison Moore

Death and the Seaside by Alison Moore, Salt, 2016

I’ve been a fan of Alison Moore’s work since I first read The Lighthouse back in 2012, admiring her sparse, taut prose that’s atmospheric and powerful. When I found out that Moore’s new book Death and the Seaside had been published, I ordered it immediately, eager to read more of her work. Continue reading

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

The Tidal Zone Sarah Moss

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss, Granta, 2016

There is so much that can be said about The Tidal Zone but I’ve been struggling to convey my experience of reading it and how to articulate just how much I love this book. What I can say is that it’s definitely one of my favourite books I’ve read this year and I’d urge you all to read it. Not only is it an absorbing novel, it’s one that truly captures and explores human fears in a powerful way. It’s an important book. Continue reading

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

The Essex Serpent Sarah Perry

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, Serpent’s Tail, 2016

Cora Seaborne begins her new life as a widow in the Essex town of Colchester where she hears rumours of the Essex Serpent claiming lives in the parish of Aldwinter. A keen naturalist, Cora is convinced that this mythical being is simply an undiscovered creature, and she moves her, her son, Francis, and her companion, Martha, to set out on its trail. Here, she’s introduced to Aldwinter’s vicar, William Ransome, and his family. An intense friendship follows and, while they agree on nothing, they find themselves drawn together. This is a rich novel full of interesting characters, an intriguing mystery, and a compelling storyline. Continue reading