Six of the best: fiction books

Continuing my occasional “Six of the best” series, I want to turn my attention to books – specifically works of fiction. I enjoy reading and always have at least one book on the go. Mostly I would rather read than watch TV. I mostly use my Kindle, which is very convenient. It works well for reading while eating – if I am eating alone. And it is great when traveling.

I read many kinds of books, but do enjoy contemporary fiction. So I have chosen what are probably my favorite six fiction books that I have read in the last few years …

The Universe versus Alex Woods – by Gavin Extence

I read this book quite recently, so it is fresh in my mind. However, I think that it is strong enough that it will stay there for a while. The story has some unlikely precepts, but ends up [for me] quite believable. Although serious subjects are addressed – assisted suicide, for example – the book is very readable and even humorous. I was entertained, amused, moved and educated – what more can one ask from a book?

Elizabeth is Missing – by Emma Healey

Another book that looks at serious matters – this time, dementia – but still makes the reader smile from time to time. The story is written from the viewpoint of the dementia sufferer; her confusion was conveyed with the rather chaotic text – interleaving the two timelines – but I never got lost. I felt that it gave me some insight into how it must feel to suffer this terrible condition.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – by Stieg Larsson

I read this book – and the subsequent two books in the trilogy – a while ago, but it has stuck with me. It is quite a long book, with a complex story and lots of foreign names, but I never felt lost or confused. It was probably the first book that raised awareness of the “Nordic Noir” genre, which is now quite popular. After reading the book I watched the movie [which was in Swedish with subtitles] – it really captured the feel for the book superbly. With some trepidation, I also went to see the subsequent Hollywood-made movie, but that, too, was very well done. It is a mystery to me why there were never English language movies of the other two books.

Cloud Atlas – by David Mitchell

The author of this book is a local hero – he lived in my home town for some years when he was at school. So, apart from it being a well known book, it was a must-read for me. It is a big book, which is really a number of smaller books/stories, each inside another, which take place all through history. This works really well and I did not find it confusing. This is another book where I later saw the movie, which I might suggest is better than the book, as the timelines are rearranged in a simpler way.

What Alice Forgot – by Liane Moriarty

I was introduced to this author, who is Australian incidentally, a couple of years ago. I have seen some reviews of her work that dismiss it as “chicklit”, which I feel is unfair. Her stories always seem to start out with a very intriguing premise and then build on to that. I enjoy the complexity of the subsequent stories. In the case of this book, the story is about someone who has lost all memory of the last 10- years of her life and gradually rebuilds that recall.

So Much for That – by Lionel Shriver

Some time ago, I read We Need to Talk About Kevin, which was a good read, but I felt it was rather grim. So, I dismissed the author for a while, but I read more reviews of her work and decided to give her another try. She has now become possibly my favorite author. This book is a fine example of her work. The key thread is a look at the brutal healthcare system in the US, where, if someone is unlucky enough to get seriously ill, they can be ruined financially. The story is complex, with various twists and surprises and even manages to be humorous in a black kind of way.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at https://blogs.sw.siemens.com/embedded-software/2016/11/03/six-of-the-best-fiction-books/