I completely missed Poppy’s wonderful Novella November month due to University commitments, so I thought I would write a little post entitled ‘Digital December’, featuring the best Kindle books which I have read to date. Whilst I still do most of my reading from physical books, I do very much enjoy owning a Kindle, and find it invaluable, particularly for lectures and holidays.
1. Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
‘Published in 1864, Notes from Underground is considered the author’s first masterpiece – the book in which he “became” Dostoevsky – and is seen as the source of all his later works. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, whose acclaimed translations of The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment have become the standard versions in English, now give us a superb new rendering of this early classic. Presented as the fictional apology and confession of the underground man – formerly a minor official of mid-nineteenth-century Russia, whom Dostoevsky leaves nameless, as one critic wrote, “because ‘I’ is all of us” – the novel is divided into two parts: the first, a half-desperate, half-mocking political critique; the second, a powerful, at times absurdly comical account of the man’s breakaway from society and descent “underground.” The book’s extraordinary style – brilliantly violating literary conventions in ways never before attempted – shocked its first readers and still shocks many Russians today.’
2. Starter for Ten by David Nicholls
‘The debut bestseller from the author of the phenomenally successfully ONE DAY and Man Booker longlisted US. STARTER FOR TEN is a comedy about love, class, growing-up and the all-important difference between knowledge and wisdom. It’s 1985 and Brian Jackson has arrived at university with a burning ambition – to make it onto TV’s foremost general knowledge quiz. But no sooner has he embarked on ‘The Challenge’ than he finds himself falling hopelessly in love with his teammate, the beautiful and charismatic would-be actress, Alice Harbinson. When Alice fails to fall for his slightly over-eager charms, Brian comes up with a foolproof plan to capture her heart once and for all. He’s going to win the game, at any cost, because – after all – everyone knows that what a woman really wants from a man is a comprehensive grasp of general knowledge …STARTER FOR TEN is a comedy about love, class, growing-up and the all-important difference between knowledge and wisdom. Are you up to the challenge of the funniest novel in years?’
3. The Happy Foreigner by Enid Bagnold
‘Fictional account of the author’s experiences working as a volunteer driver in France during the First World War. Contrasts the duties and demands of the heroine’s external life, with the freedom and excitement of her internal life during a whirl-wind romance with a French officer.’
4. The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase by Mark Forsyth
‘In an age unhealthily obsessed with substance, this is a book on the importance of pure style, from the bestselling author of The Etymologicon and The Horologicon. From classic poetry to pop lyrics and from the King James Bible to advertising slogans, Mark Forsyth explains the secrets that make a phrase – such as ‘Tiger, Tiger, burning bright’, or ‘To be or not to be’ – memorable. In his inimitably entertaining and witty style he takes apart famous lines and shows how you too can write like Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde. Whether you’re aiming for literary immortality or just an unforgettable one-liner, The Elements of Eloquence proves that you don’t need to have anything to say – you simply need to say it well.’
5. Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman
‘Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision are the collected stories of an award-winning author who has been compared to Alice Munro, John Updike and even Chekhov Tenderly, observantly, incisively, Edith Pearlman captures life on the page like few other writers. She is a master of the short story, and this is a spectacular collection.’
6. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
‘Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram, * The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere. *pangram: a sentence or phrase that includes all the letters of the alphabet”.’
7. The Complete Works of Katherine Mansfield
Says it all. Absolutely stunning.
8. Bright Star by John Keats
‘John Keats died in penury and relative obscurity in 1821, aged only 25. He is now seen as one of the greatest English poets and a genius of the Romantic age. This collection, which contains all his most memorable works and a selection of his letters, is a feast for the senses, displaying Keats’ gift for gorgeous imagery and sensuous language, his passionate devotion to beauty, as well as some of the most moving love poetry ever written.’
9. Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
‘In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, Elisabeth Bailey shares an inspiring and intimate story of her uncommon encounter with a “Neohelix albolabris” a common woodland snail. While an illness keeps her bedridden, Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand. As a result, she discovers the solace and sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and comes to a greater under standing of her own confined place in the world. Intrigued by the snail s molluscan anatomy, cryptic defenses, clear decision making, hydraulic locomotion, and mysterious courtship activities, Bailey becomes an astute and amused observer, providing a candid and engaging look into the curious life of this underappreciated small animal. Told with wit and grace, “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” is a remarkable journey of survival and resilience, showing us how a small part of the natural world illuminates our own human existence and provides an appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.’
10. Florence and Giles by John Harding
‘In a remote and crumbling New England mansion, 12-year-old orphan Florence is neglected by her guardian uncle and banned from reading. Left to her own devices she devours books in secret and talks to herself – and narrates this, her story – in a unique language of her own invention. By night, she sleepwalks the corridors like one of the old house’s many ghosts and is troubled by a recurrent dream in which a mysterious woman appears to threaten her younger brother Giles. Sometimes Florence doesn’t sleepwalk at all, but simply pretends to so she can roam at will and search the house for clues to her own baffling past. After the sudden violent death of the children’s first governess, a second teacher, Miss Taylor, arrives, and immediately strange phenomena begin to occur. Florence becomes convinced that the new governess is a vengeful and malevolent spirit who means to do Giles harm. Against this powerful supernatural enemy, and without any adult to whom she can turn for help, Florence must use all her intelligence and ingenuity to both protect her little brother and preserve her private world. Inspired by and in the tradition of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, Florence & Giles is a gripping gothic page-turner told in a startlingly different and wonderfully captivating narrative voice.’
Are you a believer of the ebook? Do you prefer reading physical books or digital copies? Which are the best electronic books which you have read to date?