Lily Cole is perhaps known more for her work on screen than in literature. A model, an actress and a filmmaker, Lily Cole has explored a wide range of her talents throughout the media industry and continues to expand to this day. Her book “Who Cares Wins” is all about our own problems today but, different to other books of its kind it does not depict it as an apocalyptic nightmare to bring down the reader into a deep hole of eco-depression. Instead, Lily Cole’s book seeks to show us that there are interesting and vast ways to solve these problems if we care enough and if we concentrate on what really matters. Her skills at showing us massive problems with our own world and then telling us that we have the solution to them at our fingertips if we work together is something that I find incredibly interesting about this text. The optimism and the clarity in writing style really make you want to stick through the book and read what she has to say. Why? Well, it is the only real book you’ll find about the environment that does not lead to the end of the world.
Initially, I was a bit apprehensive about reading this book, and I’ll tell you exactly why.
“Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart is a book about the kind of life we rarely read about in literature. It’s about the lives of those trying desperately to make ends meet in the bustling life of inner-city Glasgow. Set between the years of the early 1980s and the early 1990s, this book gives us a reason to read it. It doesn’t invite us to experience the life that Shuggie is living, but instead allows us to immerse ourselves in it, feeling what he is feeling and going where he is going. We are given an apt look at his life, starting with the man we meet working at the supermarket and then, moving back over to his childhood and more importantly, his relationship with his mother. This book is a hand in teaching us that we don’t know the lives of others upon first glance. They could be anyone, serving you in the supermarket, making your coffee at the cafe or even serving you at the checkout - we have no right to judge others without truly walking in their shoes and feeling what they are feeling. This book is a brilliantly polished example of that in practice.
I first read this book when I was fifteen years’ old and in school. I couldn’t really tell anyone that I was a Philippa Gregory fan because of two things: the first thing is that I didn’t really go to school with other children that liked to read - they were more into hair, nails etc. and the second reason is that I wasn’t very popular anyway so I wouldn’t have had anyone to tell anyway. “The Wise Woman” wasn’t the first Philippa Gregory book I read but it was definitely one of my favourites because there was a big theme of vengeance and I love it when characters take revenge on people who were not very nice to them.
This thriller novel may be original, yes, but there are many improvements if we want to move to the ‘groundbreaking’ realm. There are a number of improvements this novel can make, but in my opinion I have to say that the book itself is mostly well written. It does the job of making a novel entertaining to read - but when we come to deeper thought things can get a bit sticky. For example: the first few chapters of the novel up to the first encounter with the young “Danny and Ander” are incredible in terms of deep philosophy to do with estuaries and memories, everything from existential crises of great solitude to wanting to be right there, jumping to your death. When it comes to the first encounter of Danny and Ander however, I feel like the book actually falls a bit flat. As if the author is no longer using those mediums of lengthy description and internalised metaphors. These great wordings and speeches of introspection that were felt before seem to vanish. I understand that Ander is supposed to be younger and therefore, not really into thinking about such things, but seriously - it is like the writing style changes entirely. From the chapters on Gary and the investigation to the chapters on Danny and Ander - I think there is a stark difference in writing which makes the reader more and more distant from Danny and Ander and makes us less likely to care until the unthinkable actually happens.
I first read this book when I was about fifteen years’ old and it was because I had seen it in the local library but it was a tattered copy and so, I bought my own - intact. From not even opening the book, I felt like this was an important text. I wrote the following about it in my diary even before actually reading the book: “there’s something strange about this book. It’s as if it is asking me not to read it but it’s pulling me in. Something about the phrase ‘in cold blood’ sounds unnerving and dangerous. I’ve heard a bit about it but I was never sure to rely on other people’s verdicts of novels. Apparently though, according to some people - this isn’t really a novel at all. Then what is it?” That was the question I had asked: “What is it?” It isn’t really a novel because it isn’t really fiction and, as I know after many re-reads over the years, it isn’t entirely accurate either and so, it isn’t a non-fiction novel. It is an embellishment of the truth for the sake of entertainment and so, it is half and half, something that humans have been doing for centuries. Yet, it is entirely new. It is the new, modern version of criminal justice novels. It was true-crime and this is where I had first encountered a book of which the entire genre would come to change everything about what I believed literature could be. I would be obsessing over true crime for near a decade afterwards and it would be because of “In Cold Blood”. The first question you always ask yourself when you read “In Cold Blood” for the first time and that was the same question I asked myself when I finished the book. I wrote in my diary: “This was a strange book, I’ve never really read anything like it. The moment I finished it, I just sat there thinking about the same question over and over again - ‘what happens if it’s all entirely true?’”