My recommendations: If you liked… (Part 2)

One of my favourite things about book blogging is getting new book recommendations, so I’ve pulled together some of my top recommendations based on other popular books out there. These are all books that I’d recommend based on my own experiences and similarities in theme, writing style or general feel. This is part two, which looks more at general fiction.

Part one, published a few weeks back, looks at fantasy and dystopian, and I’ll also be doing a part three shortly which looks at crime and thrillers.

  1. If you liked The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, try How to Stop Time

Both of these books play with the idea of time. Both feature characters that mean they’ve lived longer lives that most, and these books both focus on how life and loss affects us as individuals. They also both have great main characters, unscrupulous villains and just the right amount of drama.

  1. If you liked A Place Called Winter, try The Museum of Extraordinary Things

I loved A Place Called Winter for its unique setting and historical perspective on topics that are still very relevant today. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is similar in themes. I loved the setting of turn of the century New York, the contrast of the old and new and the family dynamics.

  1. If you liked Americanah, try We Need New Names

Both of these books tackle some really interesting questions around identity and culture. They also offer an insightful view into experiences of immigration and feelings of displacement.

  1. If you liked The House of the Spirits, try The Son

I love anything that’s described as a sweeping family epic. I also really enjoy reading about different cultures and settings from my own native UK. The House of the Spirits is a classic, spanning multiple generations and set in Brazil. The Son uses a similar concept, but starts in the frontier lands of the American west in the mid-1800’s and takes us all the way through to modern times.

  1. If you liked Life After Life, try The Light Between Oceans

Life After Life has a really unique format, taking us through many versions of the same life and exploring how one small action can cause a butterfly effect, putting us right in the head of the central character as she navigates the world. The Light Between Oceans is very different in subject matter – although it is still historical fiction – but is also very character driven and raises interesting questions around morality and right and wrong.

What do you think about this list? Do you have any books that you’d recommend to me that are similar to any of the above? 

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How to Stop Time – Matt Haig

How to Stop TimeThe story: Tom Hazard, currently working as a teacher living in London, has spent his life hiding a secret – he was actually born in 1581. Tom has a condition that means that he ages so slowly that he has lived through many lifetimes. Now under the protection of others like him through the Albatross society, Tom is given all he needs to reinvent his identity every eight years. The only rule is never to fall in love.

But although Tom tries to stick to the rules, being back in the city where he was born brings back long forgotten memories and desires. He’s also been searching for something for a long time which seems to finally be within his reach.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book and the way it was written, and once I’d started I couldn’t put it down. I loved how Tom’s past was overlaid with the present throughout this book – over the centuries he’s been on a stage with Shakespeare, sailed with great explorers and drank in a bar in Paris with the Fitzgerald’s – and when he’s teaching his students history, he’s drawing on all his own personal experiences to really bring the past to life.

At first glance, he appears to have it all – he’s travelled the world, set up with everything he needs and has enjoyed all that the world has to offer.

But there are of course the inevitable problems. He’s watched loved ones die and been unable to stop it, he’s unable to for any meaningful attachments for fear of questions, and the mundane details of daily life become increasingly insignificant.

Threaded throughout the whole novel are little insights that make us think about what it means to be human.  It raises some really interesting questions – what is life without love and the people that surround us? Are existing and living the same thing?

The villain of the piece, Hendrich, the leader of the Albatross Society, is suitably dastardly and threatening, which keeps the pace moving along well and adds some additional drama to a story that otherwise may have run the risk of becoming a little bogged down in reflection and memories.

The subject matter and style really reminded me of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which I also loved. I’m not surprised to hear that there’s a film of this in the making, with Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role. The skill of Haig’s writing means that in my head I can already imagine exactly how it will play out on screen, and I can’t wait to watch it.