arts culture

5 books to read in front of a cosy fireplace

Novels and essays on today's world to either read or gift to a friend in view of a future discussion

Home life lifestyle arts culture 5 books to read in front of a cosy fireplace

A cosy armchair and an absorbing book are an exquisite pleasure on a rainy day. These are five titles, some new and others available on bookshelves for some time, which will keep us company in front of a warm fireplace. The stories of five international authors that make us reflect or which merely involve us, broadening our horizons.

We are the weather: saving the planet begins at breakfast

by Jonathan Safran Foer

He is the author of Everything is illuminated, and of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, two novels which have inspired two successful movies. In this book, he adopts a light-hearted style to convince all his readers of the dramatic environmental catastrophe, which awaits us. He does so, knowing that he will not be entirely believed, somewhat like the Polish partisan Jan Karski who left for Great Britain and the USA to inform world leaders of the atrocities that the Germans were committing in Poland. A pleasant story in short chapters that tries to arouse emotions, as the author is aware that he will succeed in convincing his readers to take action only by triggering a deep passion, like the one we have for our football team.

Just like you

by Nick Hornby

"Hornby uses a fresh and sparkling style to outline male and female manias with amused accuracy" - this is how the British newspaper The Guardian presents the book, which sums up the author's writing style. His books have often ranked high in the charts of the funniest ones. Hornby relates the story of a literature teacher aged just over forty, a divorcee with two children, who does nothing to create a new love life. She stumbles upon a young black boy who works at the butcher's shop, and supplements his salary with babysitting and football coaching. A love story told against the backdrop of Brexit. It infers that you do not necessarily have to be alike to travel a stretch of life's journey together.

Marathon Man

by William Goldman

William Goldman was a writer and screenwriter. In the latter capacity, he also won two Academy Awards for Butch Cassidy (1970) and for All the President's Men (1977). Based on the book Marathon Man, he wrote a screenplay for John Schlesinger's namesake movie, starring Dustin Hoffman. Here we shall discuss the book that grips you from the very first line. It is the story of T.B. Levy, called Babe, who dreams of running the marathon like his idol Abebe Bikila. However, after the death of his brother, who was not quite the person he had imagined, he finds himself involved in a story of Nazi criminals, diamonds and torture. An unsettling scenario for a good guy like Babe, who is passionate about history and loves a woman who, like his brother, is not what she seems to be.

Shelter in Place

by David Leavitt

In the aftermath of Donald Trump's election as President of the United States, the experiences of a group of upper middle class intellectuals in New York invite us to think about the fear of change. The story centres on Eva Lindquist who, disappointed by her country, takes refuge in a golden tower in Venice, in a house purchased by her wealthy husband. The author considers Venice an otherworldly place where the leading character tries to figure out how to live her life in a time of deep political crisis. However, this generates no reaction as everything finally leads to the simple fear of losing personal privileges.

The Cockroach

by Ian McEwan

The title and incipit are a tribute to Frank Kafka and his 'The Metamorphosis' because the protagonist of the book is a cockroach that, at a certain point, finds itself appointed as the British Prime Minister: Jim Sams goes from being one of the most hated and despised insects in the world to being the most powerful and respected man in the UK. His mission is to comply with the people's will and to lead the country to ruin. The novel is an excellent example of the British satirical tradition, and aims to highlight the contradictions of populism.