Read This Next by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark
1 July, 2011
Like many of you, I love looking through lists of book recommendations, be it seasonal, of authors and bloggers and especially friends. But since starting blogging, I’ve got enough recs as it is and my amazon wishlist is a mile long. I missed all the buzz on the 1000 books you need to read before you snuff it, but thought Read This Next by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark might offer something a little different. And I am SO glad I read this because it’s probably one of the funniest and erudite lists I’ve been lucky enough to come across. And the books they recommend are sufficiently different and new to me.
Grouped in themes such as war, love, work, religion, etc., they pick a number of books they concentrate on with questions you may (or may not) want to discuss in book groups (god I wish I could be a fly on the wall if they do!) plus extra lists such as sff, mysteries, misery memoirs, etc., basically covering the whole spectrum. If you’ve got a delicate sensibility, some of the humour may rub you the wrong way. But hey, I say give it a go anyway, it’ll make you grow a thicker skin and open your eyes a bit.
It’s not a book you want to read straight through. You want to dip into it daily or when you need a laugh. I loved the way Newman and Mittelmark kept adding new thematic lists to their current themes so they also bring in books by actual Africans, Russian Lit, China, the apocalypse, the drugged out, transgressive love, etc. And any list that has China Miéville in it gets my vote! Plus it also includes Neville Shute’s On The Beach – a brilliant yet oft-forgotten classic. There is a mixture of books from the canon (yeah, I’m a sucker for classical texts that everyone feels you must read but are often boring/irrelevant/past it/makes you unsure of why you are actually reading it) as well as more contemporary stuff.
What I really liked about the selection is that you get the feel of the authors’ tastes here. There are lots of lists out there but Read This Next stands out because of its unique approach. And it’s hilarious. I don’t think I’ve laughed out loud this much for ages. OK, enough gushing. I command you to go and get this book. It’s brilliant.
Many thanks to the lovely people at Penguin who kindly sent me this book to review.