It was Billy who announced to us a few months ago that he was reading the best book he'd ever read in his life. Had we heard of it? Out of all our friends, he'd be one of the keenest readers so I was interested and ultimately delighted to discover that the book he was talking about was East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It so happened that Bert had, on my recommendation, read it himself only a short time before. The first time I read it (in a Reader's Digest condensed edition with pictures) I was only a child and the most of it went over my head. I only remembered Lee, the twins, Abra and Adam's soggy lettuce debacle. I read it again in my late teens and again about a year ago. That's when I put it on Bert's To Read pile.
It rarely happens now, discovering a writer whose books are so enjoyable that you cannot wait to start the next one. So, when Billy came in one day and said he'd been reading a great book, one he could not put down I was all ears. He couldn't bring the name of the author to mind but the book was set in the future, about a planet, colonised by humans and where everyone could read each other's minds. Science Fiction? I used to like SF when I was really young but not so keen on it nowadays. I read a lot of book reviews so was able to figure out that the author was Patrick Ness. I agreed to give it a go.
It wasn't long before Billy brought it around and it sat on the shelf for a few weeks. Eventually, I picked it up and dipped into it. A planet, colonised by humans who can hear each other's thoughts and there are no women! I was unimpressed. Well, maybe being able to communicate with your dog is cool but, apart from that... but I read on and soon I'm gripped.
I realised two things. One, I've read a Patrick Ness book before. More Than This which, interestingly, begins with the main character's death. Science Fiction again but I remember liking it. The second thing I realised that my current book The Knife Of Never Letting Go is the first of a trilogy. As soon as I finished it I ordered the second one and as soon as that was finished I ordered the final one. Bert and Billy are reading them too although Bert got a bit cross with Ness because of something that happened in the first book. He says he mightn't read the third one. I think he's anxious about the horse.
As Billy, Bert and I are in our forties, fifties and sixties some might say that we are a tad mature for fiction written for young adults but a good read is a good read no matter what age group it is aimed at.
I found another Ness book in the library this week The Rest Of Us Just Live Here and am halfway through it. I thought, a book about teenagers in America and featuring vampires! Of all things. I haven't read anything about vampires since Anne Rice (hated her books) and thought I was done with them but if it's Patrick Ness it'll be worth a shot and so it is.
Back to Steinbeck. A good few of my collection was sourced in the very early seventies and many of the covers were illustrated by this uncredited artist. I thought they were very modern at the time. This one is going on my To Read pile as I've completely forgotten what it's about.
Then I opened it and saw this,
That book was a present from my two years younger sister. Almost a half-century ago.