Parallel Worlds

I have been gobbling up some interesting literature recently, and as you’ll know if you’ve read Through the Dark Woods, I am a believer in the mental health benefits of fiction.  If you are feeling low and need an escape, I recommend “The Help” byKathryn Stockett.  I have been reading it at all sorts of inappropriate moments because although technically I could have put it down, I didn’t want to.  Last night I even read on through past my bedtime with reckless disregard for the next day’s weariness: that’s how good it is!  It is the story of Skeeter (she looked like a mosquito when she was born), a white woman living in Mississippi in the 1960s who writes a controversial book about the experiences of black maids.  It is about facing down injustice, about love across great divides, about the cost of non-conformity.  There is caramel cake in it, and a pivotal chocolate cream pie.  It made me feel angry, and hopeful, and fizzy with thoughts and ideas of my own.

A book that I might have recommended to you if you’d asked me around page 400 (it is 933 pages long) is Shantaram.  Having slogged my way through the whole thing, my enthusiasm has shrivelled.  It is a portion of the life story of a man who escaped an Australian high security jail, where he was serving a sentence for armed robbery, and fled to India.  It promised me redemption and it failed to deliver.  I was left feeling immensely frustrated with the author for his stunningly impervious ego, which allowed him to look in the mirror and feel great pleasure and pride at the sight of the violent, unpleasant criminal looking back.  So don’t read that one.  But if you want a good laugh, go and read the one star reviews on Amazon, which are hilarious.

The question is: what should I read next?