I’m going to list a few books that are short and sweet, and certainly eligible for the fabled position on your coffee table. And even if you don’t read them you’ll be glad to have them there as a talking point for when visitors come around; just avoid the ones who have read it and want to discuss it!
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
This story of the American dream gone horribly wrong is a common theme in American literature, and one that Fitzgerald told with great skill and poignancy. The Great Gatsby tells the story of how Nick Carraway finds himself in one of the most discovers the mysterious Jay Gatsby living in a mansion, throwing extravagant parties every Saturday night. The story progresses as Gatsby realises that Nick Carraway is cousins with the great love of his life. Sadly though Gatsby’s love interest is married and unable to reciprocate his love, and all his impressive parties still cannot win over the fact that Nick’s cousin, Daisy is devoted to her own cheating husband. I won’t tell you much more about the plot, simply because it’s such a great story to read and it’s not long either. Indeed, if you sit for long enough in the lounge, this coffee table read could be done in one sitting.
Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
Now we jump ahead quite a long way into the 21st century for an author of some repute. Sarah Waters has been writing fiction books for a long time and has several successful novels under her belt. However, Fingersmith perhaps remains as one of her finest works. This book is a great introduction to the great writer and the way she can keep her readers on the edge of their seats right until the last few pages, and even then surprise the hell out of them. With Sarah Waters you never can second guess what she’s going to do next; even if you’ve read all her work you still can’t work it out.
This is because Waters always manages to evoke a certain reality in her period fiction that no other writer of pastiche fiction books has shown themselves capable of doing in a long time. I think that this is primarily due to Waters’ education and vast historical knowledge and interest; as I wrote in an earlier post, having an interest in what you write is essential if you ever want to sell your books in a bookstore!
I absolutely refuse to tell you anything about Fingersmith because I might inadvertently give something away that you’re likely to enjoy immensely on your first read. However, I will tell you that it’s a great Victorian pastiche novel with more cleverly drawn characters and grotesques than a work by Dickens.
More to come soon
I’ll give you few more pointers on great coffee table reads in the coming weeks and months, but until then, go out and get these books; I know for a fact that you won’t regret it for a moment.