Six Degrees of Separation – from We Need to Talk About Kevin to Little Known Facts


It’s time again for my favourite meme. Based on the concept of six degrees of separation, Emma Chapman and Annabel Smith have created #6DEGREES, where bloggers share links between books in six moves. Check out the rules if you want to play along.

This month, we begin with Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin. I could talk endlessly about this book – it left an indelible impression on me and although I read it when it was first published in 2006, hardly a month goes by without thinking about it. But I haven’t reread it – I’m not sure I could cope. Similarily, Sonya Hartnett’s Of a Boy is a book that will never be far from my mind – devastating, crushing and one that I’m unlikely to reread because: too stressful.

Whenever I recommend Of a Boy to people, they invariably think I’m referring to Nick Hornby’s About a Boy. Which is okay because I happen to love About a Boy.

About a Boy features an unconventional relationship between an adult and a child, as does Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. You’ve probably heard me carry on about how much I love The Book Thief – it’s a wondrous piece of writing. Which leads me to my next link, also a wondrous piece of writing and also set during WWII – Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See.


There are so many books I could link to All the Light We Cannot See (for example, to The Goldfinch for stolen museum treasures or to All That I Am for WWII stories told from the perspective of a German) but I’m choosing Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter – both stories are set in notable seaside villages. Much of Doerr’s story takes place in the historic walled city of Saint-Malo on the coast of Brittany, France (above). Beautiful Ruins takes place in a fictional Italian cliff-side village, accessible only by boat.

Although largely set in Italy, Beautiful Ruins is a story about Hollywood and its actors and actresses, as is Little Known Facts by Christine Sneed. Little Known Facts exposes the good, bad and ugly of Hollywood but done in impeccable style.

America, Australia, England, Germany, France, Italy and back to America – quite a journey for this month’s Six Degrees!


6 responses

  1. I was equally struck by this book. I love the language and descriptions, humorous, witty and pointed, yet the story line was heart-breaking. I still think about this one regularly. I hadn’t read this author before, so I am curious to know more. I like your idea of chains and the meme, so I will try to join in one month.

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