This was an excellent book and you might wonder why I haven't given it five stars. Many people have given it five stars and they are right. I, however, am mean and stingy with my stars. Girl Reading is Katie Ward's first book, and I am quite certain that she will give me some five star material soon. She is probably writing something five-staresque as we speak.Girl Reading is really a collection of short stories posing as a novel. I think I can see a trend there - does it mean that publishers are finally starting to embrace short stories, the eternal bastard child of the publishing world?I hope so. Katie Ward based her stories around different work of arts depicting women reading. And we're talking a journey from 14th century to the year 2060. It is often a problem with short story anthologies that while reading you are abruptly taken out of one story and thrown into another one. Surprisingly, the transition in 'Girl Reading' is astonishingly seamless, and that despite different characters, times and locations. This was what I found most impressive about the book.The stories are simply beautiful. Katie Ward can knock out most other debut writers out there in the first round and her imagination is vivid enough for her to take on David Mitchell. She writes about paintings which show women reading or writing and it gets very clever and metaphysical.In the last story all the stories come together and make sense (or don't at all, depending on how smart you are). My only tiny complaint (you know I had to) is that the book doesn't use inverted commas for dialogues. I honestly and truly do not understand this new fashion. It seems to me as if they are trying to make the book more impenetrable and confusing to create the impression it is more 'literary'. Really unnecessary, this book is probably too clever for its own good as it is.Anyway, note her name down, Katie Ward is my new darling.