Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You” as Want to Read:
This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  587 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
A man builds a tree house by a river, in anticipation of the coming flood. A sugar-beet crashes through a young woman's windscreen. A boy sets fire to a barn. A pair of itinerant labourers sit by a lake, talking about shovels and sex, while fighter-planes fly low overhead and prepare for war.

These aren't the sort of things you imagine happening to someone like you. But som
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published February 2012 by Bloomsbury UK
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Popular Answered Questions

Geoff Smith I think a lot of readers, myself included, struggle from time to time with the 'literary' view of a short story. I think that the fashion for short…moreI think a lot of readers, myself included, struggle from time to time with the 'literary' view of a short story. I think that the fashion for short stories at present is that they pitch in somewhere between novelistic fiction and poetry.

Consequently they are often more about an idea or them than they are about an or action. I think McGregor is doing this well in most of the stories in this book. And I am enjoying it quite a lot.

I do think that the 'poetic' features of 'literary' short stories do make them a bit his and miss, just as poems in a poetry collection can often feel that way.(less)
This Book Is Full of Spiders by David WongTony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma by Kerry HudsonThe Fault in Our Stars by John GreenSwallowing a Donkey's Eye by Paul TremblayMy Mother Was An Upright Piano by Tania Hershman
The Best Titles of 2012
8th out of 23 books — 64 voters
Catching the Barramundi by Rebecca  BurnsShod by Mark    GoodwinThis Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You by Jon McGregorThe Lighthouse by Alison MooreFresh Air and the Story of Molecule. John Gallas, Sarah Kirby by John Gallas
East Midlands Book Award
3rd out of 131 books — 4 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 28, 2013 Teresa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
These stories make up a true collection, one of place. Perhaps because much of it is set in the fens, at times I was reminded of Graham Swift's Waterland and that I want to reread that novel one day. Only two of the stories have recurring characters, but it's as if each story needs the other to achieve that unifying impression of place, and that alone was impressive. (The sum being much greater than its parts?)

Some of the stories are brilliant, but none reached the high bar set by his novels. A
Mar 29, 2012 Alan rated it really liked it
I really wanted to give this 5 stars, because a good half or more of the stories are just terrific. I also see McGregor as one of the great up and coming English fiction writers (as opposed to British – there’s no end of brilliant Scottish, Irish and Welsh writers). Him and Ross Raisin. You feel with McGregor he is always pushing at boundaries in order to express himself with more accuracy, with more empathy. So he bends the usual practises of fiction in order to make us feel. It puts some ...more
Heather Noble
Aug 08, 2012 Heather Noble rated it really liked it
I think the title is ironic. The sort of things that happen in the stories can and do happen to many of us but it is the consideration and contemplation of the events that show us the extraordinary in ordinary lives.
The stories are mostly set in a specific and closely observed landscape in an indistinct time when the characters seem to be on the brink of or living through a catastrophic situation.
Some of the stories are far more engaging and intriguing than others and I think the author is playi
WCN Book Club
May 30, 2013 WCN Book Club rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review by Sam Ruddock - Summer Reads Producer

This Isn't The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You could be the title of any of Jon McGregor's four published books. He's a writer interested in moments that change lives and the legacy of these upon his characters. His debut, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, took this concept literally, fusing narratives charting the effects of a single incident and using them to create tension as another narrative built to that crescendo moment. Eve
The Joy of Booking
Mar 22, 2012 The Joy of Booking rated it really liked it
These short stories range from stream-of-consciousness monologue to the cold hard precision of a bureaucratic report to the awkward rambling of a transcript. Each is haunting and indelible, while being utterly impressive – impressive in the sense of being impressed upon the reader, of leaving a mark.

This is one of the very best collections I’ve ever read, and if you’re a fan of short fiction, particularly short fiction that leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination, this is right up your alley. T
Jun 25, 2014 Rosy rated it it was amazing
My friend the crime writer Jim Kelly whose books are set in Ely and King's Lynn, recommended this collection to me because my novel Ninepins was set in the fens and these stories, too, all have the fen landscape as their backdrop - though in this case Lincs rather more than Norfolk or Cambs.

I was totally blown away - so much so that I felt completely disorientated when reading it on the train back from London and nearly missed my stop at Cambridge station and ended up adrift in King's Lynn - wh
This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You is a collection of short stories: 30 stories, of varying lengths (one is just one sentence; one is thirty pages) and varying styles (1st-person, 2nd-person, and 3rd person narration are all used; one story is in the form of a numbered list of "Supplementary Notes To The Testimony Of Appellants B & E"; another is a list of place names). I don't read that many short story collections, and I don't know why not: when they're good, as ...more
Jul 19, 2012 Emmett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
The most unique collection of short stories I have read so far. I'm not even sure some of them could be termed as such. His voice is simple yet intriguing at times; the way he describes everything is so beautiful, some so dreamy and yet matter-of-fact. He brings out feeling in the subtlest of ways. However in some of them I wasn't sure what was going on. Is there a theme in this collection which ties everything or at least some of these stories together? I get the feeling there is but I can't ...more
David Meldrum
Feb 11, 2014 David Meldrum rated it really liked it
I passionately love McGrgeor's writing - he's a prose poet of the highest talent; he writes with beauty, wit, compassion and deep insight. All of these qualities are apparent in this volume of short stories and poems; some of them easy and accessible, others downright odd but no less brilliant for that. If there's a unifying theme here, for me it's about the lenses we view events and life through and how those shift over time. Whatever the unifying theme, McGregor remains for me one of the ...more
Jul 16, 2014 Sarah rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014-books
I have loved all of Jon McGregor's other novels - but this one was not for me sadly. Never been a huge fan of short stories and just didn't really get these. I thought they may be linked but could draw no relationships other than the locations. Many of them finished without an ending - I know you are meant to interpret your own ending but it just made me frustrated. A couple were OK and kept me reading more avidly but there were many I just didn't understand :-(
Dec 15, 2015 Sian rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book of short stories to read on a train travelling through the east of England on a grey day.

Ira Nadhirah
Nov 06, 2015 Ira Nadhirah rated it really liked it
Buku ini telah mengajar aku yang, ending sesebuah cerita memang tidak penting langsung. Fuck endings. Let's just live!
Jun 24, 2016 Thekelburrows rated it liked it
A hit-or-miss collection from a writer that definitely has a lot of talent and potentially greatness to come.
Simon Hemmings
Jan 27, 2015 Simon Hemmings rated it it was amazing
Read it. That is my recommendation.
Alison Hardtmann
Nov 18, 2016 Alison Hardtmann rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-but-unowned
Jon McGregor writes with an understated beauty that astonishes me. I read [So Many Ways to Begin] last year, and loved the quiet story with all the power running underneath the surface. He's a subtle writer. In his new short story collection McGregor keeps his understated writing style, but many of his stories take place in a dystopian world set in the near future. There's a lot going on, but the author leaves the reader to discover what's going on in the asides and background. Some of the ...more
Roger Brunyate
May 29, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it really liked it
Shelves: stories
Interactive Storytelling

Jon McGregor doesn't so much tell stories as invite the reader to find them. Take the first two items in this collection, one short, the other fairly long. "That Colour" is a single paragraph of just over a page. A woman standing in the front row of a cottage calls to a man washing dishes in the kitchen to come and look at the autumnal leaves over the road. He finishes the washing; he comes to her; he takes her hand. That is all. But the writing makes you ask questions—ab
Jan 29, 2015 Danièle rated it really liked it
With this book I made my acquaintance with Jon McGregor's short stories. I'm not much of a short story reader generally, but if someone can promise me they're all this good I will pick them up more often.

As previously with McGregor, I am highly impressed. One of his great strengths is making the most of the things that are unsaid. With what he writes, he manages to draw the outline of the unsaid things, not only showing the shape (if not the detailed content) clearly, but also showing up the eff
Vicki Jarrett
Nov 21, 2012 Vicki Jarrett rated it liked it
I’m a huge fan of Jon McGregor’s novel’s – If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things is one of my favourite books, ever. So, as a keen reader of short stories, I was tremendously excited to get my hands on This Isn’t The Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You – so much so I even bought it in hardback, which I haven’t done with another book in as long as I remember. These stories are more experimental, more subtle than the novels (not that they were unsubtle or conventional, quite the ...more
Mar 13, 2012 JDK1962 rated it it was ok
When I first began reading this volume, I thought perhaps that the stories were connected. They all appear to take place in Lincolnshire (with one exception, which takes place in Japan, in which a main character from the Lincolnshire area is on vacation), and the author is careful to note specific place names. However, the stories themselves seem to have little to do with the named places, and most could have taken place anywhere.

Some of the stories are experimental in nature. An early story int
Carlotta Eden
May 31, 2016 Carlotta Eden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read collections, sometimes I stop midway and forget about it until later, much later, sometimes months later. Then I forget the stories that I've read (I don't have a very good memory) and start reading anew (this is not a bad thing).

The same happened with the stories in this book. Most of the stories in this book are quite experimental structurally – but they are all stories that you'd want to read, no matter where you saw them. The boy who accidentally kills a man and buries him in a f
Kelly deVos
Nov 30, 2015 Kelly deVos rated it it was amazing
Every story in this book is very unique and very special. This collection of thirty short stories from Booker-nominated novelist, Jon McGregor, is for those who love beautiful, poetic prose and often very experimental formats. The stories are unified only by place – they are almost all set in Eastern England. The main purpose of the volume seems to be to explore the relationship between characters and setting – or maybe between people and places. Some of the stories are extremely experimental. ...more
Russell George
Sep 02, 2016 Russell George rated it it was amazing
It’s inevitable with any short story collection that it’s relatively hit and miss. It’s about 60-40 in this case, but I think McGregor is a genius at times, and his style suits the form. There were some clever endings, but also a couple that left me wondering whether the idea had just run out of steam and he'd resorted to finishing with an enigmatic non sequitur.

Still, he's a very talented author and I read these very quickly. I did struggle, though, to sense any cohesion across the stories, de
Oct 15, 2015 Julia rated it really liked it
Something wicked this way comes...or maybe more - eerie? Wrong? Read on.

The title pretty much explains the gist of the book - it's set in The Fenlands and my English geography not being my strong point that was an education in itself - the stories all focus around ordinary lives that suddenly take a turn, or rather, drift towards something slightly un-ordinary and provoke a sense of dreamy surprise from the characters - with the suggestion that Something Really Big is going to happen to all of t
This isn't the sort of thing that happens to someone like you by Jon Macgregor - Good

I like Jon Macgregor's style of writing. His prose is almost poetic at times.

This is a collection of short stories so won't appeal to everyone. They are grouped in sections with, what I think is, a town name to unify them. To me, some seem to be related by a vaguely dystopian future: preparing for changes that will be wrought by changing weather and rising oceans, climate migrants, wars etc. Others seem to be a
John Braine
Feb 02, 2015 John Braine rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, short-stories
Considering some of McGregor's novels have a slightly experimental style, it's no surprise to find a few quite experimental pieces in this short story collections. Unfortunately I really disliked some of them. Particularly ones that were something akin to government reports, both in terms of content, and in terms of "how much fun to read", or not.

However there were plenty of good stories to balance that out and even a few exceptional ones. One story about a lonely man who may or may not have be
Liam Watson
Jon McGregor writes well. His style is slow and descriptive, but didn't excite me personally. Short stories are often minimal on plot, which is something that I really enjoy with Raymond Carver and other short story writers, but I just don't think this was my cup of tea.

The stories are experimental. Some are only a page long (one is only one sentence - 'Fleeing Complexity'), and they are written from first person, second person, third person, as case notes ('Supplementary Notes to the Testimony'
Dec 12, 2015 Robert rated it liked it
Hmmm, while I appreciate the spirit of experimentation--and it's nice to know what I, as a writer, can get away with--I couldn't help but think: David Foster Wallace did this sort of thing much better. At times I was also reminded of Georges Perec--but again, what's the point? What IS a story. McGregor joins the ranks of those who seek to expand the definition--but would I want to re-read this book? Was there anything profound? Not really. Would I show this to a student just for drill? ...more
May 24, 2015 Bob rated it did not like it
Didn't like it. Didn't get it. What was the point? Didn't finish it. Part of the problem is that much of this didn't survive the transition from book form to Kindle, at least on my iPad. The translation from English-English to American-English got confusing. Maybe this was supposed to be deep, thought-provoking, maybe over my head. Cheerio, on to the next book, and the next adventure in reading. After this I can hardly wait. Help! Someone call my editor. Or at least buy me a pint. Note: This ...more
May 10, 2012 Alic rated it really liked it
Saw Jon McGregor give a performance of some of these stories at LIncoln Uni last week. Real mix of type, with a common theme of all having a connection with, or being set in Lincolnshire. Fabulous. Just as good as his novels. I love this writing. Real human connectedness.So Many Ways to BeginIf Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
Jan 30, 2015 Topaz rated it it was ok
Proceed with caution! This book rarely makes sense. It's a bunch of short stories and I must admit some of the short stories are really nice. Some are excellent, which the reason I gave two stars. However, the other stories will make you wonder if something went wrong in print because they make absolutely no sense, have no plot, and are a complete bore. I can't recommend this book, it's really not worth the money.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Abbeys Bookshop: Jon McGregor 1 10 May 01, 2012 07:15PM  
  • The Beautiful Indifference: Stories
  • Pulse
  • Dark Lies the Island
  • The Polish Boxer
  • My Mother Was An Upright Piano
  • Your Father Sends His Love: Stories
  • Siege 13
  • The Collected Stories
  • Kapow!
  • Mountains of the Moon
  • All the Rage: Stories
  • Beside the Sea
  • Mo Said She Was Quirky
  • Anthropology
  • In the Devil's Territory
  • Dogma
  • Once You Break a Knuckle
  • Tell Everyone I Said Hi
Jon McGregor is a British author who has written three novels. His first novel, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things was nominated for the 2002 Booker Prize, and was the winner of both the Betty Trask Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award in 2003. So Many Ways to Begin was published in 2006 and was on the Booker prize long list. His newest novel, Even the Dogs was published in 2010.
More about Jon McGregor...

Share This Book