Book talk · Reviewing my monthly reads

Reviewing my March reads

A little late due to other commitments but here’s what I’ve been reading last month. It was my best month for reading of 2017!

Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher

I decided to start with something a little different, something that felt timely and by a lady I’d very much been meaning to read more on for a while. I think the world generally felt the loss of Carrie Fisher pretty hard, it was a sad day and she seemed like an incredible lady I wish I’d have had the chance to spend some time with. What we have left instead is her art; be it her films or her books. I picked this up for a bargain price on the Kindle store and enjoyed it. It’s a brisk read, and I liked the inclusion of photographs from her life, it was a nice touch.

It was fascinating to read a lot of it in her own words and how this book was, in the most part, therapy for her to cope with and remember herself, her life and life without alcohol and substances. I’m sure that as a live show, it worked very well. It’s packed full of interesting anecdotes, incredibly honest and also very funny. I smiled, I laughed and I was even occasionally shocked. I liked her musing about an AU Star Wars world too, above.

 

To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf

I’d been meaning to read more Woolf, I’m ashamed to say I’d never read this either. I thought I did as a young teenager but I couldn’t remember it if so. I’d be lying if I said that the style of writing didn’t test me a little. This is old fashioned, as its age would suggest, and a far more formal style of prose than I prefer as my bedtime reading, but I really enjoyed it nonetheless. Of course, it’s not really about a lighthouse at all, much more about life, family and the journey of it all, but it makes a beautiful metaphor and I enjoyed spending time with the Ramsey family/staff/friends throughout their lives and what the lighthouse meant to each of them.

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I included the above paragraph as I read this one on Kindle, so no pretty books, but I really liked it. As books go, I think this collection of descriptive writing is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Lovely. The whole book is full of paragraphs and delightfully, eloquent sentences. Once you get used to the style, it’s worth it and so rewarding. I’ve read few things so vivid that are equally like stepping into a surreal dream/film.

 

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Preacher Volume 1 – Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon

I’m yet to watch the TV series adapted from the comics, I promised myself that I’d delve back into the comics first. So I worked my way through Volume 1 (the first 12 issues brought together) in about a day because I forgot how damn good it is. Great illustration, accompanied by a clever narrative that’s funny, dark and imaginative. It’s got everything you could want in a comic, sprawling American landscapes, guns, rock and roll lifestyle, bizarre happenings, a whole heap of violence and some very, very bad men.

Tulip and Cassidy make great sidekicks for the Preacher himself, though he does get the cracker of the lines. One of the best there is, I’ll say no more because it needs to be read. It’s one of the smarter, better written comics I’ve read.

BONUS READS…

The Power – Naomi Alderman

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Possibly my favourite of all of the books I read in March, I absolutely raced through this because I just couldn’t get enough. I guess it’s set in a dystopian world where girls/women find themselves with a power and we go on from there. It’s fascinating subject matter and told from the perspective of several girls made it even more interesting. I adored the character of Roxy and the way the book was tackled and written. It felt unique but discussed some interesting points about gender rules and roles, of how power can be abused and corrupted and of how quickly the world could change if something like this did happen. It spans several countries and sub characters in its journey and I loved every single minute of it.

It manages to turn up the ante as it goes on, the world becoming more and more terrifying as the situation escalates. It’s how things are in the world we live in, reversed, but just over-exaggerated and to the extreme. My feelings towards the characters and the story changed. I went from feeling empowered at the beginning to feeling a little sick by the end. So is the way of power and what it does. If I’m honest, it blew my mind. I was pleased I didn’t need to write a review quickly because I needed time to mull it over, to process it. I’m shocked that there’s not already been a film adaptation of it, one must be following, right? Or a mini-series, the potential is there. It’s thought-provoking and I suspect if I look back and do a top 10 reads of the year, this will make the cut.

 

Fever Pitch – Nick Hornby

The quote in my feature image sums up what it is about this book that I love. Those who know me, or have read other entries on this blog, will know that one of my true loves is my football team, Leicester City. I’m not sure I would consider it an obsession, but then I consider the lengths I’ve gone to for my club and think that maybe I’m just in denial. It felt about time to re-read Fever Pitch and to remind myself how brilliant it is, and how much of it I can relate to.

Hornby perfectly captures what it is to be dedicated to something that doesn’t really care for your feelings; how you remember tiny, intricate details and dates of matches but not a loved one’s birthday or something genuinely important. It explores how deep the obsession goes, how entire years can be made or broken by your team’s success, or lack thereof and generally what it is to be a real football fan. It’s equally fascinating because it charts the time when football generally stopped being for the fans and more about the money. Obviously it’s escalated somewhat since this book, but the early warning signs are here. I may not be an Arsenal fan, nor did I stepped foot into his beloved Highbury (before it was demolished) but I can associate to so many of the words, the feelings, the despair, the joy and the sheer mentalness that comes with the sport. I really, really enjoyed getting back through this book again. I also managed to record the film adaptation the other day so I can move onto that shortly!

 

My Dear, I meant to tell you – Louisa Young

A recommendation from my Mum, I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed this one. My only niggle with it indeed is the title, I just found it a little cheesy. Though when you find out that it’s a genuine note from a lover to his estranged, it does make sense.

Set at the start of World War One, it follows a young man who, in what seems a rushed, panicked decision enlists for no reason other than to get away, seemingly ruining his chances with the girl he loves. It goes on from there, a tale told from two perspectives. One of the soldiers in the trenches, suffering, despairing and stuck in a version of hell and one back in England, primarily set around a hospital treating severe head and facial injuries. There’s a fascinating sub-plot about the medical science in place at the time, much of which is very factually accurate, the treatments in place and the length of time the poor soldiers had to stay in while they underwent extensive and often painful remedies. The science was very much ahead of its time though and is incredibly interesting. I’ll admit it was all unknown to me, so I found it especially fascinating.

The love story at the heart of the novel is also gripping and despite being tough to get through in parts, the sense of hope remains. My copy had a little interview with the author at the end too, talking about the inspiration behind the book and the secret as to why the medical parts are so accurate. Her Grandmother was a nurse at one of the facial-injury specialist hospitals. I’m looking forward to picking up the sequels when I can justify the money and carrying on with this story.

Nod – Adrian Barnes

My final read of the month was another unplanned one. I was really on a kick this month and finally got around to reading this, one I picked up for 99p ages ago. I’d forgotten what it was about and was pleasantly surprised at the unique story and how it felt original. It’s another set in a future time, where the majority of people suddenly find themselves unable to sleep. Only a handful, mostly kids, are not struck by the phenomenon and the book looks at the days that follow and what a lack of sleep does to the world. Told from a first person perspective, we follow Paul, a reclusive writer and one of the few ‘sleepers’ as he has to deal with a whole new world.

Not necessarily told in chronological order, I really enjoyed this one. The narrative style is gripping, felt relate-able and had a lot to say. It’s an exploration of faith, of religion, of humanity and of how we treat one another. Much like ‘The Power’, things escalate very quickly and it’s pretty horrific and terrifying at times. I enjoyed where it went though and the twists. It’s almost like a fresh take on the zombie genre with how things play out, but it had its own identity. I’ll definitely be looking out for more from Barnes.

 

April’s Planned Reads:-

I’m conscious that it’s already the 5th and I’ve yet to start any books so I’ve set myself a short list and we’ll see if I can add some extras in again. But for now…

Paper Girls, Vol. 2 – Brian K. Vaughan

It’s not me, it’s you – Jon Richardson

Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

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