One of my New Year resolution’s was to read more. I used to read all the time when I was younger, and that slowly dwindled down to maybe one book a year. Maybe.
So for Christmas I asked Santa Claus for books. I had a list of about 10 that I wanted, and I’m slowly making my way through them. It’s taking a little longer than expected, because I got excited about my reading prospects and therefore I went through a little buying-but-not-reading stage; buying more and more books, without reading any.
But that has changed! So far this year I’ve read 8 books. Which, to me, is a lot. And I’m very impressed with myself! I know the reading and book community online is huge, and I’ve been following a few book-ish people who helped me continue on my quest of reading.
Which brings me here. I’m going to try something a little different: a book blog! I’ve stayed away from writing reviews before, because even though I study literature, I find it hard to write technical reviews: commenting on the writing style, the techniques etc.
So my thoughts on these books are basically what I enjoyed, or didn’t enjoy about them. Take ’em, or leave ’em.
1. All We Shall Know, Donal Ryan
This was my first time reading Donal Ryan, and I absolutely loved it. I finished it in about two days – I was always a quick reader – and was really wowed by it.
The book tells the story of Melody Shee tackling her new pregnancy, who the father is, and dealing with that within a small community.
My favourite bit in the book, the one that made me put the book down and re-read that section again, was the wedding passage. How Ryan detailed and described the wedding was intense. It’s only about one page out of the whole book, but I can still remember it.
I also found it interesting how the main character was a pregnant woman, written by a man. What was interesting was that you couldn’t tell; the writing was so valid.
My rating: 4/5.
2. Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
My second book of the year was also a Christmas present, one I had heard many good things about. I so very much wanted to love this book, but I ended up just liking it.
I’m not the biggest fan of chapter-changing viewpoints anyway, but this one worked as every person’s story was inter-twining, leading me to refer back to the family tree at the start of the book.
We hear the story of each family member, see the effect slavery has on a family, even to this day. The different cultures were fascinating to read, and the slavery parts equally difficult.
My rating: 3.5/5.
3. Bad Feminist, Roxanne Gay
For my third book, I turned to a non-fiction that had been on my shelves for ages. This book graces several lists of “Books Every Feminist Should Read”, so I had been dying to give it a go.
Gay covers so many different topics, it was a little hard to get into at first. While there is one common theme, the changing subjects can be difficult if you’re used to a linear story.
Her writing about race and in particular the film The Help, were so educational for me. I am always open to learning new things and hearing about what other people went through, are going through and have to go through that I have no experience of, is something we should all do.
My rating: 3.5/5.
4. Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
This was my first time reading Adiche, and I had verrrry high expectations. My English teacher in school raved about this book, and we almost studied it. Therefore, I was very excited to get into it.
While I’m all for a slow burning story – which this one had – it was almost a little too slow for me. The story was interesting, and I loved the love between Kambili and Father Amadi, but I found myself waiting for something happen.
Maybe I missed something, but I just couldn’t get into it, and it was a little bit of a tough read.
My rating: 3/5.
5. Swing Time, Zadie Smith
My fifth book had all the markings of a novel I’d love, but it couldn’t have been further from that.
I really had to force myself through this book. I found the sentences never-ending, and couldn’t enjoy the writing style.
I tried and tried but it felt like it took the whole book for something and nothing to happen.
My rating: 2/5.
6. The Mandarins, Simone de Beauvoir
Don’t get the wrong idea about me; I may have been living in France but I read this book in English.
My brother bought me this book for my birthday, and he hit the nail on the head. I absolutely love stories set around war-time – granted, this one was set after WW2 had ended – and philosophy. I loved this book.
Some parts were difficult, as so much of the discourse was about the politics at that time, which had me Googling the history of the USSR.
This was so close to a 4 star review, but because so much of it was about politics that I didn’t know – maybe because of my own ignorance, I’ll admit that – it meant some times my eyes glazed over.
But don’t let that sway you, I loved this book.
My rating: 3.999999/5.
7. Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
My second taste of Adiche, and it was like a completely different experience.
It gave me all the feels – such technical language, much intellect – and the discussions of race and just, wow.
My rating: 4/5.
8. Girls Will Be Girls, Emer O’Toole
This is another non-fiction that blew my mind. Seriously, the discussions on gender and femininity were incredible.
I may not have changed the way I dress or see myself, but it really opened my eyes. The writing style was accessible, funny and open.
It’s written like the reader doesn’t know anything about sex and gender, but that doesn’t hinder it, it only helps it.
Honestly, you need to read this book.
My rating: 4.5/5.
What I’m reading now: Closed Casket, Sophie Hannah.
This is definitely out of comfort zone, something I’ve never really read before. Sophie Hannah is channeling Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot in this book, so it’s completely different for me.
I’m not 100% feeling it so far, but I’m only around 50 pages in so I’m going to keep going for the next little while.
Aaaand that’s me so far for 2017. Please share any and all thoughts with me!