#20BooksofSummer : June in Review
One month down in my #20BooksofSummer reading challenge (hosted by Cathy at 746 Books) and – surprise, surprise, – I’m more or less on schedule!
My first book was Meena Kandasamy’s When I Hit You. This had been on my radar since it was shortlisted for the 2018 Women’s Prize. I’m always a little sceptical about novels which receive consistently rave reviews, but it gripped me from the very first page. It’s such a powerful and important book, if you haven’t read it already, add it to your list.
I then read Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel. I’ve had this for a while since finding it among the 99p bargains at the Oxfam bookshop, although I was under the impression that it was a sensational ‘gimmicky’ novel for some reason. As it was this month’s book group pick, I got to find out for myself, and it turns out I was wrong. I won’t say too much as I intend to post a longer review of it at some point.
I read Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses earlier in the year, and loved it so much I ordered his first book Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in my Shoes, about a young boy, Arvid Jansen. His ability to capture the world through the eyes of childhood is uncanny. This light volume just left me craving more.
When I’d finished reading Station Eleven, I lent my copy to my friend and fellow book-grouper, Do. I knew I’d be fast asleep after my night shift, so I left the book in my porch for her to pick up, and when I awoke, my book had gone and in its place was a copy of Niccolo Ammaniti’s I’m Not Scared. A brief glance at the first page drew me in and a couple of long baths later and I was left chilled to the bone by this tense Italian thriller. It was a little confusing to read another book told from the perspective of a child so soon after reading Ashes, so there’s been some blurring between the two of them in places – but then I guess that’s to be expected after doing night shifts!
After chancing upon a copy of Ali Smith’s Public Library in my public library, it felt rude not to read it. I’m having a bit of a Smith love-in at the moment, and this was no exception. It’s a collection of short stories interspersed with people’s thoughts and experiences of libraries and what they have meant to them. More than once I had a tear in my eye. It’s made me all the more excited about Spring and Summer making appearances.
With world events leaving me feeling rather raw, I checked the local library shelves for something to provide a little respite from the gloom. Angela Thirkell’s Summer Half proved to be the perfect frothy comedy of manners. Her plots might be airy, and her characters comic, but her prose is sharp and dry – fabulous!
Lastly, while I’ve been utterly engrossed in the World Cup, I’ve been incensed by the ongoing furore over female football commentators (What year are we in again? Yawn!). It’s so depressing that we’re still having to deal with such misogyny and ignorance. Luckily I’ve started reading Mary Beard’s Women and Power which deals with this very issue. While I don’t see inequality evaporating any time soon, it feels so good to read this at this moment in time.
Seven books down, thirteen to go, and two months left to read them all in. Can I keep this up? I think it’s still too early to tell. How’s your summer reading shaping up?