I made it my intention to read more this year, and really dedicate time and attention to learning and thinking since I’ve been working, not studying, for the first time ever.
I’ve managed to read a fair few books, and also started many books, since returning from the UK. I haven’t done a ‘What I’m Reading’ kind of post since I first started this blog so I figured it’d be a nice update!
I’ll start with what I’m reading at the moment, which is actually quite a few different books. I like to keep physical paper books to read at home, then have ebooks when I’m travelling, as I’m quite partial to small handbags.
The first paper book being Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’. I haven’t finished it, I’m deliberately taking it slowly to savour it. I loved ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ which I read for the first time earlier this year. If you like, I can review it in detail when I finish, but that may be a little while yet. I bought this book in the UK, still unsure if I should considering the debate over Lee’s awareness of it’s publication. I’m not sure, but I couldn’t resist. So far, all I can say is I’m really identifying with Jean Louise but that may just be because I’m a similar age and equally as confused about my adolescence.
The next paper book is Russell Brand’s ‘Revolution’. I was given this for Christmas and, again, it’s another that I’m deliberately taking my time with. I don’t know about you, but I like having books to come back to as a comfort-thing, so ones I like I try to keep going for as long as possible.
I like Russell. He’s controversial, has a strong voice, and uses words that not everyone understands. So he ticks all the boxes for me. ‘Revolution’ is a political book, so it’s not necessarily easy-reading, and sometimes Brand’s voice is a bit too strong, so I have to read some passages once or twice more to really grasp what he’s saying.
Considering the nature of the book, it’s not so gripping and enlightening as I find fictional books to be, but it’s certainly food for thought. I like that it’s the perfect book to pick up every now-and-then to learn something new. As before, let me know if you do want a detailed review when I finish it!
Now on to eBooks.
A while ago, I downloaded Jean-Paul Sartre’s ‘Nausea’. I’m very early on, but I can feel it’s pretty intense. However, I absolutely love his way of writing, it feels like a conversation and puts me in a glorious hypnagogic state. Although I’ve heard this book is quite dark, I feel like the character is very relatable, which is probably the main reason I keep reading. I’m very excited to see what kind of epiphany I’ll have with this one!
I’ve also very recently started reading Maya Angelou’s ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’. Again, I’m still very early-on, but I’m very excited to see how the characters develop considering how strong the voice and tone is already. Also, Angelou’s use of words is like poetry, she has an incredible knack for describing things in the most satisfying way.
As for books I’ve recently finished, I’ll take a little time to dissect them here. I’d love to know your opinions as well!
Let me talk to you about ‘The First Bad Man’. I haven’t read anything by Miranda July before, and was only slightly familiar with her work after someone once told me I looked like her when I had shorter hair. I’m not sure what intrigued me so much about this one, perhaps the vague and ambiguous reviews combined with the completely neutral cover. Anyway, when I saw it in WHSmith before leaving the UK, I just had to have it.
First of all, I didn’t find the protagonist likable. I’m sure this is July’s intention, but she starts off on an irritating tone. July lures you into a comfortable pillow of predictability, assuming it will be some kind of love-lost story, all told through the view of a stuffy, awkward and seemingly immature Cheryl.
You can’t predict the twist, as it’s too odd and just unbelievable. The pace of the book is as slow and lulling as Cheryl, until something happens and it feels like you’re running with her. Next thing I know, I finished the book within 3 days, physically exhausted from that mental breakthrough.
I’m not saying it’s enlightening or anything, but the amount of information and emotions July manages to project through such a simple character is impressive. I didn’t like nor dislike Cheryl by the end, but I feel like the book made me feel astonished, empowered, uncomfortable and amused simultaneously. I can’t explain it well, just read it and tell me what you think!
I finished it a few weeks back, and I still haven’t fully made my mind up about it, so I’ll give it a slightly-confused 7/10.
Another eBook, I downloaded Albert Camus’ ‘The Stranger’ quite a while ago now, and it took me a while to get through. It’s not the lightest of books, nor the most optimistic, but it does get you thinking.
When I first finished, I felt like there was a serious anti-climax. Although, after some time, I thought about it and actually felt quite emotional towards the main character, and realised how much I identified with him. It’s basically about how a man is excluded from society, in quite an extreme way, purely for not acting and reacting in the desired way. It’s quite an extreme book, now I look-back on it, although feels very casual and distanced which must be purely because of the character’s voice.
It really makes you reassess your priorities, which is something I find myself doing a lot since moving to a foreign country. I feel like I’m analysing my own situation in a different way thanks to this book so I’ll give it a 9/10.
If you’ve read or are reading any of these books do let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations!