Wednesday 1 June 2016

Things I Read In May

May was a pretty good month for reading. Considering the amount of time I spent with books, I probably could have finished more, but I find that non-fiction usually takes longer to read, but it is also usually completely worth it. I also read a good chunk of the final Dark Tower book so hopefully I'll get that OUT OF MY LIFE in June (I love it but it has taken soooooo long) and essentially, my general battle cry is YAY READING YOU ARE GREAT.

Here's what I read though:

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
You'll forgive me if I cried a little more than usual during this first reading of To Kill A Mockingbird after Harper Lee's death. I'm sure I don't really have to review it (mainly because I already did, here) because we all get the gist, but the emotional resonance for me, this time, was turned up to 11. I'm still really sad that this really is it, and there are no hidden vaults containing maybe 20 Harper Lee novels, but one perfect one really is enough for a person in a lifetime, I reckon. RIP, Harper Lee, and thank you so much for Atticus.

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Astonishingly I have already reviewed this, and in the same month I read it! Unbelievable effort there, I think we can all agree.

Nine Stories by JD Salinger
Having read Nine Stories, I've been thinking about JD Salinger a lot, and I've decided that his stories can almost universally be categorised, and/or dismissed, under the hashtag #richpeopleproblems. To dismiss them because of this alone, however, would be a mistake, not least because Salinger's writing is so good, and real, and honest, that it doesn't really matter that his stories are all about problems that rich people are having, because they start feeling like problems that anyone could have. Each of the Nine Stories are more or less tales of loss, of eccentric characters and difficult situations and just, in general, life. My dislike of The Catcher in the Rye still stands, but fades into the background over just how much I love Salinger's short stories, and I wholly recommend and Holden-haters to try Salinger's short stories, just to see. You might just be pleasantly surprised.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Unbelievably, I have also reviewed this already. I know, I know, I take a bow. If reviews are a bit TL:DR for you though, here are some keywords: feminism, literary criticism, memoir, Iran, history, revolution, AWESOME. The last one is the most important.

Landing by Emma Donoghue
I liked Landing so much that it probably deserves a full review, but the chances of me actually getting around to that seem slim so let's talk about it here a little. Landing is about a chance meeting on an aeroplane, that leads to a long distance relationship, that leads to love. It's also about grief, about stubbornness, about the difficulty about combining two lives when you don't really know about their day-to-day business, and about the incredible gamble that being in love, any kind of love, always involves. Considering the premise, this book could easily have veered into the territory of chick-lit, but considering that the characters in love are both women (lesbians are NEVER covered in chick-lit) and Emma Donoghue is a consistently good writer that never ever ever lets me down, it offers a lot more than just romance, it offers just a little slice of life. It's definitely one of my favourite novels of the year so far, which makes sense because, I'll say it again, it's Emma Donoghue. She's honestly the best.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist, but I don't have much to say about it. It's slightly surprising to me that it's taught in American Colleges (I remember there being some furore about it a little while ago basically based on its title and oh my GOD can someone please teach censors how to read so they can stop being mad at books that are smarter than them) because although I whizzed through this in a few days, I don't have much to say about it in a critical sense. The story is told in a first person monologue, as a street trader in Pakistan tells an American businessman about his time in America, both before and immediately after 9/11, but it's much more subtle than that description would suggest. Although Changez (the speaker) experiences discrimination after the 9/11 of the book, it serves as a subtle backdrop to his story about loving a woman who is unreachable, and working through what's best to do with his life after graduation, which is actually a universal tale. The ending is perhaps the most interesting, especially in a critical sense, but I'm obviously not going to talk about it with you... Unless you've read this too and we'll talk about it in code in the comments. Critically interesting or not, this remains a very good read, and definitely worth your time, even if it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. 

BOOM, May! I kind of smashed it in the reading stakes, and there were even a couple more books I could have finished, had I wanted to permanently injure my back carrying around giant books (I didn't). Let's see what June has to offer. 


  1. Emma Donoghue really is the best. I think I've read everything of hers except Landing and one or two others, I'm trying to pace myself to spread out the last few ones...
    I love JD Salinger's Glass family stuff/short stories! I mean I love Catcher in the Rye, but it annoys me when people dismiss Salinger as just that. So, kudos for you for not letting Holden put you off!

    1. I fully understand the pacing yourself with various authors thing! I have kind of done that with Emma Donoghue because I love her so much (although now I'm craving another one of her books!) and I fully do it with Murakami- I think I *own* all his books now but I can't quite deal with reading them all, because then they'll all be gone!

      I can't deal with The Catcher in the Rye, but I really love his other stuff! That's how it goes sometimes I guess!

  2. Wowzers, that’s some impressive reading & reviewing, lady! I have kept putting off re-reading TKaM since Lee died, but I really, really, really want to read it again soon.

    I watched and really enjoyed The Reluctant Fundamentalist as a film, and I’ve read a different Mohsin Hamid book, but I”ve not read this one. Will have to add to list. Sidebar: the author met his wife at an event hosted by my bookstore.

    Also: I didn’t know that "TL; DR" was a thing. I not long ago finished reading a book where there was a summary at the end of every chapter with that heading. Huh.

    1. Dude, I know right?! Quite proud of all my reading lol. I will always recommend a re-read of TKaM, to be honest, it's basically my favourite!

      Oooh, I didn't realise The Reluctant Fundamentalist was a film too! The book is very good, and EM that is excellent trivia I love it! You basically got that guy married!

      OMG I didn't know TL; DR was a thing until someone commented it on one of my blogposts once (!!!!) and was a bit upset haha, but I am even more upset that that would be in a book? Bad times!

  3. The only Salinger I've read is Catcher which high school me was a fan of and older me...well, understands why younger me liked it while also wanting to smack Holden. Anyway, #richpeopleproblems or not, I should prob check out more of his stuff.

    I also remember enjoying the ending to Reluctant Fundamentalist, although it's been awhile since I read it so I can't remember details, JUST THE FEELING.

  4. Aww, To Kill A Mockingbird. I reread it either last year or the year before and I already want to read it again.

    I always try and leave a little bit of a gap in between readings though, so it's as much of a surprise as possible :)