Sunday 29 July 2018

Things I Read in June

Hiiiiii! I know, I know, I'm completely and utterly late with the things I've read in June and it's practically the end of July and I should just go and slink away into a hole or something. I. Know. I am very ashamed. However, for once I have (kind of) a good excuse that doesn't even involve laziness so much as (minor) surgery that has left me achy and sore and... well not too grumpy cause my boyfriend did a stellar job of looking after me, but grumpy because boooooored, ya know?

I mean, I've also been back at work two weeks now, so I have no excuse for that time period so yeahhhh... SHAME FACE.
I genuinely think about this all the time.

June was a BIT of a month. Just a bit. It started with my mum's 60th Birthday (literally, her birthday is 1st June), my cousin got married (FREAKING MARRIED!) which was exciting and a beautiful day, and I went to the zoo and I saw Foo Fighters and there was all sorts of wedding admin going on for both my sister and cousin's weddings, and basically, it was super tiring. I'm not saying that it has been a lovely relaxing break having holes punched into my stomach and cysts drained from my ovaries, but I'm also not NOT saying that (I am joking, I wouldn't recommend that as a method of taking a break. Seriously.)

Anyway. What did I read in June though, I hear you cry? I dunno, let's look:
Firstly, I have to apologise for the crappy photo- I'm hardly a photography wizard anyway, but this month I feel like I hit a new low... did you want the sun in your eyes? You didn't? TOO BAD!

Anyway. That indistinct form on top of the books is my iPad because lo and behold, I read a couple of ebooks last month, look at me go! I use the kindle app on the iPad (and on my phone) and yes I know amazon, and yes I'm sorry. SORRY. Let's talk books though, yes?

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
I hardly read YA at all because I JUST CAN'T ok, but I had read some good things about The Hate You Give online, and found a copy at my mum's house (I think it's my sister's?) and so I subtly borrowed it. It was good! I'm never going to go to YA for the greatest writing in the world (and I want that always), and I didn't get that here, but I found this really thought provoking and interesting, and also very humanising in a way that black people do not always get in literature or culture or media or... you get the idea. It made me pretty angry since, you know, a black teen gets shot in the first chapter and that. Shit. Is. Actually. Happening, but I think it's important to be mad about it and to try and do things to change it. Reading this book is maybe a tiny start.

The Children Who Lived in a Barn by Eleanor Graham
At this point, I feel pretty much assured that I'm going to have a good time when I read a Persephone book. This book was no exception, and I'll start with the foreword which is by my favourite author as a child, Jacqueline Wilson. In it, she describes reading this book as a child, and how, even though she can read a book now and remember nothing about it a week later (lol, I feel you, JW) she remembers the exact plot of this, as well as other childhood books so well. It just made me feel all warm and fuzzy cause that's how I feel about her books as well as a few other childhood favourites. This book, I know, if I had read it would have been one of my favourite books because it touched all of my kids books tingly spots- children forced to fend for themselves, the difficult realities of their everyday lives, the people who help them... It's just all good stuff. It was a weird experience to read and think, who knows, maybe one day I might have a kid who will read this and it'll become one of their childhood favourites - you just never know!

Just Kids by Patti Smith
I had some interesting feelings about Just Kids, which, firstly, was written with such beautiful sorting prose that it made me feel almost breathless, so nice work Patti. My interesting feelings were, I think, feminist ones, where it felt like Patti was putting herself and her work aside to help and to forward the work of Robert Mapplethorpe, but then the book is basically a memoir of the relationship between the two and is not really any of my business to comment upon. That's the weird feeling it actually left me with- this idea that, although it maybe made me feel a little uncomfortable in a feminist way, this is actually so intimate, and so between the two of them that I felt, and still feel, extremely uncomfortable commenting on it at all in a critical sense. Really though - A+++ writing.

Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti
I'm not sure why I ended up reading two kindle books in a row in June, or where the heck my physical books were, but it is what it is. I also don't remember buying Why Have Kids which leads me to assume that it was a Kindle Daily Deal purchase early one morning because yeahhhh... Anyway, this book was fine. It wasn't really an exploration of why you should or shouldn't have kids (say, focusing on overpopulation vs human need to reproduce or something like that, which I would totally read) but more on why people should stfu on commenting on women who have, or have chosen not to. THIS I can get on board with, so I did mostly read it going 'THEY DID WHAT?!' or 'yeah, she SHOULD do what she wants' and so on. This was pretty much preaching to the choir, but I'm kind of glad someone wrote it.

Also it is bullshit that maternity leave is not a legal thing in the US and I'm sorry your country sucks so bad. ALSO it is bullshit that in most countries paternity leave is only 2 weeks, but that's a whole other story.

Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski
Ummm. Bukowski. Listen. I got the point of this book (a kind of bildungsroman for horrible people) but I just kind of... didn't like it? It would be reductive to say 'too many male characters' cause, I get it, boys growing up have their own tribes and blah blah blah but the women in this book were basically just the main characters mother and women he found attractive and wanted to fuck. I'd call it misogynistic but it's pretty much just misanthropic, and not really my cup of tea at all. Can you both get something and not really like it? Cause I'm pretty sure that's what happened here.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
I went to Naples in April and I think a little bit beforehand, my friend sent me a link to an Elena Ferrante article in The Guardian which I found was excellent, and then I found the first two Neapolitan novels in a charity shop and the rest is history. This book is almost the exact opposite of Ham on Rye- the story of two girls, growing up in Naples, with different opportunities and different attitudes and outlooks on life, but still a certain sense of love and devotion between them. It is still, disturbingly, incredibly rare to read a book about the friendships between women, which is so ridiculous when, speaking as a woman, these are the bulk of our friendships. They may not quite shape our big life decisions in quite the same way as a romantic relationship, but they shape us in hundreds and thousands of tiny ways, every day. This book is important, and more than that it's good engaging and unflinching and not just, like, sweet and lovely because they're women, but complicated and deep and interesting because they are. I'm currently on the third book in the quadrilogy and STILL LOVING IT, oh yes.

Little Boy Lost by Margharita Laski
Once again- you know you're going to get a good read with a Persephone! This book, about the search for a child lost during WWII was very moving, and then towards the end, kind of annoying. The main character is the child's father, but the child's father is kind of a tool- some of which can be put down to the stress of wanting to find his son, but some of it is just him being a tool, which makes it kind of hard to root for him. Still, the ending was super satisfying, and I guess I have to read books about men SOMETIMES... I guess...

And that was June! Stay tuned for what I read in July in mere days because I am not doing the same thing again next month, all of this was a real struggle to remember! I hope you've had, well, two great months, and please, believe my lies when I tell you I'll be back on top of things in August. IT'S THE THREE WEDDING SUMMER, IT'S KILLING MEEEEEEE.