I've been finding reading in lockdown actually a lot more difficult that normal. My anxiety's been on overdrive making it hard to concentrate on what I'm reading and really get stuck into books. Towards the end of last month I switched things up and got back into reading chick flicks, which was helpful in getting back into the swing on things a little. Chick flicks or romance books are something I love, but I'm usually trying to push myself to read something harder and it felt good to come back to this comfort.
1.) The Collaborator by Mirza Waheed. My only kindle read for the month, this was unlike anything I've read before. Set in Kashmir in the early 1990s, the book focuses on a teenage boy who is forced to collaborate with the Indian army to collect the corpses of militants on the run. His four childhood best friends have crossed the border to Pakistan to join the militant group and every day he looks out for their bodies. This was a really insightful read about a situation I knew nothing at all about. I felt as though I learnt a lot from the book, and the writing was very powerful too.
2.) The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins. The plot for this was completely unique, and very important I feel. Set in Britain after slavery has been abolished, Frannie is brought to England as a servant and given by her old master to a new family. There she falls in love with the mistress, and realises that she is queer. The book starts off with Frannie being accused of murdering the mistress and her husband, and the book is her confessions of what she's done in her life. As I said, I really loved the idea of the plot, but I feel it wasn't very well written, and that really let it down. There was a lot of plot crammed into a not very long book, but I found it very slow at times.
3.) The Lord of the Flies by William Golding. This is a re-read for me as I studied it for my GCSE English course, and I wanted to see if it was as shocking as I'd remembered. It was. A group of boys are trapped on an island and must work together to ensure they have food, shelter and fire. However, they start to turn against one another and things go rapidly downhill. I was definitely a lot more horrified by the thought of these boys turning murderous within such a short space of time than I remember being as a teen.
4.) The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva is one of the best books I've read where the main character has OCD. Amy is a normal woman trying to get through her normal work and social life, but is struggling because of her OCD. With a big trip to Australia on the cards with her work, Amy's just not sure whether she can overcome some of her fears to make the trip a possibility. The portrayal of Amy's mental health really was excellent in this. She struggles a lot with OCD, which then stems into anxiety and ultimately depressive episodes. There's no 'quick fix' in the book, but it's really great at showing how you could help a friend struggling in a similar way. I think there were a few bits of the book that could have been tightened up, or edited more perhaps, but it totally blew past my expectations.
5.) If You Could See Me Now by Cecilia Ahern. I've been meaning to read a book by this author for the longest time, and have just put it off thinking I'd find her books okay, but not great. However, I really enjoyed this one and it totally sucked me out of a bit of a reading slump. When six-year-old Luke starts talking about his friend Ivan, his aunt and caregiver Elizabeth starts Googling what to do about an imaginary friend. However, when she starts to see a man called Ivan too, she thinks the two are unconnected. Ivan doesn't agree with the term 'imaginary friend'; his job is to connect with children that are a little lost and spend time with them to get things back on track. Adults can never see him until Elizabeth does. This was magical realism done well. Often I can find it jarring or disjointed but this really made the book a good one to read, and reminded me a little of reading Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree as a kid.