21 November 2020

October Reading Wrap Up

Three books face up on a maroon jumper

I'm very aware this post is really overdue, but November has just managed to run away from me. We're over halfway through now and what do I have to show for it? A screen time bigger than any I've had before because I've spent a whole load of this new lockdown lying in my bed staring at my phone when I'm meant to be 'reading'. I fell into a complete reading slump last month that I'm trying to recover from still now and just really struggled to get into reading, despite the books I read being things I did enjoy. It just felt like a struggle to pick up a book.

Front cover of 'Nervous conditions' on a kindle on top of a pile of open books

 1.) Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga - 4/5 stars

This is the first book published by a Black Zimbabwean woman in English, and was only published in 1988. It tells the story of a Shona family divided. Tambu is growing up in post-colonial Zimbabwe, and struggling between the identity she formed with her parents, and the one she's starting to form living with her aunt and uncle who recently moved back from England. The book looks at race, colonialism, missionaries and family dynamics. I really enjoyed the fact that the book was told from Tambu's perspective as I felt like I was learning more at the same time as she was.

2) The Switch by Beth O'Leary - 5/5 stars

This was my favourite book I read last month. Eileen and Leena are a grandmother and granddaughter who are both miserable with their lives; there's no excitement for retired Eileen up in Yorkshire, and Leena's struggling to feel happy in her job in London. So the pair decide to switch for 2 months. This was a really heart-warming story. It was told from both perspectives in alternating chapters and is one of the few books I've read like this where I enjoy each perspective as much as the other. It was the only thing that *really* broke me out of my slump as it made for a perfect read to help reduce my corona-ridden anxiety.

Front cover of 'And the Mountains Echoed' next to an unlit candle, small green plant and pajama leg


3.) And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini - 4/5 stars

I read and loved The Kite Runner a couple of years ago, and whilst that's still my favourite of Hosseini's books I've read, I did enjoy this. And the Mountains Echoed occupies this weird space half way between being a novel and being a collection of short stories. We begin in Afghanistan with Abdullah and his sister Pari, who are torn apart when their father sells Pari to a rich couple who can't have kids. Each story is then told from the perspective of someone who is in some way connected with the two families. The book spans generations and I was weeping by the end of it. My one gripe is that I'm not a fan of short stories, but trying to work out how each new main character was connected to the story at the heart of the book was something I enjoyed.

4.) The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty - 4/5 stars

This gripping thriller is another one told from multiple perspectives. We have three main characters in the book: Cecilia, Rachel and Tess, living in suburbs in Australia. An affair, a mysterious letter and an unsolved murder plague each of their lives, and as the book moves ahead, we find that the women are more connected than it first seemed. I was totally hooked on this and found it unputdownable. I felt like I couldn't give it five stars because there were some elements of fatphobia that did ruin the book for me a bit. I now understand the hype around her books with their intense plots however, and want to read another one asap. 

5.) Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham - 3/5 stars

I rarely read autobiographies, and if I'm honest, I'm not sure why I bought this? I'm no big Lauren Graham or Gilmore Girls fan. This takes us through Graham's life from early childhood right up to talking about the GG reunion. I enjoyed the first half of the book learning about her life much more than I did when it got really GIlmore-Girls-y, but if you're a fan of the show this would be a must read.

It felt like I really didn't read much last month, but actually I'm pretty pleased with how many books I did read, and there was nothing I really didn't enjoy.

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