A Month in Books: July

This edition is definitely a bit of a bumper one for me. I’m not very good at just lying around when I’m on holiday so I always make a bit of a dent in my TBR. Though it definitely was a reminder of how hard it is to read a Kindle Fire in the sun.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2013, Abacus)
The Goldfinch was one of the most raved about books of 2013, in part due to the fact that Donna Tartt hasn’t written a book since the early 2000s. This novel tells the story of Theo Decker, who survives a bomb attack as a child which kills his mother and leaves him in the possession of a famous piece of art. The novel then traces his journey to adulthood. I’d really enjoyed both of Tartt’s previous novels, and I probably enjoyed this one the most. Tartt’s writing is excellent-there is a section of this set in Las Vegas which is pretty close to perfect-and Theo is a great, complex character to follow.

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham (2014, Random House)
I really wanted to like this book, as I do think Lena Dunham is an interesting voice. However this just didn’t really win me over at all. There were moments that were funny, and Dunham’s journey to self-acceptance was nice to see. However, there were lots of other times where valid moments were undercut by casual homophobia or racism. Plus, I was slightly weirded out by her relationship with her sister. If you’re a mega fan of Girls, you will probably like this.

Them: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson (2001, Picador)Them is essentially a work of investigative journalism in which Ronson spends time with a variety of people with ‘extreme’ views, all united by the belief that some kind of shady group is running world affairs. Ronson is gifted with an ability to make people very human, until they inevitability do something to undo the portrait he has drawn for them. Them is also super readable as it begins to look like, just maybe, these people are really on to something.

After Eight by Meg Cabot (2006, Macmillan)
After Eight is the eighth installment of The Princess Diaries, which is a series I really want to finish as I’m desperate to read Royal Wedding the ‘adult’ conclusion. This was definitely a book that reminded me that I’m sometimes a little too old to be reading some Young Adult novels. The central theme of this is Mia and Michael attempting to deal with the fact that he is moving abroad, and the epic misunderstanding that results from this. I do still love Mia, but I just wanted to give her a shake this time around!

Underground Time by Delphine de Vigan (2009, Bloomsbury)
I loved No & Me, de Vigan’s YA novel that dealt with homelessness in Paris. Underground Time is an adult release which follows Mathilde who is being beaten down by a hideous boss and Thibault who is finally breaking out of a toxic relationship. This had a lot of promise, but I’m not sure if the translation let this down, as the prose felt really repetitive and clunky which is a shame.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed (2012, Knopf)
This is another book which has been hugely popular, and the release of the film adaptation finally spurred me to read this. Wild follows Strayed’s decision to walk the Pacific Crest Trail alone after her mother’s death sends her in a downward spiral. Whilst I didn’t love this as much as Tiny Beautiful Things, this was a good read and made me feel (for a brief moment) that I could do go on a solo hike.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (2013, Penguin)
Yet another hyped book from a few years ago, The Rosie Project is about Don Tillman, a genetics professor (think Sheldon Cooper) who devises a wife project to scientifically find a perfect partner. Then Rosie, who is the opposite of everything he thinks he wants (of course) and chaos ensues. This has some very cute moments, but I’m not entirely convinced it deserves all the hype that it’s received.

A Room with a View by EM Forster (1908, Penguin)
I took this book with me on holiday as it’s set in Italy, namely Florence where I spent a day. It tells the story of Lucy Honeychurch who travels to the city with her companion. Whilst there her path crosses the lower class George Emerson and when she returns to England has to face the choice between societal expectations and her heart. This is a pretty fun summer read, despite it’s ‘classic’ tag, with Forster poking fun at everyone. I only wish we spent more time with the central couple, as I wasn’t really that connected to George-though Lucy was great.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker (2014, Maclehouse Press)
I knew pretty much nothing about this novel, my Mum bought it with her to Italy, and it’s received acclaim from across Europe and has been translated into numerous languages from its original French. It tells the story of Marcus Goldman, a promising novelist suffering from writer’s block whose mentor respected writer Harry Quebert is accused of murdering a 15-year-old girl 25 years earlier. This is twisty and turny and kept me plowing through despite it being fairly chunky. Whilst there are occasionally creepy Lolita-vibes, Dicker is excellent at playing with the reader’s preconceptions.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2014, Fourth Estate)
This is essentially a slightly extended version of Adichie’s TED talk which is famous for being sampled by Beyonce. It’s probably not a must buy, but Adichie is passionate about her beliefs.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (2013, Vintage)
We Need New Names is the story of Darling growing up in a shanty town in Zimbabwe against the backdrop of repressive government crackdowns; and her subsequent move to America. This took a while for me to get into, but once I really fell for the character of Darling it really got me hooked. I feel like despite the fact that everyone knows Mugabe is terrible we don’t hear a lot about what goes on there, so this was eye-opening. Whilst sometimes it felt that Bulawayo was trying to pack too much into the book, this was a good read to end the month on.

What have you been reading this month?

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