The Year in Books: November
Compared with the amount of books I've read over the last couple of months, I really haven't read much this month at all. Not entirely sure why. Although I am going through one of those phases where there is nothing to read. Of course, this is never true, I have a bookcase of books in the flat, a bookcase of Ben's books should ever his taste in books appeal to me, a well-stocked library in town and of course on my Kindle I could read any book I cared to download. I feel like this occasionally, I shall snap out of it soon and then I will have too many books I want to read! This is why I don't have a book for November, as there's nothing I particularly want to read at the moment, and I don't want to just choose something for the sake of needing to choose something.
My book for October was Getting Colder by Amanda Coe, which I thoroughly enjoyed - a review of it is here.
Last month I read The Roundabout Man by Clare Morrall, and enjoyed it. I'd not heard of the author before, but it turns out she is one of the favourite authors of my lovely friend Snowy Owl, who kindly sent me Astonishing Splashes of Colour to read.
When a friend tells me a book is their favourite, or by a favourite author, and I must read it, I sometimes feel a tad under pressure - what if I really don't like it? In fact, what if I hate it, and have no idea why my friend loves it? I feel bad sometimes when I tell someone to read something, and they don't like it at all: they've wasted their time (and perhaps money) yet at the same time I'm frustrated, why did they not like something so good?! But each to their own. (It doesn't help that my favourite book of all time is A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, one of the longest books ever published in English. According to Wikipedia it's 1488 pages long and contains 591,522 words. Unsurprisingly, I haven't convinced many people to read this book, although I read it in the days before e-readers, so maybe people would be more inclined now they would be able to actually hold the book without hurting their thumbs. Whilst I'm writing about this, I would also like to point out that I hate breaking the spines of books - when I was halfway through it I was pleased that the spine was still intact, as sometimes with books you can't help but break them. One night I was reading it at my then boyfriend's house and his mum asked if she could have a look at it. She read the blurb, then opened the book to see if she could read the tiny tiny writing without her glasses (she couldn't) and in doing so she snapped the spine. Not intentionally, I might add, just by the way she held it. I winced. I never said anything, but it still makes me shiver to this day, and I'm reminded of it every time I look at the book!)
Anyway, I am pleased to say that I did very much enjoy Astonishing Splashes of Colour. The story follows Kitty, as she tries to cope with losing her child a few years ago. Although as the plot unfolds, you realise she's not doing very well, much worse than people think she is. Her mental health is questioned, especially given the spontaneous and usually reckless decisions she makes. Her wider family has a few skeletons in various closets, and these gradually come out, which unsurprisingly is no help to Kitty at all. It's quite a descriptive book, one which gives tidbits of information to gradually build up the story line. There were some interesting ideas about sanity and mental health and people's attitudes towards them. I am so pleased I liked it, and this is a definite author I want to read again.
S.O.S by Joseph Connolly was great fun to read. Set on the ship Transylvania, the Southampton to New York crossing is filled with farcical adventures. I'm not usually a fan of anything too farcical, as I find it hard to believe (which I suppose is kind of the point) but this book stayed firmly believable, if a tad far-fetched. Each section is written almost as an internal monologue as the character goes about their business on the ship, and when the first character meets another character, it switches to the second person's internal monologue. This is easy to understand, as the characters all have very different ways of speaking, as well as different accents. It took me a while to get used to how one family in particular spoke, then I realised they were from America, and 'arsem' was 'awesome'. I've had a look on Goodreads and it hasn't got very many stars, which I think is a shame.
Gin Glorious Gin: How Mother's Ruin Became the Spirit of London* by Olivia Williams was brilliant. It's been a while since I've read a non-fiction book (I definitely needed a break after my PhD!) and this was a good book to get me back into non-fiction. I'm not a big drinker at all but a G&T is my drink of choice. I've never known much about gin as a drink, have always bought Gordon's gin, and never thought twice about the tonic water I add to it. Now I know so much more! It's a very well-written and well-researched book, balancing nicely between giving the reader information, but not overloading with facts. As with most non-fiction books I read a bit here and there, alongside other things. I think if you're not particularly interested in gin, or cultural history, this isn't the book for you, but otherwise, it's a very good read.
Well, it appears I read more than I thought. Although I'm still not sure what to read next. I may give reading a rest for a few days, and then see if I have any inspiration!
Linking up with Laura.
*Thank you to NetGalley who gave me a free copy of this book, in exchange for a review. All words, thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own.