Monday 6 July 2020

What I've been Reading Through June

I feel as though my reading posts signals the end of a new month for me as I get to collect what I've read and share them with you before diving in again. You all know I've quite enjoyed lockdown for a number of reasons and being able to just spend my time reading has definitely been towards the top of the list - there's just nothing quite like switching off for a few hours with a new book. 

I've even started reading multiple books at a time which I've never done - I keep a paperback with me during the day and then read from my kindle in bed so I've been whizzing through them a lot quicker in recent months. Reading has definitely helped me keep my sanity recently and I've enjoyed most of that I've read this month. 

I've picked out six titles from the eleven I read to share with you, if you want to see what else I've been reading I have a highlight on my Instagram - alicespake.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The novel by Colson Whitehead is based on the trials and punishments of African slaves in America. It's a horrifyingly difficult book to read, it took me a lot longer than usual as I felt I had to digest and understand each chapter before moving to the next. We need these powerful, compelling and gut-wrenching reminders of what life was like on a plantation in Georgia and other places in the South and what it might have been like to be a runaway and this particular story is told from the perspective of a young slave woman called Cora and follows her escape and journey to freedom. It's incredibly well-written and although this particular book is fictional it conveys the history and horror really well. If you're looking to diversify your reading list, this is a great one to add

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
This is a beautifully written book that I haven't stopped thinking about, it tells the story of Nuri a beekeeper and his wife Afra, an artist - they live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo until the unthinkable happens and all they care for is destroyed by war. It follows their escape and terrifying journey to the United Kingdom. It is a fictional story but it is inspired by stories of refuges the author came into contact with through humanitarian work. 

I couldn't put this down, it completely absorbed me albeit eye-opening and heartbreaking. Each chapter is split into two parts, the past and the present, both linked by one word which threw me at first but looking back I find it quite a touching way to link the two worlds. I really loved this, it kinda feels wrong to say that due to the nature of the story but I just found it so emotional and thought-provoking. It's one that will stay with me for some time.

All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle (press sample)
I don't think I've shared one of these posts this year without a Mike Gayle novel being featured, I am well and truly hooked! All The Lonely People is my latest read - this is released later on this month so I was so pleased to be able to read it ahead of release. 

It tells the story of Hubert Bird who arrived in the UK as part of the Windrush Generation in 1958 - only now he's in his 80s and quite alone until a knock on the door from a new neighbour changes everything. The chapters alternate between present day and his life from when he buys that one-way ticket - it's quite a topical read right now as it highlights the racism many experienced on arrival in the UK as well as the treatment Black people faced when falling in love with a white woman. I could not put this down and I really didn't want it to end. I laughed, I sobbed and I adored Hubert - this is absolutely one to add to your TBR pile when it's released in July.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years - it's enlightening, raw and a must-read! I loved it by the time I turned the final page but it took me a few goes to get started with this as there's no punctuation and I found it really difficult at first but by page 84 I didn't notice it as much and really began to enjoy it. 

It feels original and contemporary while delivering great characters and good storytelling. 

Messy, Wonderful Us by Catherine Issac
I need something beautifully uplifting after finishing My Dark Vanessa and this was perfect! Messy, Wonderful Us is an enthralling and emotional story of human loss, love, friendship and the mystery that binds them all together as we follow Allie on a journey of discovery. In late 1983, a letter arrives from Italy, containing secrets so unthinkable that it is hidden away, apparently forever. More than three decades later, it is found by Allie and it changes everything she thinks she knows. I found Allie a really likeable character along with her best friend Ed who plays an important part in the story. 

From start to finish the story intrigued me and had me completely hooked. There is a thread of mystery and many twists and turns in the plot that hit you unexpectedly. There’s also no shortage of relationship drama to entertain and keep you wondering - it's the perfect pick me up and I truly loved it. 

What have you been reading this month?

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