Sunday 2 August 2020

What I've Been Reading Through July

We're another month down - how did that happen? I honestly cannot believe we're going into August and we're just a hop, skip and a jump away from Autumn! With lockdown up in the air, we're very much sticking with lockdown rules only venturing out when necessary or the odd trip into the city centre to test the ground a bit but that has meant I have been speeding through my TBR pile. 

I'm just two books off my 2020 target which was 75, the number I read last year - I'm so pleased because I've read some brilliant books so far this year. 

I've picked out six from the fourteen that I've read this month to include in this post - one, in particular, is The Book of Echoes which I really urge you to read, it's so touching and I haven't stopped thinking about it. 

The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla & Others
The Good Immigrant brings together twenty-one exciting Black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, exploring why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be an ‘other’ in a country that doesn't seem to want you, doesn't accept you but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms. I found the book shocking and somewhat funny in parts, the way each story was told was brilliant and it's absolutely essential reading, a real eye-opening account of living in modern Britain. I'm so glad I read it and I've since gone through and found each author on social media too. The Shades chapter really stuck out for me and I couldn't put it down. I've also ordered The Good Immigrant USA so that's next on my list.

The Book of Echoes by Rosanna Amaka
If there's one book you need to add to your reading list immediately, it's The Book of Echoes by Rosanna Amaka. I finished it two weeks ago and it's stayed with me, it's devastating yet searingly beautiful and at times I felt I was right there with the characters. The story begins in 1803 and is heartbreakingly told by the soul of a kidnapped African slave that walks West India Docks in London looking for her lost child. This, in turn, entwines into life almost 200 years later as we meet Michael in London and Ngozi in Nigeria. It's rich in detail, bringing to life the horror of the slave trade, racism, discrimination, oppression and injustice throughout the decades to the present day. For a debut novel, I was blown away, the passion seeps through each chapter and I had tears in my eyes as I turned the last page. It's going to stay with me for some time.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Where the Crawdads Sing is one of those books that seems to be everywhere at the moment, I bought it in January but have put off reading it until now as I just wasn't sure I'd enjoy it. My impression was that it was quite airy, fairy - not my usual type at all but I was so wrong, I fell in love. The story takes you to 1960s North Carolina and follows Kya also known as the Marsh Girl as she grows from feral child to a fierce young woman. The descriptions from the marsh to the fireflies are so well written you almost feel as though you're there with Kya and the touches of poetry throughout are a beautiful touch. It's thoughtful, emotive and absolutely deserves all the praise bestowed upon it. I haven't stopped thinking about it since I turned the last page.

The Dog Who Dared to Dream by Sun-Mi Hwang
This is more a fable than a book so it's short and wonderful, I really love Sun-Mi Hwang writing. This is the story of a dog named Scraggly. Born an outsider because of her distinctive appearance, she spends most of her days in the sun-filled yard of her owner's house. Scraggly has dreams and aspirations just like the rest of us - I find you can really relate to the story and character despite them being animal-based. It's unexpectedly moving and insightful, and I just adored the sensitivity of the various relationships that were described. The Hen that Dreamed She Could Fly is also a brilliant book by the same author and really awakened me from an awful rut I was in last year. 

They're some of my favourite books that I will never get rid of.

The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff (gifted)
My latest read-a-long with Tandem Collective was The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff, a coming of age novel that didn't quite hit the mark for me. Maybe it was because it's YA or because the characters were so undeveloped - I'm not sure but I just didn't enjoy it, I only finished it because it was so short! It was a bit bizarre, to be honest, it's set in modern times but it comes across as though it's summer in the 1960s so it made a few things seem really out of place and there's just no mood, any romance felt unbelievable and eurgh the characters - unlikeable & privileged. I can totally appreciate Rosoff's writing but the book just wasn't for me. It was just so blah, a total dud.

The Prison Doctor Women Inside by Dr.Amanda Brown
Having read The Prison Doctor and really enjoyed it, I had to pick up the latest version when I spied it when food shopping and I'm so glad I did - it's just as brilliant. This version focuses on Dr Amanda Brown's time in a women's prison and it was devastatingly insightful. I feel as though we don't hear as much about women's prisons and this totally blew me away. It was eye-opening reading some of the success stories of women who have left prison and rehabilitated their life, and also how and why these women end up in prison in the first place. The story of a young Romanian girl really broke my heart but hearing how she was rehabilitating was warming. It's a fascinatingly brilliant read!

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