I’ve had possibly my best reading month ever, having finished off a whole 7 (7!) books this January. I know some people usually read that much but it’s quite a lot for me! As I’ll be posting reviews in the upcoming weeks – though probably not for all of these books – I thought it would be nice to do a quick summary of what I’ve read.
Below I’ve also included some thoughts from participating in the #Diverseathon this past week, though I didn’t get to read quite as much as I’d hoped!
Here are the books I read this month:
The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry
The Waterstones Book of the Year, and this week also longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize. I started this just after Christmas and absolutely loved it. Review coming shortly!
Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
I’ve definitely listed this on a Top Ten Tuesday post at some point – an essential read on mental health. A reread, and useful during bleak January.
Gather Together in My Name – Maya Angelou
The second of Maya Angelou’s autobiographies, I think I enjoyed this even more than I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. It tracks the author’s life for about 5 years in and around San Francisco, as a new mother, a worker and through a host of complicated relationships.
The Outrun – Amy Liptrot
I picked this up a while ago, when it got a lot of attention for winning a nature writing prize, and was featured as a Waterstones non-fiction book of the month. The author grew up on Orkney, lived a hazy and out of control lifestyle, leading to addiction, in London before returning to the islands. Both a complex personal story and a beautiful, descriptive portrayal of the sometimes harsh, sometimes peaceful, Orkney islands.
The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
I read this on my sister’s insistence 😉 After avoiding it due to the fact I’m a huge wimp and I thought it would be scary. Not usually a fan of crime/thriller but found this pretty entertaining. Will post my review soon 🙂
So Long, See You Tomorrow – William Maxwell
This book came to me through the wonderful Backlisted podcast – which you should definitely listen to. A very short but incredibly powerful novel. The narrator is haunted by a childhood friendship and a series of events which unfolded years ago in rural Illinois. Review for this also forthcoming!
The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
Having received a copy for Christmas, I was prompted to read this as it was chosen as the group read for #Diverseathon. The tale of a slave, Cora, running away from the plantation which she has never left, this book is pretty hard-hitting. Whitehead takes the figurative ‘Underground railroad’ and here makes it into a literal railway, operated by a series of station masters and helpers. Initially a bit reluctant about the concept, I actually thought it worked really well and meant the book could explore the different approaches and attitude to slavery in different states. Review coming soon…
Other thoughts on #Diverseathon:
I really enjoyed the group read The Underground Railroad, and it’s been nice being able to read other people’s reviews and get other takes on it. It was a busy week for me so have only just got round to starting my other planned read for the week, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. After participating in one of the Twitter chats, I loved seeing other people’s recommendations on specific diverse authors/themes.
Some books I now definitely plan to read, from others recommendations:
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
We Should All Be Feminists – Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie
Saree – Su Dharmapala
Behold The Dreamers – Imbolo Mbue
Orientalism – Edward Said
Silence – Shusaku Endo
Reading a wide range of authors, cultures, themes and own voices is something I’m really going to try and keep up this year.
Do you have any other recommendations for Diverse Reads? Of what you’ve read in January, did anything really stand out for you? Let me know in the comments 🙂
Here’s to another month of reading!