Wednesday, 5 October 2016

What I've been reading: August-September

I know, I know, August is technically part of summer, but I thought five books was enough for one post, ok?

1. Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible.

This one was on the BBC's 100 Books list, which I have been working through ever since it came out in 2003. I'd like to think I might finish said list one day, but that would involve me reading a book about football, and we all know that's not going to happen.

In brief, a missionary preacher takes his wife and four daughters to the Congo in the early 1960s. Things go wrong. Things go very wrong. The daughters somehow manage to patch their lives back together, but in very, very different ways.

Preamble preambled, this was a Very Good Book. It took me quite a long time to read (it's a big book, I get distracted by shiny new books very easily) but it was definitely worth it. I'm actually glad I took it slowly so I could digest it better. If you haven't read it, I suggest you do.

2. Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart.

We rented a house for a week in Scotland. This book was in the house, and, as it was mentioned several times as a source/inspiration in the introduction to The Poisonwood Bible, which I'd just finished, I read it. Probably too quickly to do it justice, in all honesty. I'm not sure I'd have chosen to read it on its own, but it's a good companion to TPB.

3.  Julia Strachey, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding.

Short but sweet. Strachey was on the fringes of the Bloomsbury Set, and the book was first published by the Hogarth Press (i.e. Virginia and Leonard Woolf). It's far more approachable than Woolf, though - she doesn't go too far along the stream-of-consciousness pathway. I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to find other books by the same author, but mostly because there are so many other books I want to read and I will never have time for ALL THE BOOKS.

4. Suki Kim, Without You, There Is No Us. 

One journalist's experience of teaching English in an elite school in North Korea (I'm trying to correct my woeful ignorance of parts of the world outside of Europe and the US at the moment - can you tell?). Fascinating. Also sort-of scary.

5. Natalia Sanmartìn Fenollera, The Awakening of Miss Prim. 

Another Fountains of Carrots recommendation. DEFINITELY my favourite source of book suggestions at the moment (followed by my mother. Sorry, Mam). I'm not going to spoil anything, so just go and read it, ok? 

I'm quite tempted to buy copies of this for several people, but then I'd be very upset if they didn't like it. Ho hum. Also, I rather like distributism (just don't tell the Labour Party, they might evict me). Anyone up for creating a distributist community in Normandy with me? Anyone? [crickets]
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