Review | July Wrap Up

Read a lot on feminism and death this month. Nothing quite like some light, easy ‘beach reads’, hey?

Side note: I think I may need to do my August wrap-up in two parts because I seem to be powering through my reading pile at the moment. Also, is anyone else terrified that we’re already into the eighth month of 2017?

Look At Me | Jennifer Egan

514 pages | Constable and Robinson | 2.75 stars

9781780330990

One sentence summary: After a car accident, model Charlotte Swenson has to undergo facial surgery which results in an entirely new identity for her.

I got a hybrid of Glamorama/The Circle vibes from this one. The idea of image being everything as well as being constantly monitored… These are all topics I’ve been absorbed in when I’ve been reading before. However,Egan didn’t do anything particularly new with it. It was a great commentary, but one I’ve heard before. An entertaining, engaging reading experience though. I definitely want to pick up more of her work – A Visit from the Goon Squad maybe?

41cD6wyaxLL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

Being Mortal | Atul Gawande

304 pages | Wellcome Books | 4 stars

One sentence summary: A surgeon wonders about how we die, the limitations of medicines, and also its failures.

Following on from When Breath Becomes Air, I was delighted to find this for £2.49 in a charity shop after almost buying it full price in Waterstones about a day before. I have become really intrigued in the medical and philosophical intersections when it comes to what gives life – and death – meaning. Atul Gawande did not disappoint and I have underlined so many quotes, particularly in the sections about how deplorably we treat the elderly. The minor criticism I have is that although he was making very good points, he mentioned them at the end of every chapter without much development, so it began to feel repetitive. I wrote a (somewhat depressing) post recently that was pretty much based upon what I got from this book.

We Need To Talk About Kevin | Lionel SchriverWe-Need-to-Talk-About-Kevin1

468 pages | Serpent’s Tail | 3 stars

One sentence summary: A woman recounts how her son went on a shooting spree at the age of fifteen.

It’s been criticised for being over-written and yeah, I can see that. Everything is analysed in minute detail, which slows the pace right down. I liked this though; I thought it was disconcerting for Eva to be considering the smallest, most inconsequential things with the same intensity as the horrific acts of the shooting.

51oUoRV4baL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_No Matter The Wreckage | Sarah Kay 

133 pages | Write Bloody Publishing | 4 stars, maybe 4.5

One sentence summary: A poetry collection about family, love, travel and everything in between.

I love watching videos of Sarah Kay performing her poems. She has a way of making words that are already beautiful on the page, even more magical. I don’t care if I’m gushing, I’m an unapologetic fangirl. Her language is gorgeous but not overdone or suffocating. A lot of poets seem to love the enter/tab key, but her structure felt like it had purpose. Read them aloud. Poems are meant to live outside of their ink.

Us | David Nicholls 41q3EXhejkL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_

396 pages | Hodder | 3.5 stars

One sentence summary: A man tries to put his family back together by organising one last travel adventure.

You know when you enjoy the actual process of reading a book? It’s not because it’s well-crafted or poignant or your eyes are opened to another world, but just enjoying each page in that moment? This book did exactly that for me. David Nicholls writes with clarity and constructs such realistic plot, dialogue and narrative that this was just a pleasure to sit down with and get absorbed by. It also helps that he was looking at how the idea of travel being hugely redemptive and life-changing is pretty inaccurate, because it’s similar to something I’m currently working on. Which means this definitely counts as research, right?

41g5DNEjxrL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_The Gender Games: The Problem with Men and Women, from Someone Who Has Been Both | Juno Dawson 

368 pages | Two Roads | ? stars

One sentence summary: Based on Juno’s experiences in society’s ideas of man and woman, this looks at gender and how that negatively affects everyone.

I feel like I should have fallen head over heels for this book but there was something missing. It was really interesting to hear firsthand what it is really like, mentally and physically, to have transitioned from male to female. Maybe it was the fact that Juno writes like she’s chatting to you at a bar rather than writing a study of gender. Although it makes it accessible, it’s just a narrative style that personally doesn’t work for me. Regardless of that, it has made me reconsider the way I talk about people, particularly with pronoun use and stereotyping roles.

Bad Feminist: Essays | Roxane Gay Z_feminist

320 pages | Corsair | 4 stars

One sentence summary: Essays on race and gender in all spheres of life – politics, film, literature, social media…

Another book about gender, I know. This one felt more up my street in terms of narrative voice and I have underlined so much from each essay. Roxane Gay is articulate in her arguments and examines intersectionality better than any other writer I’ve encountered so far. Of course I don’t agree with everything she says but that’s kind of the point: we’re all bad feminists, but as long as we’re trying our best, then that’s okay.

Currently reading: 

Exit West | Mohsin Hamid
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat | Oliver Sacks

What was your favourite book you read in July?

Best wishes,

Siobhán


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