Each month I seem to start this review of the previous month’s reading with a remark about how I haven’t read much, or how the books I have read haven’t been especially great.
Looking back through this year’s reading record is a bit depressing, as I realise how little I’ve been reading, or enjoying reading, over the last two or three months. I start a book and it seems to take me ages to finish. I haven’t felt inspired by a book for a while.
I think part of that is down to work – my job is pretty mentally tiring and lately it’s left less and less space for other things, so reading has slipped. I hope to get that back to a good place eventually, but in the meantime, I guess these posts will remain fairly short and uninspired!
This month I finished three books, two of which were very short, and have struggled halfway through a third.
Raven Black by Ann Cleeves is the first in the Shetland crime series, and follows events on the Scottish islands after a teenage girl is found murdered. A little girl disappeared years earlier and the locals always suspected a reclusive old man, but no one could prove he was responsible. As the islanders prepare for the Up Helly Aa festival, suspicions rise and tragedy seems certain to repeat itself.
This was a fairly standard crime thriller, with a sympathetic lead detective and a well-drawn setting, which is probably the book’s biggest selling point. I’d love to visit the Shetland islands and Up Helly Aa is on my travel wish list, so it was interesting to get a behind the scenes perspective on the festival, even if it wasn’t the sales pitch you might expect!
I don’t think I’ll rush out and read the rest of this series, but maybe at some point in the future.
Next up was a book I was sent last year for review. A novella from a small publisher, The Man Who Remembered the Moon by David Hull is an intriguing study into perception and madness. When a young man notices the moon has disappeared from the sky, he is disturbed to find that other people treat him with suspicion, derision and fear. He is the only one who remembers the moon, and becomes determined to prove its existence to those around him, whatever the personal cost.
I read this novella fairly swiftly on the train to Manchester. It’s not so much a story as a reflection on the central idea of a man who believes himself to be the only one who knows the truth, as something bigger happens around him. But does he know the truth, or is the idea of the moon a delusion, as everyone else seems to think?
It would be interesting to see how I felt about this book if the author had chosen something other than the moon: which we all know exists. By choosing an object like that, the reader’s sympathy stays with the central character, but it might not have been the case had he used something more abstract.
But that’s the point of the story: the presence of the moon is an immutable fact, so what would happen if one day people suddenly began to deny its existence? Would that make those who still believed in it delusional, or are those who have forgotten it the ones with the delusion? A thought-provoking read.
Finally this month I read Brave Enough, a collection of quotes from Wild author Cheryl Strayed, taken from her own writing.
This was a fairly light read, but I was a little disappointed with it, purely because I didn’t connect with any of the advice offered. For the right person, this would be a lovely and inspiring book, as it’s well written with some insightful advice, but I didn’t find it as meaningful as favourite quotes I’ve come across in other places.
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- Raven Black (Shetland), by Ann Cleeves
- The Man Who Remembered The Moon (Kindle Single), by David Hull
- Brave Enough: A Mini Instruction Manual for the Soul, by Cheryl Strayed
Please note: I received a free copy of The Man Who Remembered the Moon in exchange for a review, but all opinions are my own.