It’s been a while since I wrote a recap of my recent reads.
In April, I only read one book so it seemed a bit pointless to dedicate a whole round-up post to it. Instead I decided to save it and write an April/May post, as May was probably my most exciting bookish month this year as I finished one fantastic book after another, plus an old favourite.
The Lonely City, by Olivia Laing
This year I’ve made an effort to read more widely, focusing on different genres and I’ve read several non-fiction books, which is unusual for me.
April’s book was The Lonely City, which follows author Olivia Laing’s time living alone in New York after a break up in her mid-thirties. Paralysed by an intense bout of loneliness, despite living in a city surrounded by millions of people, she took solace in art and wrote a book about the lives of New York artists also touched by loneliness and isolation.
I’d wanted to read this for a while after seeing some fantastic reviews. Laing’s book is interesting and also heart-breaking, particularly the chapters focusing on artist David Wojnarowicz and AIDS in the Eighties, and former janitor Henry Darger who died alone in an apartment packed with his tortured art and writing.
Streets of Darkness, by AA Dhand
For World Book Night, I went along to a Read Regional event at my local library with crime authors AA Dhand and Kathleen McKay.
Bradford author AA Dhand told a great story about how his love of crime fiction arose from watching 18 certificate horror films from his parents’ corner shop as a child.
In Streets of Darkness, D.I. Harry Virdee has one day to track down the former BNP member suspected of killing a prominent local man ahead of the city’s mela. With racial tensions growing, Harry is the perfect person to get things done off the grid thanks to a recent suspension from duty.
But as he investigates the murder, he uncovers something much more sinister and realises a race war is looming.
A best-selling crime thriller, this is currently under development as a television series. It’s a fast-paced, exciting read that introduces a detective with a unique back story as a Sikh man married to a Muslim woman who has been disowned by his family.
If you enjoy crime fiction, you should definitely read this.
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr is on the way home from a party with her friend Khalil when they’re pulled over by a cop who ends up shooting the boy dead.
As the only witness, Starr is caught up in the ensuing investigation and has to decide whether to speak out for her friend or protect her family from the neighbourhood gangs and the police.
This is a political story, but it’s also about finding your identity. Starr is caught between two worlds: that of friends at her predominantly white middle class school and her life in a dangerous neighbourhood on the other side of town. She has to learn how she fits in in both places, while staying true to herself.
I stayed up until 1am to finish this book; it’s a moving and incredibly thought-provoking read that connects to the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s one of my favourite books of the year so far.
The Power, by Naomi Alderman
May was a really strong month for reading. After finishing The Hate U Give, I picked up Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction winning novel The Power, which was even better.
It’s a simple premise: when women suddenly develop the power to channel electricity through their hands, the world is turned on its head as men become the weaker sex overnight.
What follows is a powerful tale that follows a number of characters as they traverse this new world and see what happens when women fight back against centuries of victimisation.
This is a shocking read in places, but it’s dramatic and succeeds in holding a mirror up to society and its treatment of women, making the reader look at it with fresh eyes.
The Gustav Sonata, by Rose Tremain
Gustav grows up a lonely child with his emotionally distant mother in a small town in Switzerland after the war. When he befriends Anton, the new boy at his school, who is from a wealthy Jewish family, it distresses his mother.
Slowly, the novel reveals the story behind Emilie’s dislike of Anton’s family and the truth about Gustav’s late father.
This is a poignant story about loneliness and that explores how destructive and painful unrequited passions can be. Gustav leads a quiet life, never quite getting the love he deserves from those around him. This story made me feel incredibly lucky to have the relationships that I do.
It’s a slow-burn, character driven story that makes for a sad but worthwhile read.
Dead Ever After, by Charlaine Harris
The final Sookie Stackhouse novel is one of my go-to books when I want a quick and engaging read.
It’s not the best book in the series but I actually really enjoy it, particularly Sookie’s budding relationship with Sam.
What have you been reading recently?
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