This page will be brought absolutely, totally up-to-date some time very soon. [‘dreckly‘]
Meanwhile, click here for a list of the children’s books I read.
TBR / reading:
A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara.
THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt.
THE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL by Anne Brontë. Came recommended; looking forward to a good but possibly sad read. since it was part of a conversation, downloaded to Kindle.
SUGAR AND SNAILS by Anne Goodwin. A self-obsessed, prejudiced, self-harming MC spends three decades addressing her sexual issues without having one meaningful, healthy sexual relationship, or allowing her BFF to know her intimately enough to understand. Cue a journey through flashbacks to explain the misery.
BARE REALITY: 100 WOMEN, THEIR BREASTS, THEIR STORIES by Laura Dodsworth. A hundred women bare their breasts and provide commentary on how they feel about them, with family and medical background, and views on breastfeeding. A valuable insight into what real breasts look like on real women, rather than air-brushed images on screens and billboards. The book covers young and old women from a diverse range of backgrounds, some mothers / some not, some breastfeeding, and some post-surgical after lumpectomy, mastectomy, breast reduction, gender reassignment, or implant surgery. This is a desperately-needed bite of reality in an age of media lies; a vital piece of work that everyone in the west should read. (Works well on Kindle.)
MARRIAGE MATERIAL by Sathnam Sanghera. A family run a corner shop in Wolverhampton, spanning 2-3 generations. Lovely insight into family life; interesting to note the differences in expectations across the generations, elder folks working, the younger ones leaving and coming back. Enjoyed.
THE GREEN ROAD by Anne Enright. Ah, misery and fighting, emigration, an alcoholic housewife, a gay bloke having dangerous sex, mental illness, crisis, a homecoming, all the sibs having to rub along together. This would be an Irish family saga, then. Friends loved it, I felt I’d read it before. Good enough, but didn’t break anything.
A PORTABLE SHELTER by Kirsty Logan. Short story collection: fairy tales, meta-fiction and “life lessons to teach an unborn child”. It’s rare that I’m blown away by writing about motherhood but this one was spot on.
BIRD BRAIN by Guy Kennaway. A landowner who shoots pheasants dies and is reincarnated as a pheasant to solve his own murder. Given the animal POVs, poo and pee jokes and gentrified slaughter, I expected to loathe this book, but in fact the MC was vile enough to enjoy.
GET IN THE SEA (AN APOPLECTIC GUIDE TO MODERN LIFE) by Andy Dawson. A list of things that the author feels should be hurled into the sea. (More swearing than is legal.)
SPECTACLES by Sue Perkins. Uh! Seventies haircuts, friends with pink DMs, cold beaches, fudge, falling in love, stinky dogs, flatulence, big American trucks, Sennen beach in winter, Cornwall in general, bad overseas toilet moments. Kind of what I expected. Nostalgia.
THE CHILDREN ACT by Ian McEwan. Over-privileged and risk-averse judge Fiona presides over various cases (child custody, conjoined twins, right to die). A teenage Jehovah’s Witness, intense and conflicted, refuses treatment on the brink of death against the wishes of his medical advisors, while Fiona ponders her own choice not to have children and the conflict in her marriage. Hard to empathise with self-centred MC and, bogged down with multiple cases and musical interludes, lacked immediacy.
A SONG FOR ISSY BRADLEY by Carys Bray. A dead child’s Mormon family come to terms with their loss. Was expecting to be ugly-crying over death, but it didn’t take me there. Instead it was more of a coming of age story for the dead child’s siblings, and a story about how we so often fail to acknowledge, address or manage grief and depression. Not what I expected.
GRIMM’S FAIRY TALES by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm — specifically The Goose Girl. This story took me apart as a child, and still does. Free on Kindle.
HOW IT WORKS’ THE HUSBAND (‘HOW IT WORKS’ THE WIFE) by JA Hazeley and JP Morris (Ladybird books for grown-ups). Little gimmick books! Look-how-far-we’ve-come-since-the-sexist-seventies with an undercurrent of long-term marriage spite. If you grew up on Ladybird books, these will whisk you back to your happiest memories. File cat: guilty pleasures.
LANDMARKS — NFFD anthology, 2015. I had to (proof) read this one because I have a story in it. I can’t really review it — but Nik Perring’s story stood out for me.
MOMO by Michael Ende (for children). Read this with my child; a time-slowingly good book that took me back to childhood. Momo is a homeless girl whose love of her friends, and willingness to listen and experience, challenge the modern day (1970s) time thieves. Mindfulness, before it was a thing.
MORTIFICATION: WRITERS’ STORIES OF THEIR PUBLIC SHAME, edited by Robin Robertson. Schadenfreude lit-snacks. Funny in parts.
THE GRACEKEEPERS (& at Waterstones) by Kirsty Logan. Dystopian future on a flooded earth. North, the bear girl on a circus boat, meets Callanish, the gracekeeper, in her watery graveyard. Think folk/selkies.
WRITING SHORT STORIES: A WRITERS’ AND ARTISTS’ COMPANION by Courttia Newland and Tania Hershman — useful and liberating with lots of further reading refs. Five stars, my partial review here.
(I’m fairly sure I read more than four books in a year. These must have been the highlights…)
BIG BROTHER by Lionel Shriver. Wife and step-mum Pandora is helping her morbidly obese brother lose weight, to the detriment of her marriage. Shriver’s usual style; introspective, analytical, observational, patronising, dark, and funny. Marmite ending.
DUBLINERS by James Joyce. This has a few layers.
THE RENTAL HEART AND OTHER FAIRYTALES by Kirsty Logan. Fresh, original collection of short stories. “Magical realism” — fairytales, grounded in the unrelenting reality of human relationships. Full of integrity. Look out for The Gracekeeper.