Month in Books: April 2017

Here’s a little round-up of what I read in April! As always, I’ll link you up with the Goodreads page for each book.

Job – Joseph Roth – 4 stars  This is about a twentieth century Russian family of Jews, and their struggles and eventual emigration to the USA. There’s a lot of really interesting interplay with the Biblical book of Job, and overall I really enjoyed this!

The Red Tree – Shaun Tan – 5 stars Shaun Tan is an Australian artist who I think is quite big right now! This was my first introduction to his work, and it blew my mind. This was easily one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen.

The World’s Wife – Carol Ann Duffy – 4 stars This is a collection of poems by our Poet Laureate here in the UK. Each poem is from the perspective of a woman from a famous story whose voice we don’t usually get to hear. Some are funny, some sexy, some sad, but they’re all incisively clever, and force the reader to re-think some of the stories we’re all familiar with.

Intentional – Paul Williams – 4 stars This is a tiny little Christian book that encourages people to be brave enough to talk about faith. It’s not a guilt trip, but a call to authenticity.

A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett – 4 stars I’ve never really been a Pratchett fan, but when my friend told me this was her all time favourite book, I decided I should give it a try. And I loved it. This is almost on the same level as Howl’s Moving Castle ( but not quite). I loved that the humorous surrealism didn’t come at the expense of warmth and character depth.

Black Coffee – Charles Osborne – 3 stars If you were to look at the cover of this book, you’d think it was by Agatha Christie – and it does pretend to be. It’s actually a novelisation of one of Christie’s plays, and although it took me a few pages to realise that, it kind of lacks the nuance that the other mystery novels in the series have. The structure and dialogue are hers, and the rendering of Hercule Poirot as a pompous and frustrating caricature is Osborne’s. Mixed feelings about this!

Medieval Ghost Stories: An Anthology of Miracles, Marvels and Prodigies – Andrew Joynes – 3 stars This does what it says on the tin: it’s a collection of Medieval ghost stories. It was really interesting to see the kind of stories people were telling before Gothic influence, but part of me wished the book was a little shorter. There are a lot of stories here, and not all of them are that interesting.

The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh – 5 stars And finally, I re-read The Wrath and the Dawn. I thought it might be one of those times where it’s better in your memory, but this book is still pretty good! Here’s the review I wrote for it the first time I read it.

That’s all I got through in April – how many of these have you read? What was your favourite read of April?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

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Why I read YA

Recently, I was having a chat with some friends from university, and – inevitably, as I am a literature student – the topic of books came up. They asked me what I was reading, and the dialogue went a little like this:

Me: Oh, it’s called ‘The Heart Goes Last’ – it’s a Dystopian.

Friend: *scrunches up face, unimpressed* Dystopian?

Me: I mean…it’s not YA. It’s a Margaret Atwood book.

Friend: Oh, I see. That’s alright then.

Just to clarify, I’m not at all cross about this; it just made me think. Because although I wasn’t reading a Young Adult book at the time, I do read YA – and I read it in copious amounts.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are some very repetitive genre tropes – especially in the Dystopian branch – and yes, sometimes there are aspects in the books that can be a little…well, juvenile. But if you ask me, YA has a lot going for it.

For starters, Young Adult books are making reading cool. People everywhere are going crazy for books like The Hunger Games and Divergent – and so what if they’re a little overrated? People are reading, and I think that’s awesome. Books are powerful, and if it takes a hype-fuelled craze to get people hooked, then so be it. I think reading is so important for every generation, and YA is acting as ‘gateway literature’ for thousands of young people. That’s not why I read it, though.

Another great thing about YA is that it doesn’t tend to take itself too seriously. Novels under this literary umbrella thrive in the fantastical, science-fiction realms, and they aren’t afraid to hurl their readers right into the depths of human imagination. These books are unashamedly adventuring and they are doing it fabulously. (It probably helps that I personally have very little time for scientific explanations – this may not be a good thing for other people.)  Look at Cinder for example: futuristic, sci fi fairy-tale retellings? I am all over that. So yes, I love the sheer creativity and freedom of imagination in YA novels.But again, that’s not my reason for reading them.

There are a lot of other good things about YA novels. They’re accessibly written – none of this elitist literature today, thank you very much.

Does he really think big emotions come from big words?

(Sneaky Hemingway quote.)

But seriously, books are for everyone.

I also love that YA books can be really thoughtful: Dystopians especially get people who might not usually take an interest in politics (okay, me. I’m talking about me) to think more critically about government, and what a healthy political system actually looks like.

Lastly, YA books are inspiring. I’m not talking about great literary achievements or anything like that – although I don’t rule that out. What I mean is, YA literature features over and over again young people stepping out to make a difference, taking action and being important. It highlights youth as game-changers, decision-makers and world-shapers, and I think that’s so so important! It kicks apathy’s butt and shows our young people examples of people they can relate to who are growing in independence and strength, and while they are fallible and don’t always make the right choices, they are absolutely never useless. I think that’s a pretty important message to get out there.

Having said that, that’s not the reason I read YA.

Can I be real with you? When I pick up a Young Adult book, I find it really easy to jump right into the stories. They’re not too fussy or wordy or self-impressed, and they’re fun. I read YA because I like it, and you know what? I don’t really feel like I need to justify that.

 

Thanks for reading and have a lovely day!

~Dani

2014 Reading Wrap-up

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone! I’m so excited about this post: my first ever YEAR-long reading wrap up!

For 2014, I set myself the challenge of reading 100 books, and (drumroll, please) I got through 117! (Hurray, party poppers…and moving swiftly on.)

According to Goodreads, that’s 31,645 pages!

I’ve worked out a few more little chart-y things about this year’s reading, too:

Authors

Gender Pie 2014

Nationality Pie 2014

Genres

Genre Pie 2014

Next year, my plan is to read a little more variety – looking back over my reading list, there’s a huge amount written by American men. I need more angles!

How many books did you get through this year? Do you have any reading resolutions for next year?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani