Back in January, I posted my first read, watch, listen post, focusing mainly on what I’d read that month. My intention was to read a lot and write one of these posts every month because I love reading them on others’ blogs such as Beth Sandland, Daisybutter and Jess’ Unexpected Adventures. However, life’s been a bit mad since then, hasn’t it? So while my reading habits have certainly continued, my posting habits have not. Here are some mini book reviews of what I’ve read lately. Grab a hot choc, it’s going to be a big one.
The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne
A friend told me that this was the second best book she’d ever read (after A Little Life, which is on my list). I wasn’t disappointed. It begins in 1940s Ireland and follows Cyril Avery’s life as he navigates growing upon a society that won’t accept him for who he is: gay. It’s beautifully written, with great characterisation. Boyne really brings to life these ordinary people, living ordinary lives, and that is why it’s such an emotive read: it will make you laugh and bring you close to tears, and for me, that’s what the best books do. I learnt a lot about Ireland’s history from this read, and would encourage everyone to read it.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying – Marie Kondo
So I’ve come to Marie a couple of years behind everyone else, and I think a lot of what she writes is a bit ‘woo’. However, a lot of it made sense to me and, given #lockdownlyf is upon us, I’ve taken it upon myself to get discarding and folding to my hearts content (but I’m not thanking every t-shirt and apologising to my socks for the pain I put them through… yet). I’m not going all out with the Kon-mari method, but I needed a kick up the bum to get myself into a bit more of a clutter-free space and am feeling good for what I’ve achieved so far. It’s only been a week, so that achievement is limited, but it’s a start.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k – Mark Manson
I was hoping this would change my life (lol) but I’m pretty sure it didn’t. I found some of the key takeaways interesting and maybe if I put the effort into applying them, I’d feel free from my emotional baggage, but I just wasn’t compelled to act following reading this book. I know a lot of people have found it useful, so I’m not saying don’t read it, and maybe re-reading it might make me focus on Manson’s key points a bit more. However, I’ve read other ’self-help’ books which have immediately sparked me into doing something and this just didn’t.
French Exit – Patrick DeWitt
I’d never heard of Patrick DeWitt before reading this, but I found French Exit made me laugh more than most books I read. The characters are fantastically over the top and the book is rather ridiculous in many ways. Follow widowed Frances Price and her grown up son Malcom, two people used to a life of luxury who are nearing bankruptcy, as they leave the Upper East Side and head to Paris with their cat, Small Frank, who isn’t quite as he seems. The family is dysfunctional at the least, and I found them both ludicrous and charming in equal measures. It’s not all laughs though, as you’ll find out, but I found it an enjoyable read on the whole.
Adults – Emma Jane Unsworth
I wanted to love this book. I was looking forward to reading what I thought would be an amusing take on life, one that I could relate to, that would be uplifting as well as introspective. Something like Daisy Buchanan’s How To Be a Grown Up. It wasn’t. I did enjoy it, but not as much as I’d hoped. I didn’t gel with Jenny, the 35 year old main character who’s too focused on her instagram captions to notice her life is falling apart, and that meant I found the book lacking in many ways. It delves into friendships, romantic relationships and the mother-daughter bond and some people might love it, but unfortunately it wasn’t for me.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold – Toshikazu Kawaguchi
My first ever book by a Japanese writer, this was an interesting read. Join Kazu. Kei and Nagare in their small, basement cafe in an alley in Tokyo. It’s nothing special, except for the fact you can travel in time. The catches? You can only visit the cafe, you cannot change the present day, and you must return before your coffee gets cold. The book is split into five parts, each concerning a different character’s journey through time and their reasons why. I love the idea behind this, but found it a little repetitive after the first few parts.
My Sister, The Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
I feel like everyone has read this book, so perhaps there’s little point sharing it here. I will anyway. This is an easy read given the subject matter is so dark, which is tribute to Braithwaite’s writing and, ultimately, the fact that this book isn’t about killing. Really, it’s about sisterhood and doing things for those you love regardless of whether you resent the task and even, for a short time, the person too.
We Are The Weather – Jonathan Safran Foer
For anyone interested in the climate crisis, and to be honest, anyone who isn’t, please read this book. At a minimum, please read part 2. It won’t take you long but it will leave you thinking. I’ll be sharing a full review of this book soon, because I have a lot to say about it!
What did you think of these books? What have you been reading recently? Let me know in the comments below!