Making more time to read is always on my to do list, along with drinking more water and paying off my overdraft. I've actually been sticking to this resolution by reverting back to my younger self. As a child, I had a book glued to my hand wherever I went. I had breakfast with Harry Potter resting against the fruit bowl. I took Northern Lights on the school bus. Catcher in the Rye was in my bag at family barbecues. The time I usually spend on my phone at lunch is now used to get through a few more chapters. Here's what I've been reading lately:
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
If you read my "Almost bisexual" blog post last year, you'll remember that my sexuality is something I'm still dealing with. Oranges are not the only fruit is about a girl raised in a strictly Christian home. When she realises she's gay, she has to navigate her own religious beliefs as well as those of her parents and the church, and figure out how they can all co-exist.
I wish I'd read this as a teenager. I imagine it's one of those books that grows with you, taking on deeper meanings and complexities as you age. I might have been able to muddle through my own sexuality, but shoulda woulda coulda. There is a fantasy aspect to this book, which I'll definitely be reading up on. Well worth a read.
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
This was in the "recommended" section of my Amazon account during a time I was barely touching any fiction. I'd been reading mainly political books and had just finished one on the Armenian Genocide so decided to stretch my imagination again with Hot Milk.
The narrator Sofia is in Spain with her mother, who suffers from all kinds of health problems that UK doctors have been unable to explain. Sofia suspects her mother is a hypochondriac but feels duty bound to stay with her. While in Spain, she works through her daddy and mummy issues, strikes up sexual relationships with men and women, and starts to strip away all the dead weight in her life. The style of writing was so strange but I really loved it and I'll read this again.
Eileen by Otessa Moshfegh
Another fiction novel bought on a whim, and so glad I did! Eileen is an anti hero, a young woman you'd probably loathe in real life but written from her perspective, the book is humorous and takes such a dark turn towards the end.
Eileen works in a young offenders' institute. Her mum's dead, her dad's an alcoholic, her sister's run off and she's a virgin obsessed with a guy at work. Then a new girl starts in the office and everything changes. Dum dum DUUUUM.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ok, I will admit I just bought this without reading any descriptions of it and it's not really a book...more of a pamphlet! It's an edited transcript of Adichie's famous Ted talk so while it isn't what I was expecting, it was a great wee read for me one night in the bath and a handy book if you know someone who's learning about feminism.
Adichie came under fire on social media recently for her comments about Trans women, which you can see here. I always feel mixed about feminists getting a lot of stick when they say the wrong thing; we're all human with certain conditioning and problematic views and to be expected to be ideologically perfect is too much. The main thing is learning from your mistake, so I will continue to be a fan of hers.
And the book I gave up on...
The Night Manager by John le Carre
I went to Glasgow last month and, for some reason, completely forgot to take a book with me. There were limited options in the tiny WH Smith at Inverness train station so I decided to get The Night Manager, which is a spy novel. You may have seen the BBC adaptation with Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston.
It felt like it was taking forever to read. I'd think I'd made good progress when I'd actually only read a few pages. When I got to the halfway mark, I didn't think I could bear to slog through the rest, so I didn't. I just didn't give a toss about the vacuous characters, or what happened to them. I realised I'd be just as happy reading the book's Wikipedia page for the ending as I would be actually reading the book itself. Life's too short to read books you don't love, so I decided I'd stop there and move on to something else.