May Reads 2014

americanahAmericanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (Novel)

I really loved this book. There’s a lot to think about – it’s primarily about race in America and Nigeria, and the different ways race is perceived and reacted to in those countries. I really like how she talks about the overt but also the more subtle things you might not think about, such as hair. I have thick, half-curly, half-frizzy hair, and I have yet to find a hairdresser who can do anything nice with it. I’ve sometimes wondered what it’s like if your natural hair is more than just difficult – if it is culturally ‘unacceptable’ and, not only that, but if you live in a predominantly white neighbourhood there probably isn’t a hairdresser who will know how to make it ‘acceptable’. All those basic things that are easy to be unaware of as a white person are really brought to the fore in this book.

The end section of the book was weaker for me, and I think it could have done with editing in places throughout. But it’s still really good. Definitely give this book a go.

9781907773754frcvr.inddThe Rental Heart by Kirsty Logan (Short stories)

Absolutely beautiful short story collection (which last week won best collection at the Saboteur Awards). A real range of stories from steampunk to lyrical realism. Full review here.

the day of the triffidsThe Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (Novel)

I really enjoyed this. It’s more about coping with a post-apocalyptic world than Triffids per se, and it’s very different from the film versions. The first couple of chapters were good, but not great, only because the ‘waking up in hospital and the outside world has gone nuts’ thing is a cliché now (though it wasn’t when it was written). But I really got into it after that. I’m looking forward to reading more of his stuff.

the alchemists neil irwinThe Alchemists: Inside the Secret World of Central Bankers by Neil Irwin (Non-fiction)

A look at central banking – how they got their power and how and why they use it. Only recommended if you have an interest in this sort of thing. Full review here.

The-Year-of-Reading-DangerouslyThe Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller (Non-fiction)

A very enjoyable, sort-of-memoir in books. It’s about reading what you want to read, challenging yourself, and the pay-off. Full review here.

A-Girl-is-a-Half-Formed-ThingA Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride (Novel)

I thought this was great. Because of the unusual, fragmented writing style, it’s the kind of book you need to give the time to, but it’s worth it. Full review here.

black lakeBlack Lake by Johanna Lane (Novel)

A gave this a generally positive review last week. Since then, the setting has still stayed with me, but the rest hasn’t. A good, but not great read, but worth a go on a rainy day. Full review here.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg (Graphic novel – fiction)

the encyclopedia of early earthThis graphic novel is a lot of fun. It starts with an explorer from the north pole reaching the south, meeting his true love, but then finding they cannot come within a few feet of each other. The explorer is a story-teller, so the rest of the book is more of a collection of stories from his home and travels. The stories are re-tellings of bible stories and myths. The re-tellings weren’t different enough from the originals and this made it a good, but not great, book for me. I think I wanted a little more from it.

I liked the use of colour in the artwork – mostly muted tones with a different ‘key’ colour for each mini-story. It’s one of those books that’s a really nice object as well. Recommended if you like fables/myths/fairy tales.

sex-criminals volume 1Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky (Graphic novel – fiction)

I absolutely loved this graphic novel. Weird. Hilarious. Filthy. Definitely check it out. Full review here.

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