September Reads 2014

A mixed bag this month, including the first book in a long time I decided not to finish.

we need new namesWe Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (Novel)

This is sort of a novel, sort of a series of interlinked short stories. I’m not sure about this one; I feel a bit ambivalent and I’m not really sure why. There are a couple of real punch in the gut moments, and there’s a lot in the book to think about, both in content and the way it’s written, but it didn’t quite work for me. I found myself comparing it unfavourably to Americanah by Adiche, which shares a number of similar themes but I thought was better written.

dear committe membersDear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher (Novel)

I really enjoyed the snarky narrator of this novel, but it’s a bit repetitive if you read it all in one go. It’s a light, funny, little-bit-sad, read – particularly recommended if you’ve ever worked in academia. Full review here.

mrs dallowayMrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (Novel)

I have no idea how to review this. Virginia Woolf is a genius. The prose shifts from one character’s viewpoint to another mid-paragraph, or even mid-sentence sometimes, but it just flows and doesn’t feel like a gimmick or too difficult to follow. There’s so much in this seemingly simple story that I could talk about (which I suppose is why it’s studied academically), but all I’ll say is that it’s actually quite a sad book, with nearly every character unhappy with the way their lives have turned out and with the choices they have made. I’m reading The Hours in October, which I’m really looking forward to, particularly so soon after this, but I also need more Woolf in my life.

bad feministBad Feminist by Roxane Gay (Non-fiction)

I loved this collection of essays. None of the ideas felt particularly new to me, but they were so well articulated and nuanced that I still got a lot from them. Roxane Gay is super smart and funny and angry and I’d definitely recommend this collection. Full review here.

diaryDiary by Chuck Palahniuk (Novel)

This is bleakly funny and weird and dark and a bit horrifying, which is basically perfect for me. I wasn’t a fan of the very last page, but I’d still recommend it. I’d like to read some more Palahniuk, particularly Fight Club, just to see how it works as a book and how he manages the dual identity thing at the end. Full review here.


Didn’t finish:

For the first time in a long while, I didn’t finish a book. I used to always finish everything I started, even if I hated it and it was just a slog. But then I realised there are far more books I want to read and re-read than is physically possible in my lifetime, and there are no prizes for finishing books you hate. It still feels a bit wrong to decide to leave a book unfinished, but as soon as I actually put it down it feels hugely liberating. (Pro tip: definitely don’t tweet you’ve left a book club book unfinished; you’ll be spammed by loads of spambot authors trying to get you to read theirs, even though it has the opposite effect. Twitter is annoying sometimes.)

labyrinthLabyrinth by Kate Mosse (Novel)

I managed 350 pages (roughly half) before I put it down, though if it wasn’t a book club book I would have put it down much sooner. I just couldn’t get along with it at all. I found the story kind of ‘meh’ (the worst of all the book reactions), and felt Mosse badly needed an editor, or a better one, due to the sheer amount of pointless description and repetition. It felt like one of those books where the author has done a lot of research about a particular time period and has to crowbar all of that detail in. Harsh maybe, but wouldn’t recommend at all.

State of the TBR: 53 books (I’d like to crack the 40 barrier before Christmas, so I’ve got some serious reading to do!)

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2 Responses to September Reads 2014

  1. Beth says:

    Twice I have tried to read Labyrinth and both times I gave up halfway through. I always see it on my shelf and tell myself I’ll try again (3rd time lucky??) but I think it’s a lost cause.

    • D says:

      Unless you really want to read it, or think you just weren’t in the right mood the other times, I reckon two goes is enough. But I’m probably biased because I didn’t like it!

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