Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (non-fiction)
This lives up to all the hype. Written as a letter to his teenage son, Between the World and Me is about what it means to inhabit a black male body. It has the death of Coates’ friend at university at its centre, but is also about how history has led to this present, and what might come of the future. There were a couple of bits I didn’t like, and I preferred Claudia Rankine’s Citizen which covers similar themes, but this eloquent and emotional book is still well worth your time.
Saga volume 5 by Fiona Staples & Brian K Vaughan (comic – fiction)
All of the different storylines are coming together and, because I’m reading it in trades rather than singles, it took me a little while to get back into it and remember who was who and where and why. Volume 3 is still my favourite, but I really enjoyed this one too. It has a general theme of the ethics of violence, particularly when it came to Marko’s history, and introduced a bunch of new weird characters ready for the next volume. I’m looking forward to it already.
Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler (fiction)
Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler (fiction)
These are the last two books in the Lilith’s Brood trilogy. I always think I’m not that into sci-fi, but I think I actually love it. Each book is narrated by a different kind of creature (human/construct/ooloi), each a few decades ahead of the last. It’s partly about the ‘human flaw’ – intelligence at the service of hierarchical behaviour – but also about the ethics of what the alien race, the Oankali, are doing. For me, that was the most interesting part alongside the plot. Butler never truly, directly addresses the problems with the Oankali’s ethics, and just hints them through some characters’ actions. I love when an author leaves spaces for the reader to think and fill, and it seems harder to do well with a book that’s so plot-driven. No wonder she’s the queen of sci-fi.
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller (fiction)
This is a gripping and enjoyable book, and really good for a wintery night, but I found the twist annoyingly obvious and, for some reason, found the book unsatisfying as a whole. Full review here.
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (fiction)
As you probably know, this is Bertha’s story, the ‘mad woman in the attic’ from Jane Eyre. It’s told from the perspective of both Bertha (real name Antoinette) and Mr Rochester, and takes place mainly in the Caribbean where Antoinette lives and meets Rochester, with the ending crossing over with events in Jane Eyre. Sadly, I liked the ideas of the book more than the book itself. But I do get the feeling I’ll enjoy it more on a second reading – something about the purposeful disorientation of it is worth another look.
Also on the blog in November:
My budget bookish gift guide – everything for your favourite book nerd for less than the price of a paperback
Currently reading: I still haven’t settled on a book but probably City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg