Everything I read in February was excellent. So, even though I didn’t read a lot, it was a really good reading month. In the order I read them:
The Silent Woman by Janet Malcolm (non-fiction)
This was the first book for the Women’s Lives Book Club (you can join by clicking the link – March’s pick is Wrapped in Rainbows by Valerie Boyd, a biography of Zora Neale Hurston). It’s a biography of Sylvia Plath and a meta-biography of the nature of biography writing itself using Plath’s story as context and vice versa. It was such as interesting book to discuss because of that meta element, but also because Malcolm’s writing style is beautiful and yet, at times, divisive and condescending.
Deep Sea and Foreign Going by Rose George (non-fiction)
The shipping industry is one of the world’s largest, and a huge proportion of what we eat, wear, and sit on is carried by sea, yet very few people know anything about it. A book about the shipping industry might seem dry on the face of it, but it’s actually fascinating. For me, the most interesting / a little bit terrifying part was how murky ship responsibility is due to the many layers of ownership and ‘flags of convenience’. If you have a problem at sea “who do you complain to, when you are employed by a Manila manning agency on a ship owned by an American, flagged by Panama, and managed by a Cypriot, in international waters?” And if that ship sinks, and you are presumed lost, your family may never know what happened or why it happened, because even if you are a British citizen, a ship with a Panama flag, regardless of who owns it, is the responsibility of Panama to investigate, and they can withhold that information if they want.
Bitch Planet #7 by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Valentine de Landro (comics – fiction)
This dealt with the aftermath of a character’s death in #5, particularly for the women perceived as ‘strong’ by others and themselves, and started setting up for the Megaton. Interestingly, it’s a part one of two, even though it didn’t feel any less whole than previous issues. Definitely one of my favourite issues so far and looking forward to the next.
The Wicked and The Divine vol. 3 by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie (comics – fiction)
I enjoyed this much more than the second volume. It doesn’t fully deal with the cliffhanger of volume 2, but you learn the backstories of many of the gods and it feels like it’s building up to something big for the next arc. I didn’t realise they had guest artists for the later issues in the volume and that did jar quite a bit, particularly the final issue (drawn by Brandon Graham) as McKelvie’s artwork is normally very crisp and vibrant and Graham’s was almost exactly the opposite in a way which didn’t work at all.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (novel)
I can’t believe it’s taken me such a long time to read any Morrison. Her writing is beautiful and quite conversational so you can really hear her prose, if that makes sense. She builds fully-formed characters in a short space, and, at the same time, uses the length of the book to show you Pecola through other characters and generations. I will definitely pick up more of her work.
Currently reading: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov