With one notable exception February was a bit of write-off. I was too ill most of the time to do much of anything, including reading. It’s the first month in a very long time that I’ve read nothing (and watched nothing new), but, it happens. This time a couple of years ago, even last year, I never would have thought I’d be well enough to do a full-time PhD, so I’m not going to beat myself up if I can’t always read as much as I used to.
Pages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg (novel)
I really enjoyed this. Novels set on American university campuses are my weakness for some reason, and this is also a lesbian coming-of-age book in which neither gay character dies at the end (you’d be surprised how rare that is). It’s about the rush and passion of first love, and as a result both characters are a little thin as it’s more about the getting swept up in each other so I didn’t really mind. The chapters are short and choppy so it’s really easy and quick to read. Definitely recommend.
New World: An Anthology of Sci-fi and Fantasy edited by C. Spike Trotman (comics, fiction)
This is an anthology broadly about first contacts between civilisations. They’re all by different writers and artists, so, as is the way with collections, I liked some more than others. There weren’t many that really stuck with me afterwards, and I think I just wanted some of the ideas to be developed further.
Women & Power by Mary Beard (non-fiction)
This short book is essentially two lectures that Mary Beard gave with a short preface and afterward. As a classicist, she refers to ancient Greece and Rome to understand today’s structures of power and women’s place in it. It’s partly about how “you can’t easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change the structure”, and partly about how we need to alter what we understand as ‘having power’. As a short book, I wanted more, particularly on re-understanding the concept of power, but mostly I wish I’d seen her give these speeches. I wanted to underline so many sentences and I’ll definitely re-read this.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (graphic novel, non-fiction)
I think this was one of the first graphic novels I read and so was interesting to go back to. I was re-reading it for a book club I’m facilitating, and I’m really interested to see what people new to the genre make of it. I didn’t get anything new from it on this read, but I think I appreciated the craft of it more – the way she circles back to stories with new information or perspective so you see the same panels in a new way.
The Good People by Hannah Kent (novel)
It took me a little while to get into this, I think because Kent has a tendency to put a little bit too much of her research into her writing, but I enjoyed it once I did. She’s really good at developing the sense of place so that you can really see and feel it, and she writes her characters in a way that you can empathise and understand them even if you don’t agree with them at all. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Burial Rites, and it was a little too long in places, but it was enjoyable enough for a bank holiday read.