I am an avid reader who loves weird/speculative fiction. But, I also read literary fiction. I love talking about books and hope you love listening to me. I started reading when I was young and never stopped. I like books that explore new worlds in old ways and old worlds in new ways. I like books that tell old stories in new ways. I love tales of the weird. I like poems that tell stories and stories that read like poems
Both of these books were given to me by the publisher in the hope of an honest review.I have chosen to review, Black, Listed Black British Culture Explored, by Jeffrey Boakye, Little, Brown Book Group UK, Dialogue Books and Taking Up Space the Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change, by Chelsea Kwakye, Ore Ogunbiyi, Random House UK, Cornerstone together. Since, their themes gel together really well.
Russell Group Universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, are elitist institutions whose studentship mainly comprise; rich, white, heterosexual, Cis, men. Taking up space is written by a group of Black women who have bucked that trend by attending these Elite Universities. It takes the form of letters written to; Black girls who wish to follow in the footsteps of the authors, and those individuals who wish to help them accomplish that goal. The letters take the reader through every step of the process; applying to the university, arriving at the university, Fresher’s week, leaving university, and finding a job. It gives advice on; how to tackle Fresher’s week, finding your tribe, socialising, balancing work and personal time, issues around mental health, and dealing with institutions that are imbued with hidden and not so hidden Racism. It clearly outlines the barriers faced by this group of students. It’s a condemnation of these institutions and an inspiration for those students wishing to survive and thrive in institutions that are hostile to their very existence. This book was aimed at Black women. However, many of the issues raised in the text resonated with my experience of being; a working class, queer, state educated woman who attended a Russell group University. It is a thought-provoking work. That inspires and reproves in equal measure.
Blacklisted is another book on Race. But, while Taking up Space explores practical
experiences of racism, Blacklisted looks at the language we use to describe and
explain issues of Race. It explores the words
we use to describe ‘Black’ people. It looks
at words, such as; Black Ethnic Minority, Black Minority ethnic, ‘other’, and African
American, exploring the various ways that society creates and reinforces racial
hierarchies. Each word is given its own essay. Each essay weaves together personal narrative
and cultural criticism to form a picture of the word and its place in both; cultural
discourse and lived experience. It is a very worthwhile read. I highly recommend
both books. What are you reading? Talk to me in the comments.
I received these books from the publisher in the hope of an honest review. This post will be an update on what I have been reading. I DNF’d We are theWeather Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer, Penguin Books (UK) and Deeplight by Frances Harding, Pan Macmillan, Macmillan Children’s Books. Neither of these books managed to keep my attention. Deeplight is a fantasy novel. It is set In a world in which the Gods have destroyed themselves. The novel follows the attempts of a group of humans to survive in this new world. The novel was interesting. However, I couldn’t connect with either; the setting or the characters. So, I lost interest and couldn’t gain the motivation to keep reading.
We are Weather seeks to argue that we have become disconnected
to the issue of climate change. The author
argues that we need to be given clear guidelines concerning, both; what we can do
as individuals, and what we can do as a collective. However, ironically, the opening
arguments of We are Weather felt disjointed and muddled, making the reader
disconnected from the text and its important arguments. In addition, there’s a lot
of stuff about the author here. We hear
endlessly about how guilty HE feels about global warming and how great he is at
being vegetarian. It would have been nice
to hear about those people already suffering the effects of climate change. Therefore, I soon became disconnected to the text
and stopped reading.
The Nuremberg Trials: Volume I, Bringing the Leaders of Nazi
Germany to Justice by Terry Burrows.
Following the Second World war, prominent Nazi officers were put on trial
for war crimes. This book follows; the lead up to the trials, the decisions made,
and the characters who made those decisions. The text makes a detailed analysis
of the primary documents surrounding these trials. It is an interesting read. However,
its detailed nature may prove off putting to some readers.
I hope that you enjoyed this post. What are you currently reading?
We are back in the realm of semi-forgotten arcs. (Please be aware that I received these books from the publisher in the hope of an honest review I will begin with the book that I didn’t finish. Messengers Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t, And Why by Stephen Martin; Joseph Marks. The title tells you what it is about. It’s about those people who get listened to and those who don’t, looking at the characteristics of both groups of individuals. There’s nothing ground-breaking about this book. If you’ve lived in the world, then you know many of these arguments.
Semicolon How a misunderstood punctuation mark can improve your writing, enrich your reading and even change your life by Cecelia Watson. I scan read this book. The title makes you think that it’s about semicolons. But, it’s more than that. It’s a history of grammar and a historic explanation of how people have understood grammar. It outlines how the grammar rules, we have today, were born. The author continues to argue that the current rules of grammar are too rigid and confusing, concluding that these rules need to be redrawn and relaxed. The book is highly detailed and extremely interesting. However, the amount of detail stopped me from being fully engrossed in the book.
I really liked Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett. Simone has recently left her old school after being forced to come out as HIV Positive. When we meet her, she is comfortable at her knew school. She has made friends and is directing a high school production of Rent. She has even met a cute boy and is considering a sexual relationship. Then she begins to get letters and messages threatening to disclose her HIV status. This book has a diverse group of characters. It explores issues that confront teens who are living with a HIV status. In addition, it shows a teenager coming of age in a complex world: confronting prejudice and finding allies. It is an engaging and fun read that deals with serious issues in a fun way.
The year 1999 felt like a good year. I was happily ensconced at University. I had made a great group of friends. The Labour Party was in power. They were making some great changes. The Scottish Parliament was born. Everything felt new and fresh. I can’t believe twenty years have passed since that happy year. But, here we are and the Scottish Parliament is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. To celebrate, the Parliament has released two books; – The Scottish Parliament in its Own Words An Oral History by Thomas A.W. Stewart Luath Press and The Scottish Parliament At Twenty by Jim Johnston and James Mitchell Luath Press. The first is a series of essays. These essays, penned by various individuals, speak of the; past, present and future of the Parliament. They discuss issues, such as; how the Scottish Parliament differs from its London counterpart, It’s relationship with the UK Parliament, its attempts to increase local participation, its relationship with local councils, the inclusion/exclusion of marginalized groups, the way that the Parliament is funded, and the way that the institution utilizes its budget. The second book explores the memories of people involved in its history. I really enjoyed these two books
The other two books were less impressive. I DNF’d the one and scanned read the second. I DNF’d
We Need New
Stories Challenging the Toxic Myths Behind Our Age of Discontent by Nesrine
Malik, Orion Publishing Group, W&N… It
argues that the stories we tell are toxic and that we need to create new ones. I don’t know why I couldn’t finish this book.
I may have been in the wrong mood for this
David Bowie was a reader and he was
asked to share a list of his favorite books.
This is an annotated version of this list. It looks at the books on the list
as individual items, before exploring the role they played within Bowie’s life and
art. If you dip in and out, reading a section,
and then putting the book down, then you will enjoy this book. But, it gets boring
if you try and read straight through.
These books didn’t warrant a full
review. But, I wanted to tell you what I
have read. I hope you found this to be a
worthwhile read. What are you reading?
AIl books provided by netgalley in the hope of an honest review. seem to have gotten back on a semi regular posting schedule. So, I am reinstating Throwback Thursday. However, I have given it the new name of Forgotten Arc Thursday, which makes more sense. Firstly, Modern Sudanese Poetry an Anthology Translated and edited by Adil Babikir. This book was an interesting read and had some fairly good poems. However, it wasn’t very memorable. I don’t have much to say about this work. I can say the same for Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith. I loved Just kids and M Train , Therefore, I was really excited when I saw that Patti Smith had another book available. The first two books were inspirational to me. They showed me the creative life, inspiring me to be more imaginative in my life and work. This book is very different to the other books. The first two books have a conventional structure. They follow a life journey. However, while this is still a memoire, this is less linear. It takes the form of a stream of consciousness narrative, combining real life with dreamscape. I liked this book and found it intellectually intriguing. However, it did not have the same emotional punch of the first two books.
Silk Roads: A New History of the World and The
New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World explore the cultural narratives
of this route and the nations that have;
thrived, died, and recreated themselves alongside it. As a rule, history is a story that centres on
Europe and its off shoots. These books change
that focus, expanding the cultural story to embrace other countries, including;
Russia, China, and the Middle East. They
show how these countries have always been at the centre of history and will be the
centre of any, future, global order.
These books were all good.
However, I didn’t have much to say about them. Therefore, I put them here. I Hope you find something
that you want to read. Leave a comment down
below if anything is calling to you. What
are you reading?
Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the
spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go
down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and
deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to view, what
precipices and lawns sprinkled with bright flowers a little rise of temperature
reveals, what ancient and obdurate oaks are uprooted in us by the act of
sickness, how we go down into the pit of death and feel the waters of
annihilation close above our heads and wake thinking to find ourselves in the
presence of the angels and the harpers when we have a tooth out and come to the
surface in the dentist’s arm-chair and confuse his ‘Rinse the mouth—rinse the
mouth’ with the greeting of the Deity stooping from the floor of Heaven to
welcome us—when we think of this, as we are so frequently forced to think of
it, it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love
and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature.
Virginia Woolf 1930 On Being ill Hogarth house
if my body could tell the story? What would it say? I think it would talk about
blood. Its mesmerising flow and its ebb. About ending and renewing. I think it
would talk about the touch of my fingers and my hands and another’s lips. The
feel of skin on skin. Wet and slow. Soft and hard. The shock of cold, the
pleasure of warmth. I think it would talk about the delight of orgasm and the
delight of laughter and the delight of sating hunger. About tasting sharp and
spicy, soothing and creamy. I think it would talk about looking out and pulling
in. I think it would talk about perfume and stink. About clean and dirty. I
think it would talk about illness and recovery, about fortitude …. I think it
would talk about loss and grief. About standing solo and holding together.
About longevity and transformation. About satisfaction. About happiness. About
joy. I think it would sound strong. I think it would sound loud. I think it
would sound proud.” P. 130
Emily Pine 2019
Notes to self by Emily Pine foregrounds
the embodied, every day, experiences of being an adult woman living in the 21st
century. Exploring, physicality, pain, grief
and hope, these essays vividly bring the modern world to life. We are all made up
of mind and body. However, they are not two
spheres. They are two interconnected parts
of one organism. Each part shaping, delineating, and limiting the other. We are both; our mind and body. Their interconnections
and interactions shape our very being. Yet,
as Virginia Woolf argues, the body, and its weaknesses, are often ignored in literature. However modern female writers, such as Emily Pine,
are writing about the body. In this study
Pine writes to, and about, the self; a self-description that acknowledges the body. She writes of; the sick body, the caring body,
the childless body, the mothering body, and the ageing body.
The first essay, NOTES ON INTEMPERANCE, (p.3) looks at her relationship
with her alcoholic father. The story begins
at her father’s sickbed. We see Pine’s experiences of caring for a sick father who
is suffering from the effects of a life spent with ‘alcohol. The essay then hovers between past and present,
looking at how her father’s alcoholism affected our authors; childhood, adulthood,
and her relationship with her troubled parent.
This essay moves seamlessly from: heartbreakingly moving, through the darkly
funny, to a place of peace and hopefulness.
This essay, like the rest of the collection, is, at once, painfully honest
and compellingly hopeful. In addition, these essays do not flinch on the physical
detail. Such as the humiliation faced by her sick father when he does not receive
the care he needs “By the time we find him, he has been lying in a small pool
of his own shit for several hours.” (Pine 2019; p.3.]
The second essay FROM THE BABY YEARS (p. 39] explores the author’s attempts to have
a child and to come to terms with her body’s inability to conceive. The essay does not shy away from a description of the physical ordeal suffered by
Pine as she goes through the process of IVF and the ordeal of the physical, invasive
exams undergone by a woman who is trying to have a child; “I pee on sticks and into
sample cups. I pee on my own hand when the stream won’t obey. I open my legs wide
for sex, for the doctor’s speculum. I hold my arm out for needles and blood pressure
monitors and sometimes to grasp onto my partner as he sits next to me.” (Pine 2019; p39]. She is honest about her feelings.
Firstly, she is thoughtfully honest about her indecision regarding motherhood “together
we talked, almost nostalgically, about our lives as people who loved quiet, and
calm, and the space to read and write. On the page those may seem like little virtues,
but that list represented for me, for us, a peaceful, happy, fulfilling life. A
child would mean giving all that up for years. Would it be worth it?” (ibid
39-40). Secondly, she is viscerally honest
about her yearning for motherhood “I am fearful and hopeful and shameful. I worry
that I am empty, or that I am full of the wrong things. I worry that I am disappearing,
eroding, failing. I do not know what to do with all these feelings. I only want
to be a mother. Why is that so easy for some people and so hard for others? Why
is it so hard for me?” ibid
Source Netgalley (in the hope of an honest review)
What do you think of when you think of horror? Well, sadly, most people think of film. Moreover, if you think of books and authors, then, I am guessing that, the names Stephen King and Clive Barker come to mind. I would imagine that you don’t think of women writers. In fact, a few people reading this post are saying; ‘women don’t write horror’. ‘Monster She Wrote’ seeks to proof that women have always written horror. In fact, women were at the very start of the horror movement. They were major names within the literary movement that gave birth to horror, i.e. the Gothic.
This book looks at the lives, and works, of female authors, placing them in context with their historical era. The authors explore the history of the horror movement and the role of women within that sphere. The book begins by examining horror’s gothic routes, exploring the work of writers, such as; Anne Radcliffe and Mary Shelley. It then moves onto the spiritualist writings of, relatively unknown writers, such as Alice Askew. The authors then take us through the pulps, exploring the work of writers, such as Charlotte Riddle and Elizabeth Gaskell. Then the work examines modern day horror queens, such as Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice and Sarah Walters.
This book seeks to fill a very large hole within the history of horror, giving the work of women authors the attention it deserves. But, it does more than that; providing a useful introduction to the history of the field , introducing each of its waves, and contextualising these movements against their wider historical setting. It’s an interesting look at an interesting field of literature