Monday, 13 June 2016

Recently Read: May!

It's been a while since there was a book post around these parts, so here's all the books I read last month (sorry it's a bit late…as always).

Spectacles; a memoir by Sue Perkins
As I've mentioned before, I love autobiographies on audio because they're usually narrated by the author and tend not to require as much concentration as a work of fiction does in the same format. With this in mind and having seen plenty of positive reviews on Goodreads, I gave this a go. I've loved Sue (and also Mel, of Mel and Sue fame) since their Light Lunch days, which my sister and I used to greatly enjoy. I also love The Great British Bake Off, which is always an annual televisual highlight for me. Having said all of that, I'm not really sure what I was expecting of Sue's memoir but whatever it was, I was disappointed. It's narrated well, for sure but I felt like not that much actually happened in her life to warrant a book. That sounds harsh but a lot of her experiences seemed a bit ordinary to me, including an entire chapter donated to the story of her dog repeatedly having explosive diarrhoea in her car. It's not by any means the worst autobiography I've read but I wouldn't be going out of my way to recommend it either. (I'll take this opportunity to apologise to the aforementioned sister for buying this for her last Christmas.)

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
This was an advanced reader copy, so a huge thanks to Netgalley for that! I started reading this in January and have only just finished it, so that might give you an idea of how much I put it down to pick up something else instead. This is actually an incredibly charming novel, it was just too slowly paced for me.
Sara is a young Swedish woman who decides on a whim to visit her pen-pal and fellow book lover, Amy in her small American town, Broken Wheel. When she arrives, she finds things aren't quite what she expected and feels a bit out of place. The townsfolk however, quickly take her under their collective wing and in an effort to pay them back for their kindness, Sara responds the only way she knows how; with books. At first the locals are reluctant but Sara is determined and believes there's a book for everyone.
One of the things I really loved about this book was all the book references. Harry Potter, Jane Eyre, Bridget Jones and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, to name but a few. This is a story for people who really appreciate a good book and I love nothing more than a book about books. Have I used the word 'book' too often there? Nah, you can never say book too often.
Anyway, it moves along quite pleasantly without a huge amount happening although there is also a somewhat convoluted love story in there. Definitely a pleasant read, if you're looking for something lighthearted. 

A Book For Her by Bridget Christie
I bought this on sale on kindle for about a pound I think and it turned out to be a great purchase. The first line of the description really drew me in: "Bridget Christie is a comedian, feminist and idiot." The prologue had me laughing out loud and reading out sections to himself and the rest of the book carried on in the same thread. Similar to her stand up work, Christie manages to weave feminist issues such as female genital mutilation with humour- generally at her own expense. There's a few running gags that made me chuckle every time I came across them and some brilliant lines like:
 "I was given Catholicism by my parents, who I love. But it's a bit like being given a three legged dog. I'd rather have gone to the dogs' home and picked a dog myself, which had four legs, but we've made eye contact now. I can't just leave it there."
I loved this one, if you're into comedy and feminism (because why wouldn't you be!) then this is the book for you.

If I Did It; Confessions of the Killer (part OJ Simpson with extra commentary from The Goldman family)
A bit of background here; I recently watched The People vs OJ Simpson on BBC2, which I thought was great. I also have vague memories of the huge case that it was at the time so I wanted to read up on it a bit more. What happened with this book was that OJ Simpson had started writing it as a way to make money out of his ex wife's murder and that of Ron Goldman, the young man caught in the crossfire of Simpson's possessive rage. Most of the book is Simpson's own words; a "how-to", if he had committed the crimes. Goldman's family brought a civil case against him after he won the original case and they won this time. He owed them a huge amount of money in damages but as he showed no intention of paying it, they won the rights to this book. They've added their own comments and that of a personal friend of the family who was also a journalist involved in the court case. I listened to this on audio (obviously not narrated by Simpson), and found it almost unbearable to be listening to an abuser detail how "crazy" his ex was and how great he is and how really she was the abuser, not him etc etc. After finishing this, I couldn't actually tell you what the point of it was but I know it wasn't worth bothering with. 

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
This was a big award winner when it was released a couple of years ago and is the story of an incredibly grim Irish childhood. So far, so Angela's Ashes except this is written in a non-linear fashion, almost Ulysses-esque at times. I listened to this on Audio because I thought it might be easier to absorb but I think either way it would have been quite accessible- you get into the pattern of the writing quite quickly. The skill involved in the writing is obvious but I have to say I found the themes of Catholic oppression, misogyny, cancer, child abuse and sexual violence just a bit too much. 
(I'd like to take this opportunity to also apologise to my mother-in-law for buying this for her for Christmas a couple of years ago).

That's the lot for the minute. 
I've learnt that I need to stop buying my loved ones books that I haven't actually read myself….

But that aside, what are you reading right now?
To the comments!


  1. I feel a bit responsible for Spectacles because I really enjoyed it on audio (except the explosive dog) - I found A Girl is a Half Formed Thing exhausting, I liked it (if you could say "I liked it" about those themes) but it took a great deal of energy to read it.

  2. I love your added apologies! Hhmm I loved Light Lunch too but think I'll be avoiding Sue's book if it's a little too 'ordinary'. Nothing wrong with a good, ordinary life but it doesn't necessarily warrant a full book about it either:)

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