Reading wrap up | January 2019

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Hello! It is already February (HOW) and that means it’s time for me to wrap up all the books that I’ve read in the past month. Even if it is now the middle of the month and I’m a little late.

I set my target at 52 for the year which means I should be reading at least one book a week, or four a month, which I was a little bit worried about as I tend to go through phases of reading loads or reading nothing.

However, pleased to say that I smashed that four books goal this month. Despite how sad the above picture looks, in January, I read a total of eight books. Woohoo!

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The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

Pages: 224
Genre: Non-fiction
Publish date: March 2017
Star rating: 4 stars
Format: Ebook

The Stranger in the Woods is, as the extended title suggests, the story about a hermit. Written by a journalist, the hermit in the Maine woods was something of a local legend among the community he lived in for years, where items and food used to go missing from holiday homes for years and years. The hermit, called Christopher, was almost completely self sustaining (minus the stealing) and was in the woods for 27 years. He was discovered and went to jail, making national news, which is where Michael Finkel discovered him. It goes through his time in the woods, a bit of his story including how he was as a person, and how he coped in jail. I ended up giving it four stars, because it genuinely was an interesting story and I was intrigued by him. I did find the journalist’s obsession with the man a bit odd, especially after it was clear he wanted to be left alone which I think marred how much I enjoyed the book. Overall, I don’t read a massive amount of non-fiction, and I did really like this one.

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Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Pages: 163
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publish date: June 2018
Star rating: 3 stars
Format: Ebook

I picked this up at a whim because I’d heard good things about it and I was looking for something a bit different. I have to say, this book is weird. It’s about a woman called Keiko who gets a job as a convenience store worker while in university and stays 18 years later. Her entire life revolves around the shop, and every waking and breathing moment is consumed by being the best shop worker she can be. That’s until she agrees to take a man into her home, and everything goes a bit downhill. I ended up giving it three stars because I read it pretty much in one sitting, but I don’t think I really ‘got’ what the book was trying to do. It’s entertaining, but definitely a weird one.

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My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Pages: 304
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publish date: July 2018
Star rating: 3 stars
Format: Physical book (from the library)

I honestly don’t know why I picked this one up. A few years ago I read Eileen, and didn’t find the main character likeable or interesting in the slightest but here we go again, giving another Moshfegh novel a try. Unsurprisingly, I also didn’t like the main character. However, unlike Eileen, this one has an allure to it that made me want to keep reading. It’s honestly just about a privileged rich girl who decides she wants to take a year off from her life, so she takes a lot of drugs to make her sleep. That’s pretty much it. I gave it a three stars because I wasn’t interested at all but I did want to see where the story was going, so you’ve got to give her props for that. Didn’t hate it, definitely didn’t love it. Doubt i’ll try another from her.

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Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Pages: 477
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publish date: May 2013
Star rating: 4 stars
Format: Audiobook

Americanah bills itself as a book about the relationship between two people from Nigeria, but it isn’t really. It follows Ifemelu, who moves from Nigeria to America, and her struggles in the country, before she eventually moves back. It touches a lot on her perceptions of race, and the differences between black people living in Nigeria, and black people living in America. It does also speak quite a lot about the relationships she has, but I wouldn’t say that is the focal point of the story. She is strong willed, independent and very much her own person. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s writing is always fantastic, and I really enjoyed this one. Would highly recommend!

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The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein

Pages: 291
Genre: Non fiction
Publish date: April 2018
Star rating: 5 stars
Format: Audiobook

I loved this. It’s so interesting. The novel follows the life of Sandra Pankhurst, who is a trauma cleaner (which I’m weirdly fascinated by), but it’s so much more than just trauma cleaning. Going from when she was young, it touches on her childhood, what she was like as a young man, her marriage and kids, her job choices, going through gender reassignment surgery, starting her own business and where she is today, with cancer. Her story is heartbreaking, with lots of drugs and abuse, but at the end of it all she is still a wonderfully positive person who spends her lives in sensitive situations helping people with hoarding problems, bereaved families and more. Loved it.

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All The Names They Used For God by Anjali Sachdeva

Pages: 272
Genre: Short stories
Publish date: February 2018
Star rating: 3 stars
Format: Ebook

I don’t really read any short story collections, and I did not particularly enjoy this one which didn’t help. To be fair, there’s about nine different stories in here and I did actually like some of them better than others. I thought it started off well and ended well but I was a bit iffy in the middle. I couldn’t tell you half of them and I only read it about two weeks ago, but I think part of this is just that I read quite quickly and short story collections should really be savoured. I would still recommend picking it up if it’s something you enjoy, they were very varied and all were interesting in their own ways, but it’s just the medium I don’t particularly mess with.

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Pages: 320
Genre: Historical fiction
Publish date:
Star rating: 5 stars
Format: Physical book (from the library)

I picked up Homegoing as part of my Reading Women challenge for the year. It was a straight five stars, and I wasn’t actually sure what to expect. The novel begins with two women, and their stories. They’re half sisters, with the same mother, but never meet. Each character is given only one chapter, which made me a little sad, I won’t lie, but the chapters alternate between the next generation from the original two. It speaks about living in villages in Ghana, the slave trade and how that changes with time, to the descendants living in America. I won’t give it away, but I thought this was great and really interesting.

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My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Pages: 226
Genre: Mystery
Publish date: November 2018
Star rating: 3 stars
Format: Physical book (from the library)

I understand the allure of this book, I do. It follows two sisters, one who is a serial killer and the other who is always called to clean up her messes. Ayoola kills all her boyfriends, and Korede makes it go away. But Korede seems to have this total disdain for her sister (fair enough) but she still helps and doesn’t want to see her go to jail? Even when Ayoola goes after the one man that Korede is in love with. It also paints him out to be a lovely person, and then when he gets together with Ayoola, horrible. There’s a lot of pettiness in this book and honestly I didn’t think the plot was that strong so it was a little disappointing for me.

 

February is already not shaping up to be quite as good as January was reading-wise, but I do have a week off to plan some content and read more so hopefully I’ll be able to get more in then!

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