I've only gone and read more books! I know, I'm so predictable! Seeing as I have around 50 books on my bookshelf that I still need to read, I won't be stopping any time soon. I've put myself on very short term book ban, following an accidental charity shop haul of over 16 books, until I wade through them all....well maybe not all of them but at least some! I'm actually currently finishing off The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith and after that I'll be finishing off Murning's The Legacy of Lorna Lovelost. I've got a bit of an eclectic mix for you today so hopefully you will all find something that suits your taste! As ever, let me know what you think in the comments below and also let me know what you're currently reading.
girl, interrupted by susanna kaysen
PUBlisher: virago press
'People ask, How did you get in there? What they really want to know is if they are likely to end up in there as well.'
I didn't really know anything about Kaysen as a person, but I knew that Girl, Interrupted had somewhat of a cult following, so after spotting it in my local charity shop for fifty pence I decided to give it a read, despite the fact that I don't read many memoirs. Girl, Interrupted is a poignant memoir of Kaysen's two year stint on a psychiatric ward in the 1960's, renowned for its famous clientele, following a session with a professional that she had never met before. The memoir is packaged in a relatively small amount of pages, with short chapters, meaning that it's a manageable read for most.
Kaysen explores her time on the ward through anecdotes, anecdotes that not only explore the illness of those on the ward, and the illness of Kaysen herself, but implicitly explore the illness of the wider system that put her there in the first place. The examination of the latter is actually also explicitly expressed through Kaysen's inclusion of her official documents that are placed next to her narrative, leaving the reader to examine the sexual constructs of madness at the time. Kaysen's narrative is not only informative and incredibly insightful, but also delicately beautiful in its depiction of mental illness. I think some readers were put off by the distance Kaysen seems to employ at times, or the defensive nature in which she explores some areas, but as someone who has their own mental health problems, I found this all the more relateable, deliberate and intriguing. I also really enjoyed the non-linear approach to her own experiences with mental illness, and maybe wrongly - you tell me, but it didn't strike me as being just another tale of the victimized white woman. I will definitely be giving this several re-reads in the future to bring a bit of clarity to my thoughts, however. I really enjoyed this memoir. It was chilling. It was honest. It was surprisingly funny. I would recommend it to everyone. I really would.
MARK I'M AWARDING: 4 OUT OF 5 (I REALLY LIKED IT)
HOW I LIVE NOW BY MEG ROSOFF
'My name is Elizabeth but no one's ever called me that'
I have neglected young adult literature ever since I stopped reading all of Jacqueline Wilson's back catalogue back in primary school, but I was pleasantly surprised when my beautiful friend Rosie sent me this little gem to read. How I Live Now was under enormous amounts of pressure from me, because I declared that if this novel didn't change my mind, I would forever ignore books targetted at young adults. Thankfully, it really opened my mind. Firstly, I would just like to say that the blurb really does not do it justice, because it is a whole lot more than some sort of doomed love story between a young girl and boy. It deals with some pretty testing subjects, such as war, eating disorders and incestuous love. However, it deals with these in an extremely fresh way. A modern day famous five if you will...sans racism and dodgy Uncle Quentin.
The first half of the book had a great pace thanks to Rosoff's hugely engaging characters, the underlying humour and the way in which Rosoff taps into the desires of your inner child for adventure free from the prying eyes of the adult world. The latter half was just as interesting, and I stayed up til the early hours of the morning reading it because I couldn't work out when to put it down. However, it's in the latter half of the book that we are undoubtedly aware of the harrowing nature of this war, with passages full of grim visceral imagery. Rosoff captures the devastation in such a way that really made me sit up and think, and attempt to contemplate the devastation. Daisy isn't the sort of narrator who is going to tell you all about the theoretical side of the war, but she will envelope you in to her own experience of it. She's not perfect but she's not unbearable. It's this honesty, in times of great horror, that you can really see Rosoff really work against the typical YA schmaltzy idealism. It's gritty, it's raw, it's instinctive. It's about surviving even when you aren't sure whether there is much to survive for. It's about love and relationships that are far from ideal, and far from being perfect. The overarching message hit home throughout, that you should never give up fighting against the struggle, not matter how impossible an outcome may seem. It was an extremely vivid and powerful insight of the complexities of wartime life and attitudes, and yet its climax was delicate in it's heaviness, and on the whole it was an enjoyable read. I'm definitely going to re-read it, and I may even watch the film. However, I would probably suggest that it came with a trigger warning as it deals with EDs. I can't wait to read more of Rosoff's work.
George's marvellous medicine by road dahl
first line: '"l'm going shopping in the village", George's mother said to George on Saturday morning'
One morning, George is left to look after his 'grumpy and grizzly old grouch' of a Grandma whilst his mother pops to the village. Spurred on by boredom and his Grandmother's incessant whining, George decides to switch her usual medicine for a magical concoction of his own making. As you can imagine, chaos ensues as George meanders around the house collecting ingredients ranging from toothpaste to anti-freeze! I read this in about twenty minutes whilst waiting for a lift and it was a fun and fantastical read. I'm not entirely sure I appreciated the way in which women were represented within the story but it didn't affect my enjoyment whilst reading, especially not when a very elongated Grandma was more concerned by the lack of tea and hot buttered toast than her own predicament. I feel ya, girl. A magical tale for children and adults alike, I'm sure.
mark i'm awarding: 3 out of 5 (i liked it)
the fault in our stars by john green
first line: 'Late in the winter of my seventeen year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death'
TFIOS follows terminal cancer patient Hazel and her 'gorgeous plot twist' Augustus Waters as they weave one another in to their uncertain futures, exploring what it is to be 'alive and in love'. What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said?! Everyone and their dog has read it, and enjoyed it, and cried at it, and laughed at it, so I was kind of nervous about being late to the party. Was I going to appreciate it as much as everyone else?! You know what, I think I did. John writes in such an engaging way, and his character development is absolutely spot on. Usually when I write reviews I have a long list of things to point out, but with TFIOS I barely wrote a thing because I was too in to reading and didn't want to stop to note anything down. However, I did manage to write the following: 'resonant', 'insightful', 'funny', 'beautiful', 'I think I fancy Augustus', 'honest', 'devastating' 'heartfelt', 'raw', '...almost ethereal'.
So yeah, this book consumed me for a day or so. It drew me in and it didn't let me go until it had stripped everything from me. It was quite something, I think. If I wasn't already a fan of John Green, I am now. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie, and I'm definitely going to pick up his other books.
marks i'm awarding: 4 out of 5 (i really liked it)
Have you read any of these books? Which ones take your eye? Feel free, as ever, to let me know what you're currently reading because I'm always on the look out for new books! Although, I've decided that I'm not going to buy anymore until I've read at least another ten. I've already got other books lined up to review so keep an eye out but, until then, I'm off to pack my bag for a little jaunt away ♥