31 December 2017

Recently Read: December


December was the month I got back into reading. Although I could have read another book or two with all the spare time I had, I really enjoyed reading the ones I did. While there are a couple of young adult books in this bunch, I branched out slightly and got stuck into a historical fiction (and a well known one at that), plus a science fiction time travelling number.

Seeing this is the last book post of the year, I thought I would touch on my reading goals for 2018. This year, I set a goal to read 50 books and I have no idea why I did that, considering it has been the most stressful and time-consuming year of my life so far. I reached 41 books, and while that's still a good achievement, I'm not going to be setting a reading goal for next year. I have always felt a tiny bit of pressure to read lots and read fast, but that does no good at all. Here's to savouring books and reading whatever when we want... anyway, here are the four books I read this month.

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig
I fell in love with Matt Haig's storytelling when I read The Humans a few years back. It's a genius book that I think anyone would love. His books tend to be very wise, emotional and a touch funny as well; in the case of The Humans, a lot funny. I knew I had to pick up his latest release and I was not disappointed. On the outside, Tom Hazard is an ordinary 41-year-old man, but he's actually been alive for centuries, enough to mingle with the likes of Shakespeare and Scott Fitzgerald. He's been a piano player in a fancy club in Paris during the 1920s, lived alone in secluded Iceland, and more. But now he's back in London in search of a more normal life, teaching history at a high school. He's part of a society that aims to protect people like him, who helped him feel less alone with his rare condition. This book explores what it's like to be human and how we should appreciate all those things that make us inevitably happy: art, books, love. Weaving in and out of different time frames from the 1500s to now, this book makes you feel a little less alone in thoughts about the meaning of life.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr*
I'm sure you would have heard of this book at some stage. All The Light We Cannot See is a well-known historical fiction that follows a blind girl from France and a German boy who joins the Hitler Youth Movement during World War II. They both try to survive this turbulent time and against all odds their lives intertwine in unexpected ways. It jumps from one year to another and back, as both children grow up with their own troubles and newfound possibilities. Both emotional and bittersweet, I found myself slowly working my way through this. Although it starts off slow, by the end I was bursting to finish it. Above everything, this book shows how there are always kind people in the world no matter what they are born into, or how they are destined to live their life. While it is a pretty long book to read, I think there's a reason so many people tell me they loved this.

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
Although it's taken me a while to actually read this, I'm so glad December was finally the month I picked it up. Even though this may seem like a childish read, it's such a special book that I couldn't not give it five stars. This is Katherine's debut novel about a girl called Wing, who is teased not only for her unique name but her mixed-race appearance. She has a grandmother from China and another grandmother from Ghana, who help her through a tragedy; early on in the book her brother Marcus is involved in a terrible accident that leaves him in a coma. She picks up running as a way of dealing with this, and gets closer to her brother's best friend who she has had a crush on as long as she can remember. While reading, I never felt bored or as if the pacing was slow; I really enjoyed following Wing on her journey as she found something that made her feel alive, and above all discovered that being or looking different isn't a disadvantage.

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill
This is another book I have had lying on my shelves for a while, and this month I decided to finally finish it. I had read about 30 pages of this a couple of years ago but didn't feel compelled to continue it. But as I felt her other book Asking For It was really powerful and well-told, I thought it was only right that I gave Only Ever Yours a second shot. This is a young adult science fiction where women are bred and manufactured in labs to look perfect, all for the connivence and pleasure of men. Taking reality and turning it into the extreme, the book is set at a school where girls are taught how to look and behave. It explores the pressures young girls face with the advent of social media. While I loved the concept of this and thought the idea was a really powerful one, I felt like the execution lacked any punch. I gave this just three stars as I felt the world-building could have been stronger, and the plot was pretty weak. In saying that, if you do like the sound of this it might be worth reading just for the concept alone.


-Emma

*Review Copy

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