I’m on the mend. My blood pressure is not. My hormones are not (yet), but physically I am getting there. There is a lot to be said for lying around on the sofa, eating good food and reading good books.
Now my head is back in the game as far as reading goes, I’m going to be writing more about what I’m reading. I’ve also joined Netgalley recently and have been lucky to get an advance peek at some brilliant things that will be being published in the coming months, so it seems only fair to talk about them a bit.
Here’s a blast through what I’ve read since the op. I’ll try to review as I go from now on, so it’s not such of an onslaught in future.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman – Oh. Oh. Oh. How wonderful it was to realise I hadn’t already read this. It is epic in every sense of the word. So readable, so clever, so funny and absolutely joyous. I have a particularly soft spot for myth and legend remade for the modern world, and this is like the ur version of that. Also, as our old copy had literally fallen to bits I was delighted to find that the new TV tie in version is only £3.85 on Amazon at the moment. I was also lucky enough to find that there are two short stories which follow the main character, Shadow Moon, after the book ends; Black Dog and Monarch of the Glen. If you buy them for Kindle, they’re 99p each, and if you have the new version of the book, Monarch of the Glen is an add on at the end. If you’ve never experienced Gaiman before, now is the time.
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk-Kidd – I agreed to read this at the request of a friend who wanted to talk about it with me. It really isn’t my thing, dealing as it does with Monk-Kidd’s awakening as a feminist but with a very strong slant towards her religious faith. I approve of the feminist awakening. I absolutely agree with her right to faith and any way she wants to express it. I just didn’t really want to read about it. It’s not her Christianity that bothers me. I’d be equally unenthused about anyone’s story of their faith journey, whatever that faith might be. Having said that, she is articulate, intelligent and thoughtful. Her personal journey was also interesting, despite being not to my taste, and I applaud how much of her conditioning she was able to recognise and shake off, and how positively she was able to remake her life Some sections of the book were actually very affecting and thought provoking and I was glad I read it in the end, although I could have done with it being an essay rather than a 250 page book.
After Kathy Acker by Chris Kraus – I’d read about Kathy Acker’s work in an interview I saw with Neil Gaiman, who was a friend of hers. He mentioned how much he had loved her book Blood and Guts in High School. I had looked at it and was unsure about it, so when this biography of Acker was offered to me to review by Amazon Vine, I took it, in the hope that it would make me sure one way or the other. The biography is well written, meticulously researched and interesting. I’m still not sure though that Acker will do it for me as a writer, and she came across as a massive pain in the arse for the most part. If you’re a fan of Acker, I think you will love this.
The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club: Part One: Diving In by Katherine May – In the spirit of full disclosure I will tell you that Katherine is my friend. I will also tell you that I bought the book myself (a snip at 99p on Kindle) and that I bloody loved it, and I’d love it even if she weren’t my friend. It’s the first of a three parter about a group of disparate women who meet up through their love of swimming, and go on to forge strong bonds of friendship. It’s funny and nuanced and gentle and I am properly excited for part two.
If You Could See Me Now by Keris Stainton – And again, I must tell you that Keris is my friend (I am very blessed in the talented friends department – what can I say). I paid for the book (a steal at £1.99) on Kindle, and my views are very much my own. Luckily I loved this too. It’s the story of Izzy Harris, a young woman used to having the world ignore her, until one day, the unthinkable happens and she becomes invisible, even to herself. It reminded me of the book Freaky Friday which I loved as a child, in that it has that metaphorical becomes real, swapping vibe in which the central character learns a lot from stepping outside of herself in some way. The book is sexy, frank and wonderfully for a romance, empowering for the central character. This is Keris’ first book for adults, building on her solid foundations as writer for teens and children. I hope she continues to add to her adult oeuvre.
I should also mention two books I read just before my hospital incarceration, both supplied by Netgalley.
Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali – A classic in Turkey, this is a post modern, tragic love story set in Berlin in the Thirties. It was atmospheric and beautifully written and reminded me in places of Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood. It was rather lovely in a melancholy way.
Ink In Water by Lacy J. Davis and Jim Kettner – A graphic novel about the author’s struggle with anorexia and her road to wellness. I thought, after the first few pages that I had made a horrible mistake with this book, but I was wrong. I found myself enjoying it more and more, and finished it in one sitting I was so emotionally invested in the outcome.
I’ve been reading a lot of children’s fiction. If you are not too silly to think that only children should read children’s books, I have been reading some brilliant things. I’m listing them here, but I have reviewed each one on my Making Them Readers Blog, and you can see full reviews there.
Birthday Boy by David Baddiel – supplied as a review copy by Netgalley. Funny and fast paced. If you like David Walliams you will like this.
The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell – A review copy from Amazon Vine. I had to fight with Oscar and granny to read this first. It’s great.
Mr. Penguin and The Lost Treasure by Alex T. Smith – A review copy from Amazon Vine – I loved this. If you’ve not read Alex T. Smith’s Claude and Sir Bobblysock’s books, you really should. This is just as good.
Goth Girl and the Sinister Symphony by Chris Riddell – Frankly, if you haven’t read the Goth Girl series as an adult, you are missing out big time. They are glorious and so, so funny. This is worth it for the Trump caricature alone.
Finally, finished before I went into hospital, but absolutely worthy of a mention, Netgalley sent me a copy of the graphic novel of Anne of Green Gables by Mariah Marsden. I wasn’t sure how I was going to enjoy this, given that Anne of Green Gables is one of my favourite childhood books, and I worried that making a graphic novel out of it would spoil it. It didn’t. The artwork is glorious. and despite the minimal text, the author has managed to keep the entire spirit and wonder of the original. I loved it so much I have already ordered a physical copy to share with my mum (her copy of Anne of Green Gables was passed on to me. It’s a big deal in our house).
And truly, absolutely finally, if you like poetry, you should check out Ella Risbridger’s new column in The Pool about poetry. There are two so far, one about a poet called Rebecca Lindenberg and the poetry in her book Love: An Index. The other is about a poet called Eileen Myles and her poem, Peanut Butter from the book Not Me. I have been enchanted by both articles, and delighted to be introduced to two wonderful poems and poets. I’ve ordered both books and if the series continues to be as compelling I feel I may be a pauper by the time the year is out, but I will be shored up by all the wonderful words.