27 books: 12-27

Gosh I sometimes miss the days that all I used this blog to do was write about books and my love of them. I now seem to do this less and less on here but my love for reading remains strong.

On my 27th birthday I set myself 27 goals to achieve before I turned 28. Goal 2 was to read 27 new books and on the 3rd  April I achieved it… 127 days before my birthday! That makes anything I read from now until August 9th a bonus, which I enjoy…a lot!

I shared my mini reviews of books 1-11 just before Christmas here: 27 Books: 1-11

Below I will share reviews and highlights from books 12-27. Most were good, a couple were rotten, and a couple were spectacular.

Book recommendation blog 2

*Above is just a selection of the books that will be reviewed below. The rest are at my flat or in the hands of friends who I have lent them to*

12. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Fiction/Contemporary

“I didn’t want a world in which I had to choose between blind human babies and tortured monkey ones. To be frank, that’s the sort of choice I expect science to protect me from, not give me.”

This was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2014 and recommended to me by countless people. There is a big plot twist in this that I won’t ruin for any of you who haven’t read the book. I somehow knew the plot twist before reading but it didn’t ruin the book for me at all. I really loved this book and I think that if you are passionate about putting an end to animal testing and animal rights than you will love it too. Talking to friends that  have also read it there is a big divide between those that loved it (my camp) and those that were disappointed. There was a lot of hype surrounding this book so I can see why they might have been. The only thing that frustrated me a little was the choppy style of writing which could be off putting at times.

13. The First Bad Man: A Novel by Miranda July

Fiction/Contemporary/Adult

“Like a rich person, I live with a full-time servant who keeps everything in order—and because the servant is me, there’s no invasion of privacy.”

I want to read everything that Lena Dunham has ever recommended because every book that she does quickly becomes a favorite! I just really, really, really loved it. I found that reading this was kind of like watching a person, who doesn’t know that you are watching them, dance . There’s all these bizarre jerks and twists and feints that are completely implausible until they happen, and you open your mouth to protest but Miranda July just soothes you and reassures you that it’s all going to be fine and somehow it is!

Despite being, plot wise, so bonkersly unlike anything you have ever thought before- it isn’t surreal or absurdist. It is normal people doing things that are only a beat or two off normal; you just have to go with it, and before you know it has become perfectly reasonable and you’re onto the next thing.

It is also an absolute astonishment of meticulous construction, one you don’t even ever see coming. All the pieces fits so bizarrely and perfectly together. I don’t want to give away the plot as I would have felt robbed if somebody gave it away to me. So instead I shall leave you with a teaser list of things you will find in it: role-playing therapists, appallingly selfish shirking of parental and grandparental duties, self-defense as fitness, globus hystericusm, sexual-preference fluidity, a two-person female Fight Club, a bucket of snails, and the most awkward sex ever.

If you are a man, woman but probably not a child, then please do read this wonderful book.

14. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebbecca Solnit

Non Fiction/Feminism/Women/Essays

“His name was privilege, but hers was possibility. His was the same old story, but hers was a new one about the possibility of changing a story that remains unfinished, that includes all of us, that matters so much, that we will watch but also make and tell in the weeks, months, years, decades to come.”

I love to read a mix of Fiction and Non Fiction and this had been sat unread on my bookshelf for too long. I picked it up and read it from cover to cover in one reading. It is a collection of Rebecca Solnit’s essays that just seem to make sense as to what it is and means to be a woman in the 21st century. What I liked about this book is that it takes women and feminism seriously. Don’t get me wrong I think books such as Yes, Please! and Bossy Pants are wonderfully awesome and equally deserve their place in the world but when writing about violence towards women, killing women, misogyny and rape I appreciate reading the facts that are not hidden behind humor. At times it did become like a never ending spiral into depression but I blame myself for reading it so quickly.

15. The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham

Fiction/Romance/Modern Gothic

Another book that has divided the opinions of people who I speak to who have read it and I think that I fall somewhere in the middle. I really loved the dark humor, its modern gothicness, and I liked a few of the main characters. However, it is the characters overall that I had a problem with, they are hugely undeveloped. There were far too many of them who just didn’t serve a purpose at all and just diverted our attention from the author’s good ideas. I felt that there was too much left unexplored but would recommend it for a quick, quirky read. I can’t wait to see the film.

16. All The Light We Can Not See by Antony Doerr

Fiction/War/Historical

“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

I’m going to be brave and say that I absolutely adored this book and it is currently my number one recommendation to all that I speak to. It is just built on such beautiful imagery. Both in the literal sense – the physical world of 1940s Paris/Germany – and the metaphorical. It’s woven with scientific and philosophical references to light, to seeing and not seeing, and the differences between the two. It’s a beautiful work. It is hugely haunting. That’s how I would describe it. From the chillingly beautiful prose, to the realization of what the title actually means: that underneath the surface of history, there is light – and stories – that have not been seen; that have gone untold. Scientifically, we only see a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum; historically, we only see a small portion of the story. It made me laugh, cry and even name my plants after the main characters. I read it fast and furiously. I couldn’t put it down and neither should you.

*There are a couple of words that I used in this mini review that my old Physics teacher would shit his pants about that I actually did know what he was talking about for roughly 5% of the time! *

17. Love, Style and Life by Garance Dore

Non Fiction/Memoir/Autobiography

book recommendation blog love, style, life

“I hope it will last forever, but maybe it will be just a few days, and it will be great either way. Because you never stop learning about love. Love is joy, pain, surrender, laughter, pleasure. Love is chemistry. Love is one of life’s greatest adventures. And with love, we’re kids forever, stumbling and learning as life unfolds. And this is why, whatever happens, we must keep our hearts open.”

This is not a book to buy on a kindle. The beautiful illustrations and images that run throughout it are it’s highlight. This is a perfect read in a couple of hours type of book. Great for people in love with style, Paris, fashion and writing. The book is a perfect mirror of her blog. Bravo Garance!

18. Love Letters of Great Men by Ursula Doyle

Non Fiction/Romance/ Poetry/Historical

“Ever thine, ever mine, ever ours.’

Fans of the Sex and The City movie will all know of this book that actually didn’t exist whilst the film was filmed but was quickly made after the public demanded it. It is a charming collection of letters written by great men such as Beethoven, Mark Twain and Lord Bryon. Another short read that will leave your heart feeling warmed and fit to burst from all the declarations of undying, eternal love.

19. Paris Letters by Janice Macleod

Non-Fiction/Travel/Autobiography

“…the only way to happiness is to find people with whom you can eat, drink and laugh. That is everything”

I happily read this book through my involvement with the World of Wanderlust’s Book Club. A book club designed for people who enjoy reading and travel. It sounded quirky and I knew that I had to join. I have written an individual blog post for this book which you can read here. I really enjoyed it and it made me want to rush back to Paris…again.

20. Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson

Fiction/Young Adult/Coming of Age

“Jude’s desire for girls was indiscriminate feverish and complete he wanted them all equally and he wanted them not at all. Blondes and brunettes big ones or small ones – they were cold fragile impenetrable creatures all desirable as they were undesirable all perfumed and pretty.”

I’m not quite sure how this ended up in my Amazon basket or why I brought it but buy it I did…enjoy it? Not so much! I don’t think that I can really recommend this book at all. Well actually no, that’s not entirely fair. It was slow to start but once Henderson got on with it actually became quite enjoyable. I loved reading about New York in the 80s. My main problem with the book is that the author tried t tackle a few too many different, big topics in just over 400 pages: adoption, teen pregnancy, AIDS, absent parents, drugs, jock-bullies, damaged lower classes, damaged upper classes, FAS, ODing, straight edge movement, homosexuality…and yet as I finished reading it, it didn’t leave me with much to think about! Why? Because Henderson didn’t focus on any one thing, she just kept throwing out more problems & improbable situations. Probably one to miss if I was you!

21. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Non-Fiction/ Autobiography/Classics/Memoir/Poetry

“Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

I have long loved Maya Angelou’s poetry. For years I have read about it and spoken of it’s importance to females and to the world but was yet to read her 7 part Biography. That soon changed as I spied the most beautiful edition in a bookstore and there began my love affair with this work. It is full of tragic events that no person should ever have had to live through but also heart wrenchingly hopeful. It is a social record of a young black girl growing up in the 1930’s in America. Maya Angelou is a wizard of imagery, language and has the one in a million ability to make you feel something so deeply that it breaks you a little but is equally able to put you back together in just one line. It breaks my heart that there are schools, parents and at one time countries that banned this book. It is important. Hugely, hugely important. Now to make time to read the next 6!

“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill,
of things unknown, but longed for still,
and his tune is heard on the distant hill,
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”

22. Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trilivas

Fiction/Chick Lit/Contemporary

This is the second book that I read as part of the World of Wanderlust Book Club. It is also one of two books that I will not waste anymore time writing about as I wasted too much time whilst reading it. Don’t bother. I have never read such fluffy, hypercritical shit in all my life.

23. Room by Emma Donoghue

Fiction/Contemporary

“Scared is what you’re feeling,” says Ma, “but brave is what you’re doing.”

My faith in literature and writing was restored with this hard hitting, beautiful nightmare of the book. I fell in love with it instantly. Which now I think about it is weird. There is little joy to be found in this novel but at it’s core is a book of love between a son and his mother. It is written from the perspective of a 5 year old boy which frustrated me for all of two minutes but Donoghue does such a good job of it that you just get absorbed into her story telling and all frustrations that you may have had melt away.  It has divided people and there are lots who love it and quite a few who don’t. It is a little different and for that and many other reasons I love it! I am yet to watch the movie. I just hope that Hollywood doesn’t fuck it up.

24. Tracks by Robyn Davidson

Non-Fiction/Travel/Autobiography/Adventure

Book recommendation blog Tracks

“The two important things that I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision.”

The third book read for the World of Wanderlust book club and I enjoyed this one a hell of a lot more than I did the last. This appealed to the adventurer and the nomad that lurks just beneath my surface. Robyn Davidson is the badass who trekked 1,700 miles across Australia’s outback with 4 camels in the 1970s. She is a gifted storyteller and I fell into her tale immediately. It left me inspired and full of awe. I loved reading her views on feminism from such a different time and location to my own as I sit here typing this just outside of London…but they also shockingly still relevant today. Most of all I enjoyed learning about a little of the Aboriginal history through her journey and those that she meets. It is something that I am interested to learn more about. I am yet to see the movie…I do love a good book to movie. I was little disappointed with her open contempt for anyone interested in her journey. I felt a little tricked- like she invited me to read her story and then accused me of voyeurism, I was left with the feeling that this book was written out of obligation to some sponsor more than a desire to share her experience with the world. I would still very much recommend it for the tale that she has to tell.

25. How To Be Single by Liz Tuccillo

Fiction/Contemporary/Chick Lit/Romance

“Didn’t you hear about the study that came out of England? The smarter you are, the less likely you are of getting married. The dumb girls are getting the guys.’

God only knows what inspired me to read this book and is the second of the two books that I will not bore myself to write about. Do not read it…maybe just wait to watch the movie?

26. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Fiction/Historical/Cultural

“Some people are nice and if you talk to them properly, they can be even nicer”

I don’t know why but sometimes I just refuse to jump onto the bandwagon with certain books, films, beauty products…I mean I am still yet to see Frozen! Brooklyn was one of these things. I heard so many people rave about it and so many glowing reviews that I was like nahhhh…i’ll pass. Then my mum read it and then made me sit down to read it after her and I am so glad that she did as I absolutely adored it and now can’t wait to see the film. It is such a simple, sweet story and unlike any of the books that I have read above. It was also perfect to read after How To Be Single as it restored my faith in human beings a little! It follows an Irish young woman make the move to America in the fifties and how she deals with homesickness, love and family. I read this in two days and couldn’t seem to put it down. I think that it would be a good one to take on holiday with you.

27. How To Build A Girl by Catlin Moran

Fiction/Young Adult/ Humour/Feminism

“I am getting incredibly high on a single, astounding fact: that it’s always sunny above the clouds. Always. That every day on earth—every day I have ever had—was secretly sunny, after all.”

Book 27! And what a great one it was! I like to sit and sometimes think that Catlin Moran is my best friend and imagine all the shit that we would get up to together! I think that is why I enjoyed How To Build A Girl. I also loved it because beyond the humour and zaniness, there is such a raw empathy that took me straight back to the woes and troubles, fun and mischief of being a teenage girl. We inhabit a society that is still largely built by and for middle-aged white men. It’s tough being an adolescent, tougher still being an adolescent girl. It’s one thing to say that impossible beauty standards in media damage teenage girls’ self-esteem and body image and another thing to understand what that actually means for how a girl thinks and feels and acts. There are plenty of books and other resources that help people recognize the former; here, Moran manages, at least sometimes, to communicate the latter.

It was above all entertaining in a vulgar, rude and very British way. Which I just bloody adore!

So there you have it by most current reads. Have you read any of them, if so, what did you think? Are there any books that you would recommend? Let me know below you lovely people.

Also congratulations if you made it to the bottom of this 3000+ word post. I just can’t keep them short. I have too many words inside of me.

 

 

 

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14 Comments

  1. April 11, 2016 / 9:35 am

    This was actually really helpful.

    I have been really wanting to read Finding Audrey but have yet to buy it. That’s pretty amazing that you manage to read 27 books so far. Good on you!

    http://jesandbleu.com

    • April 11, 2016 / 2:13 pm

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m so glad that you found it helpful! I tend to read whenever I have spare time and as a teacher it helps having a lot of holidays too! What are you reading at the moment?

      Sophie x

  2. April 11, 2016 / 3:53 pm

    All the light that we can not see, I think I deffo have to read this now. Thank you for writing about this. We are all completely beside ourselves- would you say this is a sad/distressing book? I have always been passionate about animal welfare so would probably like to read this also after reading your article. X

    http://www.sopherina.co.uk

    • April 11, 2016 / 4:23 pm

      Hi, We are All completely beside ourselves didn’t make me cry as lots of books do but it did make me angry! I would give it a read. Especially if you are interested in animal rights and welfare!

      Sophie xx

  3. April 12, 2016 / 4:02 am

    i am searching for new books! thanks! x

    jess x | wellwellgirls.blogspot.com

  4. April 12, 2016 / 10:15 am

    I love books, unfortunately I haven’t had the time to read as much as I use to. I do listen to audio books in the car though. Bookmarking this post for future reference!

    Happy early birthday!
    xoxo
    Serein
    http://sereinwu.com

  5. April 12, 2016 / 4:14 pm

    I will have to add a few of these books to my list!! Room and Brooklyn are already on it, I saw both movies recently (both were really wonderful!) and I’ve been meaning to read the books!

    xx Chelsea
    http://www.organizedmessblog.com

    • April 12, 2016 / 4:17 pm

      I’m watching Brooklyn tonight! I have only heard good things about the film. Can’t wait to watch Room as well!

      Sophie xx

  6. April 14, 2016 / 11:37 am

    I’m in the middle of reading “Room” myself! x

  7. April 14, 2016 / 7:32 pm

    Sounds like I should get on the Lena Dunham bandwagon since all her recommended books are so popular. :]

    // ▲ itsCarmen.com ▲

  8. April 15, 2016 / 3:43 pm

    I’ve got a copy of The Room which I blagged during World Book Day a couple of years back. It’s been sitting on my bookcase since – think I need to dust it off and give it a go! I love Miranda July, so I’m adding that book to my wishlist and you recommended All the Light We Cannot See so highly that I have to add that too!

  9. April 15, 2016 / 7:42 pm

    I totally agree with you on All the Light We Cannot See, holy moly that was a tear jerker, huh? It was absolutely haunting and perfect.

    Thanks for the rest of the list, I was torn between a few titles, and now have a better sense of what to stay clear of.

    — Dara // http://www.peoniesandhoneybees.com

  10. April 16, 2016 / 9:46 am

    Oh it’s so nice to see a post about books and written by someone who shares my book love! How to be single sounds hilarious – I kind of want to read it just to see how bad it is! xx

    Sam // Samantha Betteridge

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