So I’m finally getting round to my January reading Wrap Up. Very late I know. My February Wrap Up will not be as tardy I promise (maybe).
In January I managed to read (or finish, at least) 8 books. One of my personal reading goals this year is to keep my reading varied, so I’m aiming to read more poetry, more plays, more classics & more short story collections along with what I normally reach for (contemporary fiction with the odd non-fiction thrown in.)
So without further ado, here is what I read in January 2018.
From bottom to top: Another Time by W. H. Auden (poetry), Talking to My Daughter About the Economy: A Brief History of Capitalism by Yanis Varoufakis (non-fiction – economics), The American Lover by Rose Tremain (short stories), The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (historical fiction), The Accidental by Ali Smith (fiction), Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (fiction), The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (classic) & Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind (modern classic).
Before I get to the book I’d like to spotlight, I’d first like to highlight these 2 honourable mentions. I gave both of these books 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
First up, there’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I wasn’t sure what to make of this at first – the cover and marketing makes it seem like it should belong to the romance genre, something I don’t tend to go for – but it’s a lot darker than that. It follows the life of Eleanor Oliphant a young woman who’s recently turned 30, who does the same thing day in day out – she eats the same thing for lunch and dinner every day, has an alcohol problem and doesn’t speak to anyone from the moment she gets home on a Friday night to the following Monday morning. Then one day when she’s taking a walk with a new colleague she witnesses an elderly man take a fall, and her life begins to change as she allows people in to her world. Really, I think, this novel is about loneliness. It deals with mental health issues, trauma and the difficulties of navigating friendships – all heavy topics that Honeyman juxtaposes effortlessly with lightness and humour. A very funny novel, with a lot of heart.
Next up is The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I’ve actually been reading this since November – it has taken me a while but it was so worth it. This classic is long but don’t let that put you off. This book has so many twists and turns – you can really tell it was written as part of a serial – things just keep happening! It’s told from different perspectives – a device never seen before according to Wilkie Collins! It starts off from Walter Hartright’s perspective when he sees a young woman, lost, dressed all in white asking for his help. He obliges, helping her get into a cab only to discover that she’s escaped from an insane asylum. Things just get weirder from hereon in. It’s a classic gothic mystery with bizarre characters that you’ll love and love to hate (Count Fosco, I’m looking at you). Would highly recommend.
The book I’d like to highlight out of all the things I’ve read this month and the one that I’d really urge everyone to pick up is The American Lover by Rose Tremain.
You know when you read an author for the first time and you just think, wait, where have they been all my reading life? Suddenly you have a strong desire to read everything they’ve ever written. I picked this up last year sometime in a charity shop, and it’s been lurking on my shelf for a while, waiting to be picked up. I’m so glad I did. This is a glorious short story collection. It has stories that make you cry with rich, fully realised characters and intertextuality (something I love! Anybody who’s a fan of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca will get a kick out of one particular story). Each story felt so complete and perfect. I would highly recommend this collection. Please read it. 5 out of 5 stars.