March was a very satisfying reading month for me – I read predominantly 4 or 5 star reads (with one DNF & one 3 star read).
Here’s what I read in March 2018:
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (fiction), The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (popular science), A Scattering by Christopher Reid (poetry), Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (modern classic), The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (YA), The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (graphic novel), Between the World and Me (memoir/american history/politics) & Bark (short stories).
It’s so hard to pick only 2 in this section this month as I basically want to recommend everything! Nevertheless, here are my honourable mentions for March.
First up is A Scattering by Christopher Reid, a poetry collection documenting the death of the poet’s wife and his subsequent grief. I found out about this on the radio 4 programme A Good Read, which I’d highly recommend to everyone by the way (you can listen to it online, via podcast or on radio 4 on Tuesdays between half 4 and 5). I love A Good Read. It’s presented by Harriet Gilbert and each episode has two guests. All three people suggest a book on the programme and they spend about ten minutes on each book discussing it. On this particular episode Harriet recommended A Scattering and all three guests loved it (a rare occurrence on A Good Read).
Intrigued, I read it one morning and adored it. Given the subject matter, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that these poems are heartbreaking. The collection is split in to four parts, the first is set in Crete whilst his wife is ill, the second his wife is in a hospice just before she dies and the third and fourth detail the aftermath of her death. This is an extremely moving, devastating collection that details so faultlessly what it is to lose someone.
Next up is Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. I’ve never read any James Baldwin before and I fell in love with this. It’s a very slight book, and completely not what I was expecting. James Baldwin was a black American gay man, a novelist and non fiction writer, he often wrote about race relations in America. I knew that this novel was a classic in LGBTQ literature but I had no idea that the main characters are all white, so that was a surprise for me as I assumed that there would be people of colour as Baldwin was such a prolific race relations writer. The novel documents the tragic relationship of David, an American, and Giovanni, an Italian, both living in Paris. When the novel opens David is engaged to a woman, and is clearly repressing his sexuality. The woman in question, Hella, is travelling at the start of the novel and is absent. When she comes back David makes a terrible decision leading to the tragic downfall of Giovanni. It’s an extremely well written book, and is full of acute observations of repressed sexuality.
This month’s spotlight is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
This book looks at the life of Henrietta Lacks a woman who died in the 50s of cancer when she was only 31. Whilst she was in hospital a doctor took some of her cancer cells (without her or her family’s knowledge!) and grew them in culture and the cells are still alive today. Henrietta was a black woman and though her cells (known as HeLa) have helped with a lot of cancer research, the woman behind the cells was largely unknown. This book spans a lot of non-fiction genres, which is perhaps why I found it so fascinating. It’s popular science but has a real human interest story at its heart. Issues of medical ethics as well as race relations are intertwined with the science behind Henrietta’s invaluable cells. An utterly absorbing read that I urge everyone to pick up.
That’s all for my March Wrap Up. Happy reading!