Look, I don’t know how this has happened either, but, apparently, I have read 33 books this month. It seems ridiculous to me because I have actually done LOADS of work this month too, as well as, far more importantly, watching all of Nashville season 4. So maybe I have been reading in my sleep or something. Anyway, here’s my March reading:
- Everywoman: One Woman’s Truth About Speaking the Truth by Jess Phillips
Phillips is the MP for Birmingham Yardley, a staunch feminist and a general legend, if this book is anything to go by. This is part-memoir, part-manifesto, and it’s both entertaining and inspiring.
- Who Runs the World? by Virginia Bergin
I had really high hopes for this YA novel about a future society in which men have almost been wiped out by a virus, but there were too many missteps. It’s an interesting idea, but not one that’s terribly well-executed.
- March Book 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
My mind has been completely blown by this trilogy of graphic novels about the Civil Rights movement. I can’t recommend these books enough.
- Letters from Medea by Salma Deera
This poetry collection was surprisingly good – I only say “surprising” because I’ve come to really hate modern poetry without punctuation – and I particularly liked the way the Medea myth was interwoven into the poems. It’s worth reading.
- Shrill by Lindy West
I officially love Lindy West. This collection of essays about being fat, online trolling, rape culture and being a socially inept teenager was both entertaining and touching. I loved it.
- Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
What was wrong with this book? I am still deeply disturbed. This is in part because I have clearly got it mixed up with another graphic novel and was not prepared for super-creepy murder stories. It was really good. I was just not expecting to need to sleep with the light on after reading it.
- The Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerney
A sequel to McInerney’s debut, Baileys Prize-winning The Glorious Heresies, this follows Ryan, the young drug dealer from the first book. It’s as gritty as its predecessor, completely absorbing you into the dark underbelly of the Cork drugs scene.
- Alpha: Abiidjan – Gare du Nord by Bessora and Barroux
This is a brilliant picture book/graphic novel about a man trying to make his way illegally from Cote d’Ivoire to Paris to find his family. It’s really harrowing, with the simplicity of the language and illustrations completely contrasting with the detailed and horrific depiction of a refugee’s journey.
- The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
This book annoyed me almost intolerably for the first 200 pages, and then got really intriguing towards the end. The story of a teen with amnesia, who has to write reminders on her arms in order to function, it’s massively unrealistic and bears a lot of similarities to another YA novel (which I won’t name because that would be a massive spoiler). The ending was intriguing, but probably not worth the frustration of the rest of it.
- Selected Poems by Langston Hughes
Although I have now come to the conclusion that reading selected poems is not actually the best way to experience a poet’s work, I enjoyed this collection; Hughes’ poems deal with big issues of race and poverty in an accessible way. His language seems really simple but conveys far deeper emotions.
- The Bird’s Nest by Shirley Jackson
This was completely nuts and I really liked it. It’s about a young woman who finds her identity fracturing into multiple, competing personalities, with the narrative broken up into different versions of Elizabeth, as well as the voice of her doctor and aunt. It’s weird but cool, like all Jackson’s writing.
- The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
I don’t know why I’d never read this before, as it’s a children’s classic and I spent my formative years immersed in them. I would have liked more of the wolves that have overrun England in this alternate version of history, but the main story of mean relatives and children escaping them was fun.
- Reader, I Married Him, edited by Tracy Chevalier
This collection of short stories is based on Jane Eyre, although some of the stories are so loosely connected that they basically bear no relevance at all. I did like some of the stories (especially Audrey Niffenegger’s) but the collection as a whole didn’t do much for me.
- The Mare by Mary Gaitskill
From the Baileys Prize long-list, this is about a Dominican girl from Brooklyn and the white, privileged woman with whom she forms a precarious relationship. It’s a really absorbing book.
- Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
I loved this graphic novel; it’s hilarious and the characters are all brilliant.
- Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
Another really good read, this one’s about a woman who moves back in with her parents to help care for her father, who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s.
- American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Focusing on immigration and a young girl coming to Detroit from Haiti, this showed an interesting clash of cultures although was a bit more drugs-and-shouting than I had anticipated.
- Little Deaths by Emma Flint
Another Baileys Prize long-list book, I enjoyed this although it’s quite a harrowing read. It’s about the murder of two young children and the police investigation into their mother.
- The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
More Baileys fun. This is quite a gentle book about two elderly women who hate each other, one of whom is black and the other is white. It’s set in South Africa so the idea of race is always in the background, but it’s mainly about the two characters. I liked it.
- King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard
It turns out this isn’t the end of a trilogy but the third in an ongoing series. I am sad about this. I enjoyed this a lot more than Glass Sword, but was kind of ready for it all to be over.
- The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
This was fun and charming. It’s set in 1987 and is about a computer game-obsessed teenage boy and his mission to get his hands on a copy of Playboy.
- Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh
As with her novel, Eileen, Moshfegh has constructed characters and situations which range from unpleasant to completely reprehensible. This collection of short stories is brilliant, but you may feel like you need a shower after reading.
- Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
I love Anna Kendrick and wasn’t disappointed with her memoir; her stories of her childhood on Broadway and general social awkwardness made me want to be her friend even more than usual.
- Who Let the Gods Out? by Maz Evans
This kids’ book about a boy who inadvertently gets mixed up with Greek mythology was very clever and funny. I’ll be recommending it to the younger kids I teach.
- The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain
Another Baileys Prize longlist book, this is about a boy whose father died helping Jews in World War II and his relationship with his mother. It’s one of those books people’s mums like. Actually I am a person’s mum. Sometimes I forget that.
- Nasty Women by 404 Ink
This collection of essays about different aspects of women’s lives in 2017 was really engaging and interesting. I especially liked the essay about Courtney Love because she is awesome.
- The Lights of Pointe-Noire by Alain Mabanckou
My obsession with Alain Mabanckou continues. This is a memoir about his return to the Republic of Congo after fifteen years away. Unlike his novels, it uses punctuation. It’s a fascinating study of his family and how his home changed during his absence.
- The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas
I really liked this YA novel about a teen with Asperger’s Syndrome; that’s not the main part of the plot, which was also refreshing. Grace, the main character, is really endearing.
- The Dark Circle by Linda Grant
More Baileys longlist reading here. I didn’t really know anything about this 1950s set novel about twins recovering from TB in a sanatorium in Kent, but I actually really enjoyed it.
- Midwinter by Fiona Melrose
Guess what: this is another Baileys book. It’s beautifully written but really plodding and dull. If it wins, I will not be pleased.
- Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli
This collection of tales about inspirational real life women is officially my favourite thing ever. It’s ridiculously beautiful and has given my four year old daughter her own feminist awakening. I am in love with it.
- The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill
I finished this a few minutes before completing this list and I am still bathed in a warm glow from its gorgeousness. It’s quite reminiscent of Angela Carter’s Wise Children and, although it’s rough going at times (like, on the first page, for one), it’s an extraordinary book. Easily my favourite Baileys longlistee at this point.
Enough of this madness. Have you read any of these? Have I made you want to?