The Monthly Round-Up: July

A really great idea I had was to write my monthly round-ups as I go along, so I’m not faced with the task of summing up 30+ books all in one go on the 30th. Sadly, this month I forgot my own brilliant idea, so was faced with the task of summing up 30+ books all in one go on the 30th. The Goodreads challenge total currently sits at 229/200.

 

  1. Rapture by Carol Ann Duffy
    I really liked this collection. I especially enjoyed reading it while sitting on the floor of the school library getting weird looks from students.
  2. Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green
    This amused me a lot. Although I’m not entirely sure all the representation is entirely PC, it’s got a lot of Adrian Mole about it and that’s obviously a good thing.
  3. We Shall Not All Sleep by Estep Nagy
    Interesting novel about two connected families who both have homes on a secluded, private island.
  4. A Change is Gonna Come by various authors
    There are some really good stories in here, especially Phoebe Roy’s and Patrice Lawrence’s. Overall, it’s an excellent collection.
  5. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
    I am usually far too snooty to read anything that has sold this many copies, but one of my students is writing about it for her coursework so I had to. It annoyed me a lot, then the last few chapters nearly gave me a breakdown.
  6. Restless Continent by Michael Wesley
    Don’t tell me you too don’t sit around reading books about the geopolitics of Asia.
  7. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
    LOVED this. Life-affirming, witty, real feminism for teenagers, filtered through a prism of Riot Grrrl and zine culture. It is all the things.
  8. Borne by Jeff Vandermeer
    Wild, crazy speculative sci-fi from the author of the Southern Reach trilogy. It’s brilliant. Review here.
  9. Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel
    This was a disappointment and I will now be avoiding all YA books in what I am referring to as the Dead Sibling genre.
  10. The Establishment (and How They Get Away With It) by Owen Jones
    As a champagne socialist myself, much of this was essential reading. Some of it was slightly ranty, obviously.
  11. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
    Verse novel about basketball-playing twin brothers. I liked it.
  12. Indigo Donut by Patrice Lawrence
    From the author of Orangeboy, a novel about a girl in care who witnessed the murder of her mother by her father as a small child. Overall it’s less bleak than that makes it sound.
  13. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
    Another brilliant July read; I am basically always here for dysfunctional families and this delivered that in spades.
  14. Negroland by Margo Jefferson
    I really liked the style of this autobiographical reflection on being black and middle-class. Jefferson’s perspective is very interesting.
  15. Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
    More YA circus fun. Loads of craziness. I enjoyed it a lot.
  16. How Much the Heart Can Hold by various authors
    Pretentious-sounding but pretty good collection of stories, each inspired by a different kind of love, with fancy Greek terms.
  17. The Ones That Disappeared by Zana Fraillon
    Initially intriguing but ultimately messy take on modern slavery and people trafficking. Review here.
  18. Another Fine Mess: America, Uganda and the War on Terror by Helen Epstein
    Fascinating study of Ugandan politics and US involvement in the region. Quite shocking, very well-explained.
  19. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
    Possibly the millionth time I’ve read this book, and doesn’t diminish with each reading.
  20. The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Heather Smith
    Odd little YA about a girl who runs away from her hoarder mother and finds a motley crew of 20-somethings who take her in. It’s good, but peculiar.
  21. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    I finally read it! I’ve been saving this for my holiday and it was worth it. A brilliant book, as expected. She’s a genius.
  22. Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls
    Fascinating and well-executed historical YA about Suffragettes.
  23. Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys by Viv Albertine
    Excellent memoir from the Slits’ guitarist, with great punk anecdotes.
  24. The Ascendance of Harley Quinn, ed. by Shelley Barba
    Excellent collection of academic essays about my favourite comic book character.
  25. Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah
    Slightly underwhelming story of a boy from Zanzibar and his family saga.
  26. How to Be Human by Paula Cocozza
    Incredibly weird book about a woman who gets romantically obsessed with a fox.
  27. The History of Bees by Maja Lunde
    Really compelling vision of a future without bees. An excellent surprise.
  28. My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
    Maybe the most disturbing book I’ve read this year; warped father/daughter relationship, abuse, strange survival skills. It’s excellent, but kind of horrifying.
  29. Because You Love to Hate Me, ed. by Ameriie
    Good short stories based on villains, with unnecessary commentary from BookTubers.
  30. Kompromat by Stanley Johnson
    Reasonably silly satire of 2016’s crazy political events. Dizzying array of characters, amusing caricatures.
  31. The Book of Etta by Meg Elison
    Sequel to The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, continuing the scary post-apocalyptic scenario in which most women have died or will because of a childbirth-related illness.
  32. The Glow of Fallen Stars by Kate Ling
    Sequel to The Loneliness of Distant Beings, which I loved. This one’s good too, following Seren and Dom as they try to start a new life on a strange planet.
  33. The Village by Nikita Lalwani
    Really disappointing in spite of an intriguing premise (an open prison in India inhabited by murderers and their families, which becomes the subject of a BBC documentary). An annoying book to end the month!

 

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The Monthly Round-Up: June

Because I am a ridiculous person, I set my Goodreads challenge at 200 this year, with the stupid aim of actually trying to complete it by halfway through the year. Don’t ask me why: I have no idea. Anyway, with June’s 33 books, I’ve got tantalisingly close with 198. Why couldn’t I just have read 2 more books this year? I will never get over the disappointment.

  1. A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe
    This YA about a girl who survived the sinking of a ship of migrants didn’t quite grab me; the magical realism confused the plot, which otherwise was very hard-hitting.
  2. Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
    Possibly too snarky even for me, which is really saying something.
  3. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
    I’ve read a few of these adaptations of Shakespeare plays for the Hogarth series; this was a generally light-hearted spin on The Taming of the Shrew.
  4. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
    This was inventive and wild; a teenage boy dealing with confusion over his sexuality at the same time as an apocalyptic invasion of giant bugs is a fairly original plot, I suppose. It used the word “horny” about 75 billion times though which annoyed me.
  5. David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music by Darryl W. Bullock
    Probably the best title I’ve seen all year; this is a chronicle of the lives and impact of LGBT artists, both well-known and obscure. It’s really fascinating.
  6. Rat Queens, Volume 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth by Kurtis Wiebe
    I enjoyed this even more than the first volume. I love the Rat Queens, the artwork, the language – it’s an awesome series.
  7. The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
    This has been on my Kindle for ages and I read it as part of my resolution to actually read the books I’ve accumulated. I liked it; it’s a sweet story about a man who collects lost things and the woman charged with reuniting them with their owners.
  8. Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle
    I loved The Accident Season so I was excited to read this and it didn’t disappoint. Fowley-Doyle writes in such a mesmerising and magical way, very like Alice Hoffman, and it works so beautifully.
  9. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
    This was far less serpent-based than I expected, and while I actually really hate snakes, this was a bit of a disappointment. There’s some nice character stuff and I enjoyed the Essex setting (being from that illustrious county myself) but it was a bit too slow-paced for me.
  10. Behind the Song edited by K.M. Walton
    A YA anthology of writing inspired by songs, I really liked parts of this, mainly the short stories. David Arnold is in it, so it’s a win.
  11. Troublemakers by Catherine Barter
    I enjoyed this YA novel about a teenage girl wrestling with her discoveries about her activist mother set against the backdrop of political tension in London. It’s an interesting and ambitious set of ideas for a YA novel and it works.
  12. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
    I liked this a lot; the mix of magical realism (doors that open into other countries) and all-too-real political conflict makes this a really special and intriguing book.
  13. Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge
    This is a really cool verse novel about a teenage boy who takes up poetry when mono forces him out of baseball for a while. I’m determined to teach this next year.
  14. Black Bazaar by Alain Mabanckou
    Much like Broken Glass by the same author, this follows a misfit in his encounters with a select bunch of weirdos. This time it’s set in Paris, but otherwise Mabanckou’s quirks remain.
  15. The Bombs that Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan
    Very topical (refugees, bullying governments) and something I’ll be adding to my ‘recommended reading’ lists for my students, but not a book that I loved.
  16. Macbeth on the Loose by Robert Walker
    It’s that weird time of year when I read a million things to come up with new ideas for next year’s teaching. This is a play about a school play of Macbeth. It’s quite clever but a bit too consciously school-y for me.
  17. Reading as Collective Action by Nicholas Hengen Fox
    A massively inspiring academic book about the idea of reading as a tactic for understanding or promoting social change; this is a brilliant and fascinating read.
  18. Free? Stories Celebrating Human Rights edited by Amnesty International
    My second collection of Amnesty-curated stories, this is for readers younger than the target audience of Here I Stand, and I’ll be using it at school next year. The writers cleverly interweave hard-hitting social commentary into stories which never seem hectoring or laden down with issues.
  19. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
    I was so disappointed with this; I found the story far too reminiscent of The Hunger Games, but far more boring. I can’t see myself continuing with the series, even though I’ve been told it gets better.
  20. Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed
    Disturbing and brilliant, this is a feminist dystopia in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale, set on a creepy island in a world that appears to have been otherwise destroyed. When I say “disturbing,” don’t assume I’m just over-using that word. I was, and am still, disturbed.
  21. Sally Heathcote: Suffragette by Mary M. Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot
    A graphic novel focusing on a real movement through the eyes of a fictional creation, this covers a lot of the rivalries between different branches of the campaign for female suffrage. It’s informative and interesting.
  22. Family Life by Akhil Sharma
    A brief but affecting story of a family that leaves India for the US, only to have their lives impacted by tragedy.
  23. A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
    The follow-up to The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, this is lovely and very character-driven; much like the first book, not much happens and it’s all about the characters.
  24. Noughts and Crosses (play version) adapted from Malorie Blackman’s novel by Dominic Cooke
    I was on the hunt for a topical and modern play for teaching year 9 next year, and I found it. I can’t remember why, but I didn’t really love the book when I read it a few years ago; I think, however, that my students will get a lot out of reading this.
  25. The Girls by Emma Cline
    What a massively over-hyped book! This was really dull. I was intrigued by the idea of the Manson Family-esque cult, but the story is told from the viewpoint of an annoying girl who’s barely involved, so it was all very disappointing.
  26. Dear Boy by Emily Berry
    Smart and sophisticated poetry with plenty of arch commentary on modern life. I liked this a lot.
  27. Our Dark Duet by V.E. Schwab
    I’m not really sure how I felt about this. It seemed to go on for a long time before a central plot emerged, and my engagement wasn’t helped by the fact that I’d inevitably forgotten what happened in the first book. I really like the world of Verity, but this didn’t quite live up to expectations.
  28. Search Party by George the Poet
    Once again, here I am reading interesting things in the hope of finding gems for inspiring my students from September, and this was another success. I need to listen to George’s performances of these poems, but even on the page, they’re virbant and hard-hitting. It’s a brilliant collection.
  29. Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
    A slightly weird YA book: a teenage girl writes to a man on death row in Texas, slowly revealing her role in a terrible accident. I didn’t quite connect with it; the idea is intriguing but the narrator is really immature and quite annoying.
  30. Moonrise by Sarah Crossan
    If there is one thing in life guaranteed to make me nearly cry, it’s a Sarah Crossan book. This is another verse novel; it’s about a boy whose brother is on death row in Texas (it is a weird coincidence that I read two books about this in quick succession – I’m not obsessed with death row or anything) and it’s predictably excellent. And heartbreaking.
  31. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
    This short classic about pioneers on the prairies reminded me a lot of Annie Proulx. I was, however, annoyed that Penguin have brought this one out in the pretty Pocket Classics range but not the other two books in the trilogy. This creates a dilemma.
  32. Rapture by Carol Ann Duffy
    I read this sitting on the floor in the school library and it’s lovely; I’ve been trying to slog through Duffy’s The Bees for ages and not got very far, but this collection is far more gorgeous and cohesive.
  33. No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein
    Really compelling explanation for Trump’s victory, the problems it represents and how it can be resisted. I’ve not read any Klein before but I’ll definitely be looking up her other books.

 

 

The Monthly Round-Up: May

Another month of reading is over and yet, somehow, I still have a million books to read. This could have something to do with how many I keep buying. I don’t know: there must be some logical explanation. Here’s what I read in May.

  1. Narcissism for Beginners by Martine McDonagh
    Catcher in the Rye– esque trip to the UK for privileged man-child with dubious background. It grew on me.
  2. The Circus by Olivia Levez
    I went a bit berserk requesting new YA titles on NetGalley a few weeks ago and reading this made me wish my past self had been a bit more discerning. Review here.
  3. The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle
    Continuing my recent obsession with verse novels, this is a YA read about a girl who campaigned against slavery in Cuba. It was rather beautiful.
  4. The Ice by Laline Paull
    I loved The Bees by Paull so I was all over requesting this on NetGalley but it was surprisingly boring. It is a testament to my unwillingness to abandon books that I actually finished it.
  5. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
    One of my favourite books of 2017 so far; my review’s here and you can buy the book now and make it a massive and gorgeous bestseller which should absolutely happen.
  6. Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste
    Continuing my African literary odyssey, this is set Ethiopia in 1974, as revolution begins to tear apart society. It’s a really enthralling and traumatic book: well worth reading.
  7. The Breaking of a Wave by Fabio Genovesi
    Something a little gentler, this is set in a small Tuscan town and follows the town’s inhabitants as they deal with tragedy. Weirdly, it’s also sweet and funny.
  8. Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon
    I’ve had this on my shelf for over a year and finally got to it in May. It was interesting enough, although all the Courtney Love shade was completely not needed.
  9. Augustown by Kei Miller
    This is brilliant: set in a Jamaican town and veering between odd past events and politically charged violence in the present, it’s an extraordinarily good book.
  10. Reaching for the Stars: Poems About Extraordinary Women by Jan Dean, Liz Brownlee and Michaela Morgan
    This was lovely; a collection of poems, aimed at younger readers, about the achievements of women and girls throughout history. It made me smile a lot and I immediately started buying copies for other people’s daughters. Here’s my review.
  11. The Road Through the Wall by Shirley Jackson
    My least favourite of Jackson’s novels, this plodding story of a bunch of interchangeable and annoying neighbours took a really long time to go anywhere, by which time I’d already lost interest.
  12. Mr Either/Or by Aaron Poochigan
    Not actually out until October, but look out for it then: this wildly entertaining verse novel follows an undercover agent hunting down an ancient and supernatural object and getting shot at a lot along the way. One of the most original things I’ve read this year.
  13. Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou
    My love of Mabanckou continues with this Man Booker International Prize longlisted story of an orphan whose life becomes more complicated when he escapes his orphanage and falls in with some ‘interesting’ crowds.
  14. Above Sugar Hill by Linda Mannheim
    Short stories set in a specific part of New York: I didn’t love this but it was okay.
  15. Release by Patrick Ness
    Predictably beautiful YA novel from the king of beautiful YA novels.
  16. Do What You Want edited by Ruby Tandoh and Leah Pritchard
    This is a zine focused on mental health. It looks gorgeous and is a fascinating read too; the approach is on highlighting mental illness and the ways in which people suffering from it can be supported.
  17. White Fur by Jardine Libaire
    I wasn’t sure about this to start with but I quickly fell in love with the Romeo and Juliet-influenced plot and class issues between the central couple. A really excellent read.
  18. Shopgirl by Steve Martin
    I read this because it’s the starter book for next month’s Six Degrees of Separation and really wish I hadn’t bothered. It was mercifully brief but just so annoyingly stereotypical with female and male characters alike that I couldn’t really enjoy it.
  19. A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom
    A decent YA read about a teenage girl struggling with her mental health. It took a really long time to grab my attention; I was hoping it would match up to Lindstrom’s Not If I See You First but my dreams were sadly shattered.
  20. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
    I read this for some wider knowledge of Williams’ work, as I’m teaching A Streetcar Named Desire for approximately the millionth time. This is another excellent play, although I’ve now watched the film too and the plot was so different that it annoyed me a lot.
  21. Plum by Hollie McNish
    McNish’s new collection of poetry is just as affecting and relatable as Nobody Told Me, but covers a wider range of experience, from young childhood to motherhood. McNish rules.
  22. Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar
    I loved this. It’s about a man who quite randomly becomes an astronaut, forced to leave behind his wife as well as the difficult legacy of his politically poisonuos father. It’s a brilliant mix of sci-fi and domestic drama.
  23. Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana
    I have mixed feelings about this. The stuff about the discovery of a new, Earth-like planet is really cool, but the adolescent drama is, oddly, a bit less convincing.
  24. Worth Dying For by Tim Marshall
    I loved Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography and, while this wasn’t quite as enthralling, it was extremely interesting and quite witty. Using flags and their origins as his starting point, Marshall provides a primer on many of the geopolitical issues that still rumble on. It’s really fascinating.
  25. Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Ness
    A YA verse novel about the son of an alcoholic rock star, this had some good moments but, overall, the verse was a little too straightforward for me.
  26. Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch
    I really enjoyed this graphic novel; the characters of the Rat Queens are all so cool and badass. I’m looking forward to picking up the next book.
  27. Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky
    A ridiculously beautiful book about the women who’ve made amazing scientific discoveries, I bought this to read with my daughter but the science was a little too complicated for me to explain to a pathologically curious 4 year old. Lovely for an older reader or someone less prone to showing up their mother’s scientific knowledge by asking “why?” every ten seconds though,
  28. The Bureau of Second Chances by Sheena Kalayil
    To begin with, I thought this wasn’t going to be my kind of thing at all; it’s about a widower who moves back to India from London after 30 years away, and the ways in which he establishes a new life there. It’s very, very gentle, but I found myself enjoying reading something nice for a change.
  29. Here I Stand, edited by Amnesty International UK
    An excellent collection of hard-hitting short stories on the subject of human rights: I really recommend this and I’ll be using it at school next year.
  30. Captain Marvel Volume 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick
    This is a fun and fast-moving graphic novel. I’d never encountered Captain Marvel before but I now love her.
  31. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
    Such a cute and lovely YA romance – not a genre I usually enjoy – and one which was exactly what I needed to read. Worthy of all the hype.
  32. The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
    This is an intriguing thriller-type book about a dad with a very shady past and a whole host of bullet wounds to show for it, and his daughter as they try to start a new, law-abiding life.
  33. Delusions of Gender: The Read Science Behind Sex Differences by Cordelia Fine
    I was fascinated by this study of myths about male and female brains, boys being better at maths and why children opt for gendered toys. It’s quite complex at times but largely accessible and often very witty.
  34. Godblind by Anna Stephens
    I wanted to read some grown-up fantasy and that’s what this is. The massive number of narrative viewpoints threw me a bit, but this is definitely a book for people who generally enjoy the fantasy genre.
  35. City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
    Some hardcore political YA with a backdrop of civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, this is quite a challenging read but a really worthwhile one.
  36. Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag
    Short but sweet: this India-set novel about a reasonably dysfunctional family is entertaining and interesting.

Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think?

The Monthly Round-Up: March

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
    I loved this graphic novel; it’s hilarious and the characters are all brilliant.
  16. Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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?