What I’ve Been Reading Lately #6 – My Lockdown Library

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After 13 weeks of holiday, isolation and furlough, I went back to work in the bookshop in the middle of June. It was nice to be back, nice to get out of the house for a bit and to see other people. To have conversations and a small part of normality back. read more

What I’ve Been Reading Lately #5

 

It’s time for another round of “What has Lea been reading these last few months, which has prevented her from finding time to write something on the blog”. Joke aside, I have been reading some fantastic books this summer and I have liked them more than many other books I have read this year.

So with no further ado, here are the books that have taken up my time and captured my heart lately.

 

The Summer Book – Tove Jansson

Publisher’s description

For some reason I had never come across Tove Janssons fiction writing for adults before I started hearing about it here in England. I think it’s weird that even as a literature student in Denmark I never heard about her work outside The Moomins and after reading The Summer Book I think her writing deserves a much bigger place in our literary history.

The novel has been inspired by Jansson’s family and her memories of the times they spent on their small island in the Gulf of Finland, particularly of her niece Sophie and her mother who died shortly before she wrote it. It’s been written in a deceptively easy and simple language that I really liked, maybe because it feels typical of the kind of Scandinavian writing I’m familiar with but also because there was so much underlying humour in it. I loved the tenderness, the playfulness and the dignity she portrays in the relationship between Sophia and her grandmother, and her descriptions of how they act together in the landscape around them.

I really felt a connection with the book and the way it writes about something remembered, especially because it doesn’t feel like a romanticised kind of nostalgia but a kind that has more to do with appreciating and preserving the memory of people and places that have once been loved. That’s definitely something I can relate to.

 

 

The Woolgrover’s Companion – Joy Rhoades*

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The Books I Want to Read This Summer

 

Whenever I write about books on the blog I tend to write about books I have already read. I thought I would do it a little different this time, as with summer now in full bloom, I have been looking forward to pick up books that I have been saving all year to read or just recently discovered.

I definitely choose what books to read not only on my mood but also on the season, so I thought I’d put a little list together of the books I am planning and looking forward to read this summer.

 

The Peace Machine – Özgür Mumcu*

Publisher’s description

I’m taking a bit of a chance with this one. Described as a historical “Ottoman Steampunk” adventure, it’s not the kind of thing I would normally go for but when I read an interview with the author in The Guardian a few days ago, there was something about the way the book was described that really piqued my interest. It made me think of ‘The Vanished Futurist’ that I read and enjoyed last year but Mumcu’s book also seems to be its own interesting fictional mix of mystery, travel, futuristic technology and politics. So I’m really interested to see how I will find it and whether I should take my chances on something different a bit more often.

 

 

The Woolgrower’s Companion – Joy Rhoades*

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Books I Got For My Birthday


 

As I’m writing this it’s exactly one month since my birthday and although it ended up a little different from what I had planned it was a pretty good day. I originally wanted to spend the day in London going to the British Museum and my favourite bookshops but when I woke up that morning the now infamous Beast from the East was still hitting all over England and they were sending out warnings telling people to avoid using trains.

So instead we ended up spending a few cold hours in Canterbury that day but the next day we did manage to get to London for the bookshops, so in the end, I did not only get the day in London I had wished for but I practically had two birthdays! And like Daniel said to me when we stood in a freezingly cold street in Canterbury during a snowstorm, at least I’ll always remember this one.

 

I ended up with quite a big stack of books afterwards, so I thought I’d do a “little” birthday book haul.

 

 


A Pale View of Hills
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What I’ve Been Reading Lately #4

 

It’s been too long since I wrote one of these posts. The software on my computer even tells me that the last time I worked on this post was back in November. November! What with my new job, Christmas and a small promotion after New Year, it already feels like a life time ago.

So why I haven’t I finished it before now? It’s not because I have fallen out of love with books, it’s more the opposite. Ever since I swapped my job at the castle for the one in the bookshop, I have had so much more time to read. And read I have. So much and so frequently that my boyfriend exclaimed the other day “Are you nearly done with that one too? I can’t keep up with you anymore, every time I turn around you are reading a new one!”

So that, ladies and gentlemen, is why this post with books that I read last autumn is only being published now. But it is here now and that’s all that matters. Good books don’t suddenly go out of fashion anyway.

 


Brave New World
– Aldous Huxley

“Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress…

Huxley’s ingenious fantasy of the future sheds a blazing light on the present and is considered to be his most enduring masterpiece.”

After I read The Handmaid’s Tale last summer I felt a bit lost about what to read next. I was looking through the unread books on my shelf, not really feeling any of them, when I found my boyfriend’s copy of Brave New World with an introduction by Atwood herself and saw it as a sign to continue reading in the dystopian genre. I have read a lot of Dystopian and Speculative fiction classics and because it’s a genre I like a lot, especially when they critique capitalist societies, I was expecting to love the book.

I don’t know if it was the timing but something just felt off to me. Maybe it felt flat after the amazing voice of the narrator in The Handmaid’s Tale or maybe it was because I didn’t warm to any of the characters, as none of them developed or changed with their (incredibly selfish) actions. I know it’s been described as shocking but to me it felt a bit outdated or maybe even too realistic. It made me feel depressed about the way the characters end up leading their lives. Its best quality was that the old copy I was reading smelled amazing, of library books and yellowed pages but even for a booklover that feels quite a sad thing to say about a book.

 


Bleaker Island
– Nell Stevens
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