The beginning of May did not offer much hope for reading. I felt like I was barely scraping through, hardly picking up anything. But something changed and it ended up being a very big month for reading, which I loved. It really is such a big part of my life. It’s one of the main ways I relax and recharge after work or study. It also inspires me to write something of my own.
I read three non-fiction works this month One poetry book and two memoirs. Astrid Lorange’s small collection, Labour and Other Poems, contained three poems. I didn’t dislike them, but not much stood out to me, resulting in 3 of 5 stars. Bri Lee’s memoir, Eggshell Skull, I gave 5 of 5 stars though! An Australian writer who has worked in the legal system, the content of her book is so important, brave, disturbing, and hopeful. The book begins in talking about seeing sexual assault cases from a work point of view, to then taking her own case to court. Gripping, engaging, heart breaking.
Similarly, the third memoir I read was Consent (Vanessa Springora), which I didn’t give a star rating. This is because the book is very matter of fact and so disturbing that I felt like if I rated it, it would be either rating the writing, which doesn’t apply to such straight-forward storytelling, or about the content, which is so disgusting I can’t give it any stars in good conscience. In short, Vanessa is a teenager who is in a ‘relationship’ with a fifty-year-old man. It makes me feel sick that he has never had to face the consequences of his actions, even though people knew about it. Vanessa’s school friends and teachers knew, her parents knew, her parents’ friends knew, even the police knew but didn’t investigate enough to press charges. I did not enjoy this book at all, but it was an important one to read.
Four novels were also consumed this month. I enjoyed reading them after such intense non-fiction and was not disappointed by their quality.
The Road Trip (Beth O’Leary) I gave 4 stars. What could have been a boring, predictable book, O’Leary has turned into an engaging, funny, and heartfelt story about two exes. The reader finds out how they met, why they broke up, and how they are two years later in chapters that flip between two point of views as well as the past and present. This made the book unputdownable as I had to find out what happened. In my opinion, this book was much better than The Flatshare, O Leary’s first novel.
The Mothers (Brit Bennett) was another 4 star book. It wasn’t enjoyable, but it was well written and captivating. I had a lot of sympathy for Nadia, the protagonist, and while I didn’t agree with most of her choices, there was something about her that kept me rooting for goodness in her life. Overall, a thoughtful, beautiful book, though one that I can’t say I enjoyed.
It Ends with Us (Colleen Hoover) was also 4 stars, though much heavier than I was expecting based on the synopsis. The synopsis makes this sound like a light romance, a love triangle. It makes it sound like merely a matter of thinking back to the past and living in the present. But it’s so much more than that. I can’t say much without giving anything away, but Colleen Hoover has handled the themes incredibly well, and I admire her for writing this book, though I don’t know that I can recommend it due to the heavy content.
The final novel I finished this month was The Other Bennet Sister (Janice Hadlow) which I gave 5 of 5 stars and is now one of my favourite books of all time! Which I knew when I was only halfway through the book. This is a story that follows Mary, the plain, quiet, forgettable middle sister from Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice. We begin the story before Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley are on the scene. We see how Mary slowly folds into herself through the constant criticisms of Mrs. Bennet and the lack of adoration from Mr. Bennet, who seems only to admire Lizzy. Mary is not ‘a beauty’ like her sisters and will more than likely be a burden on her family as she has no income or home of her own.
Once Elizabeth and Jane, Kitty and Lydia are married, the story jumps forward a few years and we see Mary staying with different family members and trying to navigate a world that has been cruel to her. I even cried a few times at how awfully Mary was treated and how her passions burned out and how she doesn’t believe in herself. I won’t spoil things, but Mary’s redemption and growth were so perfectly shown in this novel. I celebrated and rooted for Mary on every page as she comes into her own and learns to speak up and like herself. This story brought up so many emotions! The ending is beautiful and 100% worth the rocky ride it takes to get there. Janice Hadlow has done Jane Austen proud, I think.
Wow, what a month. Do I say that every time? It seems like I start every month with low expectations but always manage to read more pages than I thought I would.