August again has gone by so fast! Maybe it is the fact that I had a concussion and I have genuinely forgotten two weeks, or this year is flying by. I set a challenge to read a little more this month seeing as this summer has proven to be all work and illness, so hopefully, I am on track to reaching my 60 book goal…
I am trying to read more varied genres is proving difficult. But I have found some really great books in the process. Revisiting the classics, branching out to YA fiction, and trying literary fiction again.
After reading Tropic of Cancer I have started to organise my classics into my TBR pile, making September the month of dystopian fiction and existentialism.
This month I have read: 5 books amounting to 1812 pages. Not a bad contribution to my 2022 reading challenge! If you want to stay updated on my progress, add me on Goodreads!
Tropic of Cancer
Length: 318 pages
First Published: 1934
Tropic of Cancer is a combination autobiographical fictional work where Miller explores his life as a struggling writer in “bohemian squalor” in 1920s and 30s Paris. Some chapters follow incidents involving Miller’s real life friends and acquaintances, while other chapters are written in a stream-of-consciousness style.
I love a good dry commentary on the bland reality of existentialism. A commentary of how life actually is in terms of juxtapositioning, human nature against societal virtue. For that, this book itched my brain in the best way. It is raw and reckless in some places, disjointed and overwhelming – but that’s what I love about it. It is not everyone’s cup of tea for sure so bare that in mind if this is on your read list.
After reading this book I can see how his writing has influenced other writers of the twentieth century, including one of my top 5 writers, George Orwell. The uncensored stream-of-consciousness style of writing really drags the reader into the character’s very thoughts. Personally, I love it. I can understand how this book does not reach expectations, however with many classics and older books there is a certain expectation built around them, even before you open the front cover. That in itself is another blog topic!
The Midnight Library
Length: 288 pages
First Published: 2020
Nora’s life has been going from bad to worse. Then at the stroke of midnight on her last day on earth, she finds herself transported to a library. There she is given the chance to undo her regrets and try out each of the other lives she might have lived.
Good old existentialism in a beautifully created novel. The concept is genius and the execution is fantastic. I love how it varies in chapter lengths and how by the end of the book it makes you feel like you were actually reading books from the midnight library!
Nora has a very relatable character for me. She has so much potential to do so much, but there is something always holding her back. From her environment to the people in her life – she has excuses to stop herself from committing to anything really great. I think that is why she works so well as the protagonist in this story as her library is overwhelmingly full of potential.
“The only way to learn is to live“The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
Beautiful World, Where Are You
Genre: Romance, Contemporary Literature
Length: 356 pages
First Published: 2021
Alice is a novelist. She meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a breakup and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young—but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, and they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, and they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?
This book took me maybe 4 months to actually finish. It is one of the books that you can put down and forget.
Contemporary fiction loses me 80% of the time and I had high hopes this one would not lose me…Unfortunately, it did make me lose interest and I did find myself avoiding finishing the book for a while. I do like writing. The characters lack some imagination and I stopped caring by the epilogue.
The formatting of this book worked well. The use of emails to tell what’s happening for the characters is a little bit modern-day “Pride and Prejudice” vibes, but in the context of the book being a modern-day commentary it works for both writer and reader.
I am getting a little tired of reading books with a romantic angle that dramatises or capitalises on toxic traits and red flags. Yes, a healthy relationship does not sell books – we as readers seem to devour the weird and downright abusive relationship romances. Take for instance 50 shades of grey, many of Collen Hoover’s books to name a couple of examples there. The fact that this is in a book that is supposed to be a commentary on real life with real people is in essence normalising the fact that relationships are not healthy and that is totally acceptable.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Length: 433 pages
First Published: 2019
The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?
The book started off bad. Not going to lie here it was not good, it was pretentious, and the characters were unlikable, but then it picked up. The second half went from a 3 star to a 5 star. Pip becomes more likable and seems to settle as a character, her friends actually become independent personalities too. This book is worth the read if you can get past the awkward start.
Good Girl, Bad Blood
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Length: 417 pages
First Published: 2020
After her EPQ project podcast goes viral, Pip finds herself sought after for mysteries and cold cases. One of her best friend’s brothers goes missing – the police are not concerned but his family is beside themselves. Pip decides she will help them leading to unraveling more secrets, lies, and scandals in her small sleepy village.
So good. In comparison to the previous series, this book is 5-star. It moves on in a very natural way and still has the same standard of thrill and character development. The ending is quite shocking and actually feels more realistic than many other thrillers.
It is nice to read a thriller/mystery where the protagonist is very much affected by what she has witnessed. It feels real in the way that it has not been played to extremes which is what we usually see. Really enjoyable, and very sensibly written, and can’t wait to read the next one!