It’s another month when I read a lot and blogged little. It’s not that I lacked things to blog about – a fantastic open-air Manic Street Preachers gig, the Wonder Woman film, a wonderful holiday in Scotland – but I was too busy doing those things to stop and write about them!
My reading this month was…eclectic. The standout was The Girls by Emma Cline, a very creepy book about a girl who joins a dangerous cult in 1960s California. Cline manages to convey how these on-the-surface unappealing cult members reeled in the vulnerable with just the right words and promises. It still gives me shivers thinking about it!
I will share some more pics from my Scotland holiday once I’ve sorted through at least some of them, but for now, above is a very well named bookshop in Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull. It was a pretty good shop, too.
The Girls by Emma Cline
This book was loosely inspired by the Manson Family murders, and from its opening pages doesn’t shy away from the gruesomeness that entails. But it’s also a really well written portrait of an insecure 14-year-old girl, and of the middle-aged woman she grows into. It’s an upsetting book but also epitomises the ability of books to get you into the shoes of someone whose life you would otherwise never ever experience.
Thought X: Fictions and Hypotheticals edited by Rob Appleby and Ra Page
This is a collection of short stories and accompanying essays about thought experiments in physics and philosophy. The essays are by experienced academics while the stories are by experienced writers, so both are generally of high quality. There are some really interesting insights gained from this unusual perspective. I’ve reviewed this for Physics World magazine. I’ll add a link when the review is live.
The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore
In 1950s Yorkshire, newlywed Isabel is struggling with the loneliness of being in a new town, struggling to keep home while her doctor husband works long hours. One night an airman comes knocking at the window, but all the soldiers should be long gone, so who is this ghost of the recent past? And why does his presence stir up memories in Isabel of some other woman’s life? An entertaining gothic tale.
All Good Things by Emma Newman
The fifth, and presumably final, book of the Split Worlds, Newman’s fantasy series that I have been following since it only comprised of a handful of short stories posted online (including here on this blog). I have loved every book in the series and this is no exception.
You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day
This is a classic holiday read – the memoir of a cult celebrity. I discovered Felicia Day in Dr Horrible’s Singalong Blog, which was the best thing to come out of the Hollywood writers’ strike of 2008. I then went back and watched all of her web series The Guild and her own business Geek and Sundry was the first YouTube channel I subscribed to. So I was predisposed to like her. This isn’t a world-changing book, but it’s a smart, funny woman’s take on Hollywood, which is not to be sneezed at.
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
I loved Haig’s non-fiction Reasons to Stay Alive and have been intending to try his fiction. This is the tale of a man who doesn’t age like normal people. Tom is trying to navigate the rules and consequences of being different. I really enjoyed this book and I will review it more fully soon.
“A death” by Stephen King (New Yorker)
“A weekend upstate” by Amelia Kahaney (Lenny, 20 Dec 2016)
“No type of good” by Gabrielle Octavia Rucker (Lenny, 20 Dec 2016)
“Deaf and blind” by Laura Vapnyar (New Yorker)
“Martyrdom” by Joyce Carol Oates (Nightmare Magazine)
“The silkworms” by Janet Frame (Granta)
“Story of my life” by A L Kennedy (Granta)
“Black and white sky” by Tanith Lee (Nightmare Magazine)