May 2016 reading round-up

(George Wharton Edwards, 1873)

In writing this post I was briefly convinced I was wrapping up June, not May. It must be the lovely weather we’re having. I’m glad I was wrong! This month we went to three gigs (Sound of the Sirens, the Heavy and the Dandy Warhols) and one play (The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary), had two weekends away visiting family and I still managed to read a lot. (Tim thinks I have more energy these days, since taking up running regularly. He might be on to something.)

I think May is a good month. It’s bookended by bank holidays; it’s warm even on wet days (I have had “Summer rain” by Belinda Carlisle stuck in my head far too often lately); the months of summer stretch out ahead full of promise. It’s also when the city really begins to be packed with far more things to do than we can get to. For instance, yesterday Bristol Old Vic had a huge street party to celebrate its 250th anniversary. It looked awesome, but we had a lawn to mow, pictures to hang, books to read, new music purchases to listen to. Chilled time at home is good too.

How was your May?

Books read

Spectacles by Sue Perkins
This autobiography of the funny lady off the telly was as amusing as expected but also peppered with sadder moments. Because life is.

Blood Harvest by SJ Bolton
An older crime novel by the author of one of my top books of 2015. When children’s bodies are found in a small moor-bound village it opens up new and old mysteries. An atmospheric read and creepy thriller.

The Vanishing Futurist by Charlotte Hobson
Historical fiction about an English girl who goes to Moscow in 1914 to work as a governess, only for the city to be embroiled in world war and then revolution. An insightful look at the attractions of Communism through the prism of one commune and one minor charismatic leader. Review to follow…

The British Museum Haiku edited by David Cobb
A beautiful book that uses Japanese artwork from the British Museum’s collection to illustrate haiku old and new. Every poem is given in English, transliterated Japanese and Japanese characters. The poems are sorted traditionally, by season, and at the back a short biography of every poet is provided.

A Passage to India by EM Forster
I finally read the classic novel about the racism inherent in colonialism. Set in a fictional Indian city, this is the tale of how a dubious accusation of assault sets British against Indian, but also the subtler battlelines that are drawn. I couldn’t quite decide if the novel itself was a touch racist or if Forster’s use of irony was off the chart!

I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura
A beautiful graphic novel about a teenage girl who is coping with dark times by convincing herself that she fights giants. Gorgeously told and incredibly moving.

Hawkeye, Vol. 5: All-New Hawkeye by Jeff Lemire and Ramón Pérez
The series continues under a new team. This time, Hawkeye Clint and Hawkeye Kate rescue some odd-looking children who may or may not be a super-weapon, and we also get flashbacks to Clint’s childhood in foster care and later the circus. Less funny than previous instalments.

Black Widow, Vol. 1: The Name of the Rose by Marjorie Liu and Daniel Acuña
A new series about the character we all wish Marvel would devote a film to properly. Well-crafted story that illuminates Black Widow’s past and personality, but lacking the greatness of some other recent Marvel series.

The Little Communist Who Never Smiled: a Novel by Lola Lafon
A novelisation of the early life of world-famous Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci. Using a journalistic style, Lafon uses real sources – articles, footage, interviews – and an imagined dialogue with Nadia to piece together her life from the age of 7, when she was picked for training by legendary gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi, to her defection to the US in 1989. Review to follow…

Giant Days, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 by John Allison (writer) and Lissa Treiman (illustrator)
I’ve been dipping in and out of Allison’s web comics for years, but now he finally has a successful ongoing series in print and it’s great. This is the story of three young women thrown together by the randomness of student housing in their first year at university, and their growing friendship. Daisy, Esther and Susan appear at first to be familiar stereotypes but they’re actually complex, loveably imperfect people with back stories, secrets and the occasional silly escapade. Very funny stuff.

Happy June!