January 2017 reading round-up


This month had some pretty big ups and downs. I had a lovely birthday. I successfully managed to run three times every week. We had a fantastic weekend in London, looking at art and watching the stage show Lazarus.

I have also despaired at the news even more than usual. On Monday evening I joined thousands on College Green in Bristol protesting against the US “Muslim ban”. These really do feel like dark scary times but I have to hope that continuing to raise my voice against injustice helps.

To distract myself from world affairs, I’ve managed to read a decent amount and I’ve also watched a lot of films. I thought La La Land was a lot of fun in the first half, then kinda bittersweet. Not the best film ever but very good nonetheless. Plus Tim and I have ploughed our way through almost four whole seasons of Dexter. (Speaking of which: has anyone read the book it’s based on, Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay? Would I like it?)

Here’s to February, hints of early spring and escaping into books! In the US February is Black History Month but in the UK it’s LGBT History Month (we do black history in October) so I’ll be choosing some reading based on that. What are your February reading plans?

Books read

The Girl With All the Gifts by M R Carey
Melanie lives in a small locked cell. Each day she is strapped to a wheelchair by soldiers and wheeled to a classroom. She loves to learn and she loves Miss Justineau, her favourite teacher. But why is she here, living like this? This is an entertaining piece of young adult sci-fi, though lacking in the descriptions.

Six Lies by Ben Adams
This novel might best be described as lad lit. It opens with a letter from a mother to a son, a “now I’m dead I have something to tell you” type letter. Dave is still in love with the wife who left him two years ago for a librarian, and he has a plan to get her back. Now he also has family secrets to unearth. This was an easy read but Dave was an irritating man-baby of a character.

A Jealous Ghost by A N Wilson
When Sallie, an American student in London writing her PhD on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, takes a summer job looking after two young children in a country house with neither parent around – just like in The Turn of the Screw – it seems like fate. Events get strange, as do Sallie’s reactions to the world around her. This is a scary story that unfortunately had too much literary analysis of Henry James to quite work for me.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
It’s 1964 in South Carolina and Lily is 14 when her black housekeeper Rosaleen goes to register to vote and instead is beaten by racist thugs then thrown in jail. Lily’s bully of a father refuses to bail Rosaleen out and tells Lily something shocking about her dead mother that she doesn’t want to believe, so she decides to sneak Rosaleen out and run away. The pair wind up living with an eccentric trio of black bee-keeping sisters. This is beautifully written, even if it is a slightly over-sweetened version of reality.

The Dark Side of Technology by Peter Townsend
I thought it was about time I picked up another popular-science book, but I did not pick well. I’m reviewing this elsewhere so I won’t say much here, but I was not impressed.

Plus some comics…