September 2020 reading round-up

Beckett in the woods
Beckett is a whirlwind when she gets outside and frequently tangled in her lead. Until she stops and lies down because she’s so tired suddenly.

Just as I was starting to feel comfortable with the idea of venturing out into the world more, it looks like we are on the verge of another lockdown. Having a dog gets us out of the house twice a day, but we won’t get to introduce her to most of our family and friends this year. Not in person, anyway. Beckett is still both awesome and exhausting, but a little less exhausting than she was.

Which is probably why this has been a better month on the reading front – six books! – and I even wrote one whole book review. I plan to write some mini reviews (more than the synopses below) so that I can finally put away the growing stack of read books on the arm of the sofa. I’m going to need to get them out of Beckett’s reach soon as she is expanding the list of things she tries to eat every day.

Historically, I am a fan of October. It’s the pretty leaves, blue skies end of autumn. For some reason I associate it with Daphne du Maurier, and I do have a few of her books still to read (she was prolific). But I am anxious about the COVID-19 situation getting worse as the days get shorter, colder and wetter.

I guess we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Books read

Giant Days Vol. 12 by John Allison and Max Sarin
I love this series so much. Best friends Esther, Susan and Daisy continue to navigate daily life at university – Daisy learns to drive, Susan gets to know her boyfriend’s brother and Esther solves crime. The last issue in this collection is drawn as well as written by John Allison, which is an excellent bonus for those of us who are fans of his webcomics.

Betty Shabazz: a Remarkable Story of Survival and Faith Before and After Malcolm X by Russell J Rickford
Another late-night read on my Kindle while trying to get the dog to sleep, I was starting to feel bad about how long it was taking me to read this autobiography until I saw on Goodreads that it’s over 600 pages. In fairness Dr Betty Shabazz lived a full and fascinating life that deserves every one of those pages. She was so much more than Mrs Malcolm X, though of course that marriage made her famous and opened the door for her to be an activist and ambassador.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
I hadn’t realised until I started it how much I needed this: a really good, entertaining, gripping novel that I devoured at speed. Queenie is a woman in her 20s who is dealing with some shit, but she doesn’t like to talk about it, preferring to obsess about men, sex and the state of her friendships. Even when her real problems – from racism to various other forms of abuse – are revealed, this is still a really enjoyable read.

Giant Days Vol. 13 by John Allison and Max Sarin
I swear this series just gets better. This volume opens with Esther at home in Tackleford (the setting of most of Allison’s webcomics, including Scary Go Round) trying to write her dissertation before the Easter break ends. Susan and McGraw go through some serious shit. This volume made me cry and it made me laugh out loud.

Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa
In this South African novella, junior doctor Masechaba was already dealing with racism and sexism in the workplace, working long hours in an underfunded hospital full of people suffering from the result of poverty, plus the loss of her beloved brother. Then she befriends a fellow doctor from Zimbabwe and her eyes are opened to the xenophobia that is rife and begins to become politicised. An excellent but tough read.

The Lovings: an Intimate Portrait by Grey Villet and Barbara Villet
In 1965, when Mildred and Richard Loving were in the midst of their court battle to not be imprisoned by the state of Virginia for being in an inter-racial marriage, photographer Grey Villet took a series of portraits of them and their everyday life. Grey’s wife Barbara provides written context for the photos.