Reading Diary Spring 19

Most days I watch BookTube, which is shorthand for the world of book review channels on YouTube.  Regular features usually include monthly wrap-ups, TBRs (books To Be Read) and reading vlogs. These people read in excess of 100 a books a year but once you let go of any inadequacy this may bring up, it’s an entertaining way to get recommendations.  This is YouTube so there are a lot of young people on there only reading YA so you may need to hunt a bit to find someone that clicks wit you. If you’re interested, try putting one of your favourite books into the Search box to find channels that may suit your tastes.

Like our own fumiverse, it’s generally a very warm and welcoming community.

Now, here is my own meagre selection of books read over the last month and a half or so…

 

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

“Because,” said Thor, “when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.”

I knew very little about Norse mythology so felt rather intimidated by this book. I needn’t have been. Neil Gaiman makes it extremely accessible by telling these tales in the form of short stories with a fair amount of humour. He was fascinated by these myths as a boy and I can see why because they mostly revolve around the adventures of the Gods Odin, Thor and Loki. I would have liked to know more about the Goddesses but they are mostly bit players who are usually treated as bargaining chips (not that I’m blaming that on Gaiman of course). The story I was really taken with was the final one concerning Ragnarok – the Norse version of Armageddon – which was gripping. Overall though, Norse Mythology didn’t capture my heart and make me want to seek out more, like the Greek myths, but it was an enjoyable read and I was very happy to expand my knowledge of them. 3.5/5

 

NorseMythology_Hardback_1473940163

 

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

Why couldn’t everything smell of warm fur and saltwater and fresh seaweed popping in the fire? Then the world would be perfect.

I tore through this book. Probably because it contains a lot of my favourite things in literature: lyrical writing, interesting female protagonists,  a circus, queerness, a fairytale-like world and heaps of atmosphere. In The Gracekeepers the planet has become mostly submerged by water which, over time, has caused a divide between ‘damplings’ who live on the sea and ‘landlockers’ who live on the few remaining archipelagoes. North lives and works on a circus ship while Callanish is a gracekeeper; someone who performs burials at sea. Both young women are isolated (one physically but both emotionally) and they both have something they want to keep secret. I was totally absorbed by the story which was inspired in part by Scottish myths and folklore. 5/5

 

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The Nakano Thrift Store by Hiromi Kawakami

“There are plenty of people in the world I don’t dislike, some of whom I almost like; on the other hand, I almost hate some of those whom I don’t dislike, too. But how many people did I truly love?”

I wanted to read more Japanese fiction after loving Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. This has a touch of the melancholy of that book but there are many amusing moments throughout. Hiromi is a young woman working in The Nakano Thrift Store in Tokyo. The story follows her interactions with the eccentric owner, colleagues and customers. It’s not a page-turner but I was captivated by Hiromi’s endearingly awkward relationship with co-worker, Takeo. After a violent childhood incident, Takeo finds it hard to connect with people while Hiromi struggles to navigate her own emotions. There is no grand plot and it was a bit too slow-moving for me at times, but the quirkiness and insights into Japanese daily life and culture kept me interested. A solid 3/5

 

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Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

“Believing that something is wrong with us is a deep and tenacious suffering,”

I came to this book through other personal growth books I’ve been reading of late from Self-Compassion by Kristen Neff to Frazzled by Ruby Wax. It seemed complementary because its concept combines self-compassion with mindfulness. It also has a grounding in Buddhism. Tara Brach is a clinical psychologist and meditation teacher, so the book includes many client case studies (a few too many for me) and guided mediations. While this didn’t have the impact on me that Neff’s book did, it was soothing and reinforced the need for me not berate myself for not being able to push myself as hard as others in areas where I struggle. The introduction to lovingkindness meditation was also beneficial as I incorporated it into my own practice.  3.5/5

 

radical

 

What have you been reading this spring? Any recommendations?

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10 Comments

Filed under Book Review

10 responses to “Reading Diary Spring 19

  1. Who could not be drawn to a fictional world featuring ‘damplings’ and ‘landlockers’? Fantastic. And I speak as someone who generally only likes realism in novels. I admire you for being so adventurous in your choices: Japan, Norse Mythology, self-help.

    I have just finished reading A Dark Dividing by Sarah Rayne, a local writer of psychological thrillers, in whose work I had dabbled before I realised she lived down the road…! This one is additionally both ghostly and partly historical. Now absorbed in The Dare, which is what I now know to be termed in the publishing world as a ‘police procedural’ novel, also by a local writer, Carol Wyer.

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    • V, it’s quite funny because the tale as to why the world ended up flooded
      like is that is the greed of the bankers(!).
      I try and be a bit varied but it does mostly skew fantasy/self-help. Everyone has their own preferences though. I wish I had the stomach for crime, thrillers and ‘police procedurals’. I might be able to manage A Dark Dividing though as it has historical and ghostly elements. How nice to read books written by people you know locally.

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  2. Matty

    I’ve just read Song for Achilles and now reading Circe. Both were recomended on another blog, but I cant remember which one.

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  3. Hayley

    Hi Tara
    I completely missed this, only just seen it! I love the book posts and the Gracekeepers is definitely going on the tbr list. I’ve just got Circe and absolutely loving it, I can’t put it down. Before that I’ve been reading gentle books like the enchanted April, diary of a provincial lady and the Cazalets saga which are a bit similar… pre war middle class life stories. I don’t like anything too out there! I read The Power and found it horrific!

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    • matty1649

      I’m just finishing Circe. I really liked it. Same with Song of Achilles. Have you read that one ?

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      • Hayley

        I haven’t but it’s next on the list..I love how she’s rewritten the Greek myths and the writing in Circe is so evocative. I’m trying to slow down reading it as I’m half way through already!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Hayley,

      I should say I have a high tolerance for weird and The Gracekeepers is pretty out there. If you have the Kindle app, I’d recommend downloading a sample first.

      Very happy to see all this love for Circe. It’s a fantastic book and she is such a talented writer.

      I thought over reading The Power but think it would be too much for me.

      Like

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