In May I read 14 books. I think breaking out of my 12 books a month rut is worth a celebration, so lets crack out a graph!
Ah, life is much better with a cheery graph.
Apparently in May 2016 I read 15 books, so my 2017 self is a little annoyed, but there’s always June! (June 2016 Kat read 18 books, so lets see what Version 2017 can do).
In a startling turn of events, I read six books by a male author this month, which is actually almost half of my reading! (43%)
I had to google JP Delaney to find out his gender, and came across this fun interview, in which he’s asked:
Your characters are very well-written. Did you find it challenging to write from a female point of view?
My two lead characters are women, but they’re middle-class, educated women – in other words, pretty similar to me in almost every way except for their gender. I’d say it was probably harder to think myself into the mind of someone in their twenties, as Emma is, than it is to think as a female narrator. One of my favourite writers, Daphne du Maurier, wrote several books from a male perspective and back then no one blinked an eye – we’ve become much more conscious of gender today, I think.
Also, though, wasn’t/isn’t it kind of default for people to write from the male perspective? Maybe that’s also why there was no blinkage.
Anyway, some standout reads from this month:
Trevor Noah Born a Crime Who doesn’t love Trevor Noah? I’ve said separately to about three friends in the last month, “I’d like to marry Trevor Noah” and been met with a resounding, “Oh yeah, me too” on all occasions. He’s a staple on my morning get-ready background noise routine, and his memoir is lovely. He is so, so big-hearted, with such a love for humans – not humanity, with it’s awful tendencies and cruelties – but for individuals. Compassionate, honest, wry, if you know his comedy work, you’ll read this in his voice. I’m not sure how it comes across if you’re not familiar with his TV work – so would be keen to hear from those readers.
Leo Tolstoy A Confession This conversion memoir was maybe the only Russian text I’ve read to completion in the last five years. I’m a sucker for conversion memoirs anyway, and this was such a familiar one – his overthinking, his commitment to his bohemian, liberal, intellectual life and community, his throwing himself into religion with a vengeance (which for him also meant putting aside rational critique, briefly), and then the gradual pull back to moderation, and doubt, but still within faith. It ends in an appropriately dreamy, skeptical way.
Eka Kurniawan Man Tiger This Indonesian novel was incredibly coiling, like a snake eating it’s own tail. It started with this incredible premise – a man sharing a body with a female tiger, a murder – and then wound down from this fantastic premise into the mundanity of life in a village. The grinding poverty, the brutal physicality of it, the small pettinesses and inhumanities of deprivation. But also wound up unexpectedly into sly supernatural touches, like a garden that grew and grew and grew, and out into the unbearably human love of a mother for a child that just never quite manages to redeem entirely. I am still thinking about it, and I didn’t expect to. It was miniaturist painting in writing.
Honourable mentions: EM Delafield’s The Provincial Lady series (so funny), Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give (painful, angry in the best way, hopeful), Jami Attenberg’s All Grown Up (on having a very human heart, a very human will).
18 books? Bring it on, June 2017.