August is my favourite month of the year for many reasons, but mainly because I manage to relax completely from teaching and immerse myself in reading and writing. I’ve blogged about books a little bit less than usual, written more flash fiction and short stories than usual, and I’ve interviewed some amazing people for The Northern Connection Podcast as part of Women In Translation month.
On book blogging
Book blogging is a strange old hobby – it’s one that can bring huge highs and depressing lows. When posts are well-received and shared by other readers and bloggers, it can be thrilling and rewarding, and other times you can pour your heart and soul into a review for it to be met with a luke-warm reception, if any at all!
Recently, there has been much discussion on Twitter about the future of book blogging and many bloggers have debated the pros and cons of the blog review. Everything changes, and the world of book reviewing is not exempt from this, with a growing market for Book Tokers and Insta reels and a more visual and audio delivery of reviews and recommendations. It can sometimes seem as though the traditional blog is dying a death. Who knows! Personally, I believe there’s room for all forms of book love and I plan to continue blogging away and sharing my enthusiasm for books.
It’s been lovely to be recognised as having one of the Top 100 Book Blogs of 2021 – thank you so much for Feedspot. Twinkl are running a literary lovers campaign during September. I was delighted to be invited to take part by sharing a review – there are loads of great recommendations on there by book bloggers so check it out if you are wondering what to read next.
I’ve started to push my head above the parapet with my own writing, and while it’s absolutely terrifying, I’ve received some positive feedback, which is hugely motivating and encouraging, so I’m going to continue to scare myself this way! Thank you so much to Laura Besley for cheering me along, and to also my lovely friend Rachel Canwell, my first pair of eyes and biggest cheerleader – thank you so much. I was delighted that Sundial Magazine accepted and published Infidel Teaching.
On reading during August
Along with Jules, Rebecca, Rachel and Siobhain, we decided that the August episode of The Northern Connection would focus on Women In Translation month, so much of my reading has been fuelled by this theme. Here are my reads with a little summary of each book.
Adele, by Leila Slimani, published by Faber – a fantastic and truly compelling read about a French woman living a double life in Paris. On the surface, she’s respectable and privileged with her job in a newspaper and her husband who is a doctor, but Adele has carnal desires which are not satisfied at home. This book tells of her adventures and misadventures in the French capital.
Heaven by Mieko Kawakami, published by Picador. A DNF for me, but I tried, multiple times! It’s about two teenage misfits in High School in Tokyo who form a friendship. This is a book about the impact of bullying, and there are lots of detailed descriptions of bullying which I found very difficult to read. I got very close to the end, but I abandoned it because I feared the worst!
Girls Who Lie by Eva Bjorg Aegisdotir, published by Orenda. This is Eva’s second book (Creak on the Stairs was the first) and it’s book two in the Frozen Iceland series. Police officer Elma and her colleagues are called to investigate a murder when a body of a young woman is found on the Grabok lava fields near Akranes. It’s dark, twisty and very evocative. We interviewed Eva and Karen Sullivan, founder of Orenda books, as part of our WITmon podcast. Check it out, and you can also hear Eva reading from the book.
Love in Five Acts by Daniela Krien, published by MacLehose. I spotted this in a WIT recommendation article in the Irish Independent and was intrigued by the premise, so I ordered it. The book is structured in five sections, each section reading like a novella and focusing on a different woman, exploring love, desire and sadness. I really enjoyed this book and loved how the lives of the women were in some way connected.
The Country of Others by Leila Slimani, published by Faber. After absolutely loving Adele, I ordered myself this. It’s a very different read, but I was prepared for this from the blurb. Slimani is a Moroccan French author, and this book is loosely based on her own family history in France and Morocco. It is the first in a planned series. The Country of Others explores identity, race and colonisation through characters who are equally flawed and wonderful. This book is set after the end of WW2, and spans about ten years of life in rural Morocco for a Moroccan man, Amine, his French wide, Mathilde and their two children, Aicha and Selim. Beautifully written. I can’t wait for the next instalment.
The next couple of books are not WIT reads.
The Man Who Died Twice, by Richard Osman, published by Viking Penguin. I’m on the instagram tour for this book later in September when I’ll be sharing a more indepth review, but let me tell you, this is a fantastic book. Osman has created the most wonderful and enduring characters in this series. There are still scenes and conversations that continue to make me chuckle now, weeks after having finished. If you read The Thursday Murder Club, you know exactly what to expect! If not, I cannot recommend these books enough.
Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason, published by W&N – this book has been raved about on Twitter for much of this year by so many readers whose opinions I respect and trust, so I knew it would be a cracker, and it absolutely is! It’s a wry, funny and heart breaking story about mental health and love. Highly recommended!
Summerwater by Sarah Moss, published by Picador. Having recently read The Fell (out in November) I was keen to explore some of Sarah’s books that I’ve missed. Verdict? Oh. My. God!!! The writing is just everything for me – so beautifully observed! Just like with The Fell, I wanted to read it all over again as soon as I finished the book. Sarah Moss captures and writes people so well!
I read Quilaq by Rebecca Burns as a PDF. I very rarely read on an e-reader, but I made an exception for this novella and am so pleased I did. Set over the course of one night, seven characters are brought together in their search for Quilaq – a type of Shangri-La where all their woes will be alleviated. The language is so rich, and it contrasts so sharply with the bleak setting of the book. A quick read filled with unforgettable characters.
So, that’s it for my bookish roundup.
Thanks for reading,