Reflection: April – June 2017

I thought I’d better start this post by addressing the fact that I’ve been absent from the bookish community for the last two months – as with many people in the community I’d imagine, those lovely things called exams have been taking over my life, to the point where I literally haven’t done much but study for two solid months. Thankfully, the exam period has finally come to an end, and I am now so excited to get back into reading and blogging again! If you’re reading this, thank you for not abandoning my blog in these months!

A few months ago I wrote a post saying that I was going to be combining my monthly Reflection posts into quarterly ones as I didn’t think I’d have enough books to talk about to warrant a separate post each month. And here I am, apparently about to go back on everything I said in that post. Somehow, over the past three months I have read nine books (admittedly most of these were re-reads for my English Lit exams), meaning that this is going to be a longer post than I’d anticipated. Due to that, and the fact that I now have a lovely three months off stretching out before me, I thought I’d give monthly reflections another shot as my plan is largely just to read, read, and read, and I’d prefer to give slightly more detailed reviews each month rather than the few sentences you’re going to get in this one.

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History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (3/5 stars) – Synopsis

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I did a full review of this here.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (5/5 stars) – Synopsis

I don’t feel like there’s much left to say about this book that hasn’t already been said. I absolutely adored it – my favourite of Austen’s works so far – and I honestly think I couldn’t find a fault with it.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (5/5 stars) – Synopsis

This was one of the best YA novels I have read in a long time. I went into it with very high expectations given how popular I know it has been in bookish circles, and I wasn’t disappointed. THUG made me seriously think about and evaluate my own privileges, and gave a truly insightful picture of modern society that not many authors that I’ve read have managed to achieve. I would recommend this to anyone.

Daily Zen by Charlie Ambler (5/5 stars) – Synopsis

This book is actually a collection of essays by Charlie Ambler, author of the blog Daily Zen. Quite often I will peruse his blog posts and find that most of them have quite an impact on me or resonate with where I’m at, so when I saw that they were going to be collected into a book I just had to have it. Charlie addresses so many issues that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, including spirituality, consumerism and materialism, appreciation of nature, politics, and gratitude. My copy of this is covered in highlighted sections and notes in the margins that I will now always come back to when I feel I want to. What’s crucial, I think, is that Charlie speaks in very understandable, relatable language, which is not always easy to find in books about spirituality, and I genuinely feel like I took something from every single essay I read.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (5/5 stars) – Synopsis

I think any book set in jazz-age, art deco America is immediately going to draw me in. Although I didn’t love this on the first reading, the second reading worked wonders. Not only is Fitzgerald brilliant at creating characters who you simultaneously love and hate (apart from Tom Buchanan – he’s just plain awful), but his description and imagery is so rich that I really felt like I could just step into the page and into one of Gatsby’s parties.

Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers (2/5 stars) – Synopsis

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I have to say, this book was pretty disappointing. Two of the things that are a sure way for me to dislike a YA novel are narrators who try to be profound for the sake of being profound, and characters that fall in love when they barely know the other person. Both of these occurred in DTKY, and it just meant that I couldn’t really take any of it seriously, and the premise of the book was just a bit too unrealistic for me. Writing this post a month or so later, I’ve also just realised that I genuinely can’t remember the names of any of the characters…

Othello by William Shakespeare (5/5 stars) – Synopsis

This was another one that I studied as an exam text, and every single time I read it I think I just love it more. Shakespeare was just a master of language, and I can’t get enough of his works.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (3/5 stars) – Synopsis

This was one of those texts that I appreciated for its literary importance and what it did for theatre at the time, but reading it gave me very little enjoyment. It was okay, but if I didn’t have to analyse it in such depth I doubt I’d remember as much about it as I do.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (5/5 stars) – Synopsis

Yet another one of my exam texts; this was a re-read. Strangely, I only awarded this book three stars when I first read it but upon a second read I just seemed to get so much more out of it. The first time I read it I found it to be very slow and difficult to want to pick up, but I think because I was under a time limit to re-read it before the exam I read it very quickly, so the pace didn’t seem to be much of an issue. Atwood’s social commentary gives an alarmingly possible interpretation of the future, and one that I think many people could learn a lot from.

 

That’s it for this reflection post – normal service will resume with blogging from now on! Thanks for reading, and let me know if you’ve read/what you thought of any of the books I’ve mentioned.

– Bex

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