Despite reading the beginning of a few books in August I have only finished one which is why this post only includes Brooklyn. Hopefully by the end of September I will have finished all the books I’ve started and maybe a few more.
Colm Toibin – Brooklyn
I had wanted to read this since I had first seen the film advertised and realised it was based on a book. However I did seem to constantly forget about it and it wasn’t until I found the book at my Grandma’s that I decided to borrow it and finally get round to reading it. I enjoyed the book immensely and devoured it over 3 evenings – during my social media cleanse so nothing to distract me. It follows Eilis as she moves from her village in Ireland to Brooklyn for better opportunities during the 1950s. As with most books that are turned into films, there was a mountain more description in the book and I did find myself constantly comparing the two despite only having the seen film once over a year ago. I did however find Eilis a lot more likeable in the film than towards the end of the book when I seemed to be forever internally screaming –spoiler alert – “Get your arse back to your husband in Brooklyn!” This is not to say that the characters weren’t likeable and I felt the casting of them in the film did them a mountain of justice. I would definitely recommend this to others who both have and haven’t seen the film and it draws you in to Eilis’ life in a very compelling way – most of the time.
Although I was on holiday for the last week of July I didn’t manage to read as much as I had originally hoped. I took 4 books with me, bought another 4 in charity shops in the first few days yet still only managed to read half a book. I did, however, listen to an entire book with my family while driving around Northern Ireland. Prior to going on holiday we decided to borrow some audiobooks from the library and despite 2 of them being duds that we couldn’t listen to for more than 15 minutes, one was glorious.
Emma Kennedy – Shoes For Anthony
My Dad picked this after a number of the books he had reserved did not arrive in time and as he and I had both read The Tent, The Bucket and Me – and loved it – he thought this would be a good choice for our long car rides. He wasn’t wrong. The book follows a young boy Anthony who lives in a small mining village in Wales during the Second World War. The audiobook is read by Emma Kennedy herself and it was a joy to listen to, especially – and this came as a surprise to me – the accents. By the end of the story we were close to taking it into the house so we could continue listening to it. We had guessed one of the twists but we did not anticipate the turn it was going to take, nor did guessing this take anything away from the joy of listening to it. Shoes For Anthony would be an excellent read but I would definitely recommend getting a hold of the audiobook if you can!
Between travelling around Galicia with my family, moving home again after 8 months and a trip to New York I didn’t find as much time to read as I normally do but the one book I managed to read was glorious enough to make up for it.
Phoebe Robinson – You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have To Explain
I had been wanting to read Phoebe Robinson’s collection of essays/memoir since I discovered her on Instagram through Ilana Glazer. I had found it on Amazon but was working my way through a pile of other books and it wasn’t all that cheap. However when I walked into Strand books in New York I realised I would probably be able to get it a little cheaper and went off in search for it. It turned out it had been upstairs just as you walk in the door but looking for it hadn’t exactly been a chore. I started reading it that afternoon as I was waiting for Cat to finish work and knew almost immediately it had been worth tracking down. Phoebe talks about her life growing up and becoming a comedian and how being a black female affected certain things she did. She also ends her book with a collection of letters to her 2 year old niece which are especially glorious. I cried, I laughed and I will be recommending it to everyone till I die.
May began as a month where I thought I was going to get loads read but after spending weeks trying to read Eat Pray Love, in the end I only managed to complete 2 books. I had wanted to read Eat Pray Love for a while as many people had said they had loved it, it was slow to begin but I enjoyed the section in Italy – all those food descriptions – but once she made it to Indonesia I found the voice unbearable and the descriptions of meditation dull and monotonous. So I gave up and left the book in Spain. Less about that and more about the books I actually managed to finish. As the last 3 books I have read have been written by the same author it has meant that I have compared all of them against each other.
Liane Moriarty – Truly Madly Guilty
I had had this on my reading list for a while after it was recommended to me by a friend but after reading Big Little Lies it jumped up quite a few places. It was a slower read than Big Little Lies – although I still managed to read it in less than a week – but once I hit the halfway point I was gripped and finished it in one evening. It is written in a similar way to Big Little Lies in that it follows 2 timelines – leading to and after a big unknown event. It was excellent and I would definitely recommend it but I don’t think it is as good as Big Little Lies.
Liane Moriarty- My Husband’s Secret
My Husband’s Secret was my least favourite of the 3 but was again very easy to read so was perfect for between classes and reading at the beach. This was similar to the previous Moriarty books I had read in that it tells the story up to an event and after but differs in that the “event” in question was decades before the rest of the story. It would be worth a read if you’ve nothing else but not one I would be telling people to run and buy.
As I was at home for the first few weeks of April – and busy trying to do as much and see as many people as possible in 17 days – I didn’t get to read as much as I usually do and by the time I returned to Spain I had only read the first few chapters of Lion. I thought this would be first month where I only completed one book but in the end I’ve finished 3 books – 2 read in the last 6 days of April – and they have all been excellent. They all revolve around a search for the truth which for some is found within in another person and they all show strong friendship and familial bonds.
Saroo Brierley- Lion/ A Long Way Home: A Memoir
My Mam and Dad had seen this at the cinema and after loving it my Mam decided to read the book. She enjoyed it and recommended I read it too, which I did. Although it took me nearly 3 weeks between starting and finishing it, it was a surprisingly easy read – during which I definitely cried multiple times. It is the true story of Saroo who got onto the wrong train in India when he was 5 years old and, after growing up in Australia, begins to search for his family. It was heartbreaking to read but with the photos in the middle – I definitely looked at these before I even decided to read the book – I knew that he would find his family. However it was still incredible to read about his sheer determination to track down the town where he had been born and lost his family.
Liane Moriarty – Big Little Lies
As most people know – and anyone who has read even one of these blog posts – I am drawn to books that have been adapted into films or TV shows. So when I discovered the TV show – starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shaileene Woodley, Laura Deen and a host of other famous faces – was based on a book, I knew I had to read it before I would be able to watch the show. The TV show is being raved about by everyone I know who has watched it – I haven’t started to binge yet – and I am not surprised as the book was superb. Over 3 days I laughed, I cried, I sent quotes to my friends and at one point I even threw my kindle across my bed as the twist came as a massive shock to me. After I made it past the halfway point I couldn’t put it down and walked across the road still reading it and for the first time read on the bus on the way back from school. The story follows a group of mothers of kindergarten children in Sydney and tells their story leading up to the murder of one of the parents. It deals with a multitude of issues that women face such as domestic violence, abuse, problems with their children while also depicting female friendship as the incredible force that it is. I couldn’t recommend Big Little Lies highly enough.
Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees
I picked this book up in a second hand book shop in Vigo but had planned to read it later and try to read a book in Spanish first but when Katie said she had read it and loved it, I decided to start reading it straight after I finished Big Little Lies. I read it in 2 sittings – 2 3 and a half hour long but still – and it was an absolutely stunning read. It is set in South Carolina in the 60s and follows the story of Lily Owens who runs away from home with her black maid, Rosaleen, and finds refuge in the house of the Boatwright sisters who keep bees and sell the honey. The civil rights movement that was taking place at the time is mentioned throughout – Rosaleen wanting to register to vote, racism, Martin Luther King – the story focuses on Lily’s search for more information about her mother who dies when she was 4 and the importance of female role models. It is an excellent book that I would definitely recommend.
Last month I read fewer books than the previous 2 months but they were excellent, made even better by the fact I was able to read them while sitting on the beach in the sunshine.
Richard Morais – The Hundred Foot Journey
I had had this book since the film was first released in the cinema and my Mam had picked it up in Tesco on offer. I had planned to read it and watch the film after but after watching the film earlier in the year – and absolutely loving it – I decided it was time to give the book a try. It was different to the film, Hassan wasn’t quite as friendly and lovely as in the film and there was no Hollywood ending. However it was still excellent. I struggled to read it while hungry as it is full of detailed descriptions of amazing sounding food that in reality I probably wouldn’t eat but sounded so tempting I was close to eating my book. The book also came across as more real, the characters are more well rounded – less perfect and more likely to be asshats. All in all it was a very entertaining read and one I would definitely recommend- just probably for when you’re not starving!
Laura Bates – Girl Up
I had bought Girl Up last summer after seeing it just about everywhere but again I hadn’t gotten around to actually reading it. I wish I had read it sooner. What a book! It discusses a multitude of different things that young girls deal with every day. It is both overwhelmingly honest and full of humour. I have never read anything more relatable and it has also prompted many discussions with my flat mate who has borrowed it and read it quicker than she has ever read another book. It is an incredible read that I would recommend to everyone and should be given to every young girl as there is so much that would have been exactly what I needed to read while I was at school. In short, this book should be read by every female.
Yet again last month all of the books I read were written by a woman with a female at the centre of the story – or stories – and they have been excellent once again. Two have even centred around red headed females which I found strange as they were chosen by chance to read in the same month. With the weather being so good, reading between classes was a joy in the sunshine meaning that again I finished 3 books last month – success!
Lucy Maud Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Green Gables is one of those classics I knew very little about until I started using Pinterest. I was forever scrolling through screenshots from the film but it wasn’t until I watched an adaptation with my Mam – it had Martin Sheen in and I feel like it was potentially on Hallmark – that I decided to give it a read. As it’s a classic the book was free on my kindle – winner – so while trying to expand my reading horizons I downloaded it. I found it very easy to read and it was a perfect accompaniment to my cups of tea at the beach during my breaks at school. It’s also always nice to read a book with a redhead as the main character – even if she spends the first half of the book complaining about it. As with other books I have read recently I thought it seemed to end quite quickly – although maybe it just feels that way when I’m enjoying a book so much – and after all the posts on Pinterest I’d expected a lot more Gilbert Blythe. All in all I liked the book a lot and am definitely enjoying reading more of the classics that I feel like should have already read.
Anna Kendrick – Scrappy Little Nobody
I knew I wanted to read this as soon as Anna Kendrick posted a picture on instagram saying it was going to be a thing. I got it for Christmas and managed to stretch reading it over a good 5 weeks by reading a little everyday before going to sleep. I loved it. I laughed, I cried, I cringed – it was exactly what I expected and I loved finding out a little more about an actress that I love so much. It was split into sections and contained anecdotes about her love life, career, family and friends. Before reading it I hadn’t realised she’d been a child stage actress and found it interesting to read about how she had grown up while working. I’ve already lent the book to 2 of the other girls here so I think it will be well and truly read and enjoyed.
Louise Jensen – The Sister
I decided to give this a read after it came up as a recommended read after Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. It was labelled as a “psychological thriller with a brilliant twist you won’t see coming” which – without giving too much away – would have been more believable if the book wasn’t named The Sister. That’s not to say the book wasn’t good or that I guessed exactly how it was going to end but another name may have been a better choice. When I first started I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to finish as Jensen does have a strange writing style which I found a little irritating at first. However once I got halfway through – and the plot began to thicken – I was gripped and finished it in a few hours. I have since downloaded her other novel in the hope that it will be as easy to read and help to fill the time.
For those of you who regularly read my blog you’ll be aware that one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read at least one book a month. This month I have actually finished 3 since returning to Spain in the New Year. While trying to think of a title for the post I realised that all 3 books were written by women and have female protagonists. This wasn’t intentional but after the way this year has started – and after the inspiring Women’s marches across the world – it does seem quite fitting. It is also not that surprising, I am halfway through another book by a woman and many of the books loaded onto my kindle are by women. So here’s to a year full of fascinating, exciting and heart-breaking stories by incredible women, and men.
Louisa May Alcott – Little Women
I started reading Little Women before Christmas, and after a break while I was at home, I finished it in my first week back. I feel like I had maybe started to read it at about 9 at my Grandma’s house while unable to find anything else but had given up after a few pages and watched CBBC instead. I read the entire book in my breaks and thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in the characters’ lives while drinking cups of mint tea and listening to the waves. I definitely found myself getting caught up in their lives – I quite often would rage to Else about what I’d read that day – and was intensely disappointed when the ending wasn’t as predictable as I’d first thought. It has, however, showed me how many of the classics I’ve yet to read and has given me the push to download a lot more onto my kindle ready for the next time I need some more sentimentality in my life.
Gillian Flynn – Sharp Objects
This has been on my kindle since the last time I was in Spain after I was blown away by Gone Girl and decided to read anything I could find by Gillian Flynn. However after reading Dark Places and its depictions of satanic rituals and intensely gory murders I had to take a break and never managed to convince myself to go back and read Sharp Objects. After finishing Little Women I knew I wanted something a little more gritty and some more suspense and twists so I decided to just get over it and start. I am so glad I did. It reminded me why I had started with my Gillian Flynn obsession in the first place – enough hints to keep you guessing but not so many that the ending is insanely obvious. The one thing I disliked was that the ending seemed a little rushed – most of the book is spread over the space of about 2 weeks but in one chapter towards the end they squeeze in a few weeks of what’s happened. Reading crime novels again has reminded me of one of my favourite modules at university and has prompted me to download a lot more to keep up the suspense.
Emma Kennedy – I Left My Tent in San Francisco
I decided to read this as I felt like I needed something lighter after Sharp Objects and knew Emma Kennedy would pull it out of the bag. I read another of her books The Tent, the Bucket and Me last year after watching The Kennedys, which is based on the book, and cried laughing from start to finish. The Tent, the Bucket and Me recounts her disastrous childhood holidays while I Left My Tent in San Francisco details her summer in USA with her best friend, Dee after graduating from Oxford. As with The Tent, the Bucket and Me they face a number of hilarious disasters along the way as their trip does not go at all as they had planned. One of the biggest problems Emma faces is the decision about what to do with her life now that she’s finished university – Dee is going to be a Doctor so has her life mapped out. I have never identified with someone more. When I graduated a lot of my friends were heading straight back to University- or had just finished their training – in order to become a teacher. Meanwhile all I knew was that I didn’t want to become a teacher- great Erin, that’s one job out of 1,000,000 that you can cross off your list. A year and a half later and I’m still no closer to a decision. What I enjoyed about I Left My Tent in San Francisco is that despite not having a clue about what she wanted to do Emma Kennedy has gone on to write 9 books and a TV series. Not everyone knows what they’re going to do at 22 – or 23 in my case – but that’s fine, we’ve got our entire lives to figure it out.