Round-up: May 2016

This month has really been about getting back into my routine after the unusual few weeks that were April.

Probably the biggest news is that some of my reviews from this blog were published in a magazine! English Matters, a magazine designed for Polish English language-learners, got in touch and asked to publish two of my reviews. The finished result is really cool; my reviews appear alongside lists of translated vocabulary and grammar tips. I’m delighted!


Naturally I’ve had a couple of library hauls this month, including one massive one a few weeks ago where I got a bit carried away…

may 2016

  • The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami, A Taste of Chlorine by Bastien Vivès and Take It As A Compliment by Maria Stoian are all (sort of) graphic novels which I’ll cover in a triple book review.
  • The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is my follow-up to her extraordinary novel Americanah.
  • Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov continues the epic Foundation trilogy.
  • Carol by Patricia Highsmith is there because I want to read the book before seeing the film.
  • The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus really just appealed to me because of that lovely cover.

I’ve also taken out of the library:

  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara because it seems to have really divided opinion and I want to see what I make of it.
  • Frog by Mo Yan which I heard quite a bit about several years ago and never got around to reading.
  • The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel García Márquez because I haven’t read any Márquez in ages.

may 2016

As if that wasn’t enough, I also visited Tyntesfield House (a lovely National Trust house near Bristol) and bought a few books from their secondhand bookshop, including a couple of awesome-sounding sci-fi romps.

  • Even The Dogs by Jon McGregor, who now teaches the Creative Writing MA I did at Nottingham University.
  • An Age by Brian Aldiss, which is described in the blurb as being a “tense psychosexual thriller”.
  • Helliconia Summer by Brian Aldiss because it has a lovely fantasy-esque landscape on the cover, being watched over in the foreground by a goddamn yeti.

Me in any bookshop.

During May I also abandoned a book – the audiobook of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. I count Murakami among my favourite writers, but I just didn’t buy into this book at all, for two main reasons. One, Murakami trying to write about technology doesn’t work, and most of this book revolves around a ‘computech’, a character whose job involves making computer-like calculations in his brain. I just thought the whole thing sounded like utter bollocks.

Second, there’s an attractive, overweight woman in the book, and I couldn’t take one more drawn out monologue about how confused/aroused the narrator is by fat women, or one more gratuitous attempt by said fat female character to jump into bed with the narrator because ‘computechs like to have a lot of sex’. I gave up at the point when she said, “It’s cold. Can I get into bed with you?” Come on, Murakami, this is literature, not bloody wish fulfilment.

I’m growing a monobrow to properly express my distaste.

Most of all I loved writing my library posts this month, especially ‘The State of Great British Libraries‘, which I put a fair amount of work into. I hope to do similar next month with my new theme: reading and health. Can reading make you healthier? Did you know that books are being prescribed by doctors? It’s a fascinating subject, and I hope you’ll think so too!

I hope it’s as sunny where you are as it is in Bristol. Have a great month!

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