July in books

Image: On Chesil Beach (film adaptation, 2017)

Although two and a half books in one month is not a lot too most people – it is more than I have read for a while! Earlier on in the month I told myself I wanted to read more for pleasure – and I guess I have succeeded. Next month’s target will be three books – which should be more achievable as I will have finished my exams!

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (2007)

The first book I chose to read this month was one of the most harrowing books I have read for a while. I feel in love with Atonement when I was studying A-Level literature and have always wanted to read more McEwan and this didn’t disappoint. I read the short novel in about two days and was at once taken back to the writing style which made me fall in love with literature. McEwan has such a rich palette for detail and makes every scene come alive. On Chesil Beach follows the account of a newly wed couple on their honeymoon evening. Flipping from their student days until the present, McEwan tells the story of their upsetting struggle. Subtle but innovative, the story is compelling but nonetheless devastating. A perspective not often covered in literature, but tackled with beauty and elegance, the reader can almost feel the tension prickling through the pages. 4/5

Autumn by Ali Smith (2016),

Considered to be the first fiction book written in response to Brexit, this book (and following series) follows a contemporary criticism of Britain in the aftermath of the 2016 vote. Written in the third person, in prose somewhat resembling poetic voice, it offers a stark criticism of the feeling of Britain in a post-Brexit world. Although being fiction, one cannot help but interpret Autumn as symbolic of Britain’s Brexit sentiment as a historic moment. Leaver or remainer, upon reading Autumn, readers should agree that it is a remarkable work of fiction based on a current, real life political event that everyone should read regardless of political persuasion. Autumn is a set of four books which include Spring, Summer and Winter. Each is a reflection of the moments following the Brexit vote. Stark, yet wonderfully written and reflective. (5/5)

Saturday by Ian McEwan

I cannot really write a review of this as I am only half way through, but I thought I would include a some thoughts anyway. As I was impressed by Chesil Beach, I thought I would continue the McEwan theme. Saturday is set in the post 9/11 age and offers a subtle reflection on British politics in the 2000s; the threat of nuclear war with Iran and urban life in modern London. As expected, McEwan intricately describes every nook and cranny of the life of the protagonist, the neurosurgeon, Henry Perowne and his family. It is a novel set in one single Saturday, but the intricacy makes it feel like a lifetime. I am very much looking forward to reading more of it!

falling back in love with reading

Image: Pixabay

With every passing year, I make the resolution to read more. Which sounds ridiculous if you knew what I was like ten years ago. I was one of those children who used to stay up at night with a book under the covers and a torch. Not even sunny days could drag me away from the comfort of printed pages.

I used to read until my eyes got sore and my joints got stiff from holding the heavy weight of thousands of words.

Every year since I started university (three now) I have made the resolution that I really must read more. Which is ironic as I study history and my days revolve around reading. But reading for pleasure has been out of the question since 2016.

Reading for pleasure can often feel like a selfish indulgence – especially with fiction books. Often, they’re not really adding much to your life (or you intelligence) and feel as if they are a sinful indulgence. That’s what my relationship to them has been recently anyway. After failing last year’s Goodreads reading challenge I set for myself, and the one before that I really want to start enjoying reading again.

Because reading should not be categorized as a form of guilty self indulgence, even when our busy lives are jam packed – who can’t spare ten minutes a day? Reading is so important for the mind and maintaining a mentality of freedom and imagination.

So for this month (during my revision for exams!) – I have challenged myself to read more fiction. I am on book number 2 so far. A follow up ‘books I have read this month’ will be on the horizon soon.

V.