Friday, 15 March 2019
March reading (2019)
I haven't actually read a book all year, just listened to someone reading them to me. I just love that. I always listen to a sample of a book to make sure I like the narrator's voice. Some voices are more pleasant to listen to than other.
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This was our book group read. I am not sure if I'll continue going along. I am really keen to talk about a book at great length but we don't really do that and I feel a bit silly saying repeatedly "going back to book, what did you....". It makes me feel old. Anyway, I loved this book but I found it quite difficult to listen to. I wanted to shake Kambili (15) and shout at her to wake up and turn her life around. Easier said than done. Kambili is the voice of the book. She and her brother Jaja lead a privileged, extremely sheltered life in Enugu in Nigeria. Their father is a well respected rich factory owner. He is also fanatically religious and an abuser of his children and wife. Just writing about it makes me want to scream. The book is set in a time where Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup. At one point, Kambili and Jaja are allowed to visit their aunt, a university lecturer, and it is during this visit that both teenagers get a glimpse of what a normal life not dominated by religion and abuse might look like. Upon their return home, tensions in the family escalate... I won't give away more. If you are feeling a bit fragile, it might not be your book of choice. I had to put it down a few times to digest what was happening, not able to continue for a few days.
The Humans by Matt Haig
This was fun to listen to and I had a few laughing out loud moments, much to the amusement of those noticing me. It is a book about humanity and alien superiority (as seen by the aliens that is). The book begins with the main character dying after having solved a mathematical problem that could bring great technological progress for people. On the grand scheme of galactic life, humans are seen as barbaric and unrefined, and definitely not ready for technological advances that solving of this mathematical problem allows. Hence the need to eliminate all knowledge of the problem solved. An alien entity is sent to take over the body of Professor Andrew Martin, tasked to eliminate everybody in the know, no matter how peripherally. As you can imagine, suddenly being in the body of a human and with only minimal understanding of human behaviour, culture and society throws up some problems for the alien entity. The minimal knowledge is also largely wrong. As the alien learns more about humanity, he is less and less convinced that his mission is necessary or justified. He acknowledges that his actions are seen necessary by his masters because of a profound misunderstanding of humanity interpreted by a "people" so different, they cannot possible grasp what it means to be human.
The relentless tide by Denzil Meyrick.
This is the 6th book in the DCI Daley crime series. I have written about this series here, if you are interested in the series as a whole. In this book, past events collide with events in the present when in a Viking grave, far more modern skeletons are discovered. It just so happens that the victims are identified as three missing women, murdered in the early 1990s when DCI Daley was still a newbie police officer. I enjoyed this book, the narration was superb and the plot managed to keep me interested to the end.
I was a bit at a loss then for my next book so looked what other books the narrator of the DCI Daley book had performed. David Monteith, if you are wondering.
The sea detective by Mark Douglas-Home.
I chose this book for the narrator, not because I was particularly intrigued by the plot. The main character is Cal McGill, who is described as an Edinburgh based oceanographer, environmentalist and one-of-a-kind investigator. There are several storylines in this book, one being that of sex trafficking, the other of McGill's own family history and the final one that of dismembered feet washing up on the shores of Scottish beaches. The first and last overlap, but the storyline of Cal's family past is more separate. I enjoyed this overall but found the portrait of isolated Scottish coastal communities rather bleak and unpleasant. The characters are quite black and white, and could maybe be a bit more nuanced.
I also read "The woman who walked into the sea" by the same author. It is another Cal McGill sea detective book. Once more, we are in an isolated and rather destitute small coastal community. The plot was ok but not great. We meet Violet who was abandoned as a newborn on the front steps of a local hospital shortly before her mother committed suicide by walking into the sea. Violet tries to unravel the secrets surrounding her mothers death and of course Cal gets involved.... I thought Violet's relationship with her adoptive parents was poorly elaborated, which (as an adoptive mother) bothered me greatly. Alas, it was a pleasant enough book that kept me entertained for a while.
I am currently listening to Melanie Reid's "The world I fell out of". I listened to an interview with Melanie Reid on Woman's Hour and thought I might enjoy her book. And I do, what an emotional rollercoaster. More in my next book post. I don't read many autobiographies, they can be a bit self-indulgent, but this book is a bit different.
Next, I am planning to read "We are displaced" by Malala Yousafzai.
How about you? What are you reading just now? What is your favourite genre?
Wishing you all a happy weekend.