One of my new year’s resolutions was to keep track of what I’ve read this year and so far, I’ve managed to keep up. It’s just about the only resolution I have maintained and the only reason I have is because it’s like resolving to watch more Netflix or eat more pizza… Still, obviously I’m very proud of myself.
Since I was a very little girl, I’ve loved reading and I have been good at it: I haven’t ever struggled to zone out and focus on a novel and I’ve always found plenty of time to keep up with my reading. Partly this is because I carry a book with me all the time. When I get in a queue or on a bus or when someone is late to meet me, I’m as likely to open a book as I am to open Instagram. Incidentally, that is my top tip for getting into reading: make it accessible to yourself. Don’t just read before you go to bed, because you’re too tired by then- even I’m usually too tired by then. Listen to an audiobook on your commute or whilst you meal-prep, keep a book in your bag, only try to read things you want to read, not what you think you ought to read: make it easy for yourself.
Anyway, these days I do have less time to read than I once did but still I was struggling to keep track of the books I’ve been reading. Since I started my list I’ve found it so nice to be able to look back at what I’ve read! And I’ve found it interesting that so far, I’ve read at least 4 books a month regardless of anything else that’s happened. I know some of the books (Chris Kraus’ I Love Dick for example) have taken me more than a fortnight to read where as others (Ruby Tandoh’s Eat Up) has taken less than a day but I’ve still achieved an average of a book a week.
Here are a few of the books I’ve read lately:
Lullaby by Leila Slimani
This was one of those books that was everywhere. You know the cover, I know you do. I took this out at the library after hearing about it a few times on a podcast called What Page Are You On. It was good! But I don’t quite understand why it was so famous? It didn’t grip me in the way I’d hope a thriller usually would but I got through it quite quickly, it was easy to read and I didn’t feel bored reading it. I’d happily read something else by Leila Slimani but I’d not be falling over myself to do so... Having said that, I think the actual subject matter the book covers is pertinent and important- mothers, motherhood, wealth, status. Perhaps if I'd have read it another time or in a different mood I'd have enjoyed it more.
I Love Dick by Chris Kraus
Okay this I have had on my amazon wishlist for literal years but in the end actually I got it from the library (and deleted it from my list). I’ve had Kraus’ Aliens and Anorexia on my book shelf for years too, making me look more intelligent and well-read than I really am… This book is meant to be kind of a subversive lit-crit masterpiece… I think. I didn’t get it though. It seemed mean and arrogant and, to be honest, not very interesting. But, I know a lot of people love and adore it so I have a feeling that I’m missing something. Someone enlighten moi?
Eat Up! By Ruby Tandoh
What a lovely book! This is about food and the relationships we have with food and it is good and warm and funny. Something I specifically liked about Ruby’s style is the sheer volume of pop-cultural references she has slid into her text. As a cinephile and bibliophile myself, it was immensely satisfying to see the parallels and links she draws between various sources; from in text recipes emulating Nora Ephron’s famous Heartburn Vinaigrette to love meals in Moonlight. I love this stuff- this intertexuality it’s so clever and fun and comforting, to me anyway.
A Red Bird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
Okay, stop me if I go on too much but Fannie Flagg is the author of one of my all-time favourite novels; Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. I love and adore how she depicts the Deep South and southern hospitality. She is a gorgeous, gentle writer. Just like Fried Green Tomatoes, A Red Bird Christmas has a dark and disturbing underbelly but it is really and truly offset by the cosy, sunniness of its characters and overarching story-line. For example: in A Red Bird Christmas we are following a down and out alcoholic in his last few weeks of life on earth down to Alabama where he can take the warmer air for his busted lungs. Whilst there, he looks for an AA meeting, he asks a resident who tells him theres a meeting in Birmingham he can head along to. When he arrives he finds himself at an Alabama Accordion meeting instead and has to sit through the hour pretending he forgot to bring his instrument. I have read this book before and will read it again no doubt: I thought it was lovely.
Guys I was only going to write about 4 books but I need to also mention: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris: this book had me laughing out loud in public. Sedaris does lots of readings of his stories which you can hear on radio 4 or in real life and I think they are kind of meant to be heard rather than read, do you know what I mean? None the less, I found this collection genuinely hilarious, I can only imagine how much funnier it would be to actually hear Sedaris read the stories out loud.
Alright, that’s me done. What have you all been reading? Have you read I Love Dick? Can you explain it to me? Please?