Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Recent Reads:: Intense Actors, Brushes with Death, and Feminism

Thankfully, thankfully I still have some of summer left before my second year of university, and as a result, my reading has been incredibly varied and adventurous since I finished for the summer at the start of June. I've not necessarily held myself in the way I used to, pressuring myself to finish as many books as possible in summer before I lose time to read so much. Now doing a literature degree, the bulk of my reading occurs academically, so I've slowed the pace during this glorious summer: if I want to read, I read whatever I fancy, no matter how long some things have been on my bookshelves, if I don't want to read, then that's also great! Not reading has given me a lot of time to unwind and channel myself into the season itself. Though there's plenty more on what I've read this summer so far, here's a few of the picks that have surprised me...

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

According to Goodreads, I've had this on my to-read shelf since August 2016. This was one of those books I resisted buying until I'd completed first year, waiting until all coursework and portfolios had been submitted, and my final exam was done. A few days later I ordered a handful of books on Wordery, including this, the book I'd been dying to read (if you've read this book then you'll appreciate my terrible sense of humour). Wordery

Set in Illinois, the novel follows 7 acting students in their final year at a prestigious, secretive university, and the one of them who was wrongly convicted of the murder of another one of their circle. If We Were Villains has quietly entered the book world, amasssing a somewhat cult following for it's thrilling premise of a plot. However, this was not at all what I'd expected, and not nearly as good. 

Not only is book incredibly similar to Donna Tartt's The Secret History, but it also relies far too heavily on Shakespeare. I love Shakespeare and reading about Shakespeare, but the fact that this book was  maybe a quarter passages from Shakespearean plays tells you something about the author and their choices here... like they couldn't include some of the lines and tell readers the rest for themselves but rather bulk out the book with 400 year old passages of world-renowned plays. Maybe this book was inspired by The Secret History, maybe this is in turn meant to inspire one to read The Secret History if they haven't already. However, I feel following this book, I have absolutely no desire to pick up its senior any time soon.

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O'Farrell

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With DeathThis was read, well, listened to on an audiobook on a peaceful journey too and chaotic journey back from London. This kept me company at a train station in the middle of nowhere when I'd suddenly had to cough up £40 to not even get halfway home. Thanks, Conservative government. I Am, I Am, I Am is a chilling read, stroking death up close and examining our relationship with it in modern society. 

Yet simultaneously, this book is incredible lyrical, as if the words just pour out of the pen for O'Farrell, like even in the darkest of subjects, she gathers and sews constellations with her work. I'm astounded by how she managed to paint this tale in such a poetic manner despite it's hideousness for her, and yet, extraordinarily, she does. Upon hearing the final sentence, it suddenly dawned upon me that of any author whose work I've encountered, O'Farrell is the one I desire to write like most. Wordery

the witch doesn't burn in this one by Amanda Lovelace

the witch doesn't burn in this one by Amanda LovelaceAbsolutely adored the princess saves herself in this one and I think I outright assumed I'd have the same emotional attachment to its sequel. However, like my friend and MuggleNet colleague Ellie said, it just never quite felt the same. In many ways, whilst some poems were beautiful, it felt repetitive. the princess saves herself in this one had left me stunned, in awe of Lovelace's delicate and simplistic turn of phrase, packing a mighty punch in very few words.  Whereas here, there were some incredible pieces, but I never once had that feeling that makes  me feel so attached to Lovelace's debut collection. Nevertheless, I have immense faith in the final collection in this trilogy, the mermaid doesn't lose her voice in this one. Wordery

This has certainly been a variety, with incredibly variant outcomes and I like to think that even if some of these disappointed me, all of them are adding to my humanity and growth as a bookworm. What have you been reading recently?