It is the August bank holiday – and I think summer is over. I shed a tear, but I’m also pleased to be able to wear all my nice jumpers. Plus we’re going on holiday to France next weekend, so I can’t really complain.
It’s been a pretty good summer, with both my boyfriend and I starting new (better) jobs, getting a new house for October, and generally having a nice time. I have, of course, read a lot of books. Some good, some bad, and some that were somewhere in between…
I’m counting May as summer, as we had some really nice weather and I read quite a lot of books. First was The Helios Disaster by Linda Bostrom Knausgaard, which was sent to me by World Editions as part of their launch. I didn’t review this book as it was sent to me unsolicited, and I just did not get on with it – and yet I didn’t have enough to say about it to warrant a review. It was just an anomaly.
Next were some in-between-y books – not great but not terrible either. Hideous Creatures by S. E. Lister was one of the weirder books I’ve read, but not necessarily in a good way. It felt like maybe it was for younger readers? My review here.
2015 paperback edition
After that came Witches: James I and the English Witch Hunts by Tracey Borman (review here), which promised a lot more than it delivered. It was nevertheless very interesting and enjoyable – just not quite enough. I’d still like to read something about this weird phase of history, perhaps something that covers both the British and American witch hunts and trials. Recommendations welcome!
2014 edition (image: goodreads.com)
I read my first Penguin Little Black Classic this summer, which was very nice – I chose The Beautifull Cassandra by Jane Austen, and it was lovely, like a little dip into Austen’s world of society and social drama. Loved it.
Finally in May I read two history books, one of which was a bit meh, and one of which was unbelievably amazing. A-bit-meh was The Bride of Science by Benjamin Woolley, a book I had high expectations for. It is a biography of Ada Lovelace, who I had wanted to read about for some time. She was the daughter of Lord Byron and his wife Annabella Millbanke, which is interesting enough, but she was also one of the first ever computer programmers and worked with Charles Babbage on his difference engine. So should make for a great biography right? Uh, no. Benjamin Woolley manages to make the book entirely about the people around Ada rather than Ada herself, and I got tired of this quite quickly. Sigh. My review here.
2015 Pan paperback edition (image: goodreads.com)
But then came…. The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters by Adam Nicolson. I was in love. I had been waiting for this book my whole life. It is simply wonderful. Just read it. My waffling blog post here.
2015 William Collins paperback edition (image: goodreads.com)
First up in June was the first of Anjelica Huston’s two memoirs, A Story Lately Told. It has a beautiful cover and is a charming, funny, and very engaging book. I reviewed alongside the second volume, read later in the summer, so I’ll link to it then, later in this post. It’s a good summer read, quite easy-going and very likeable.
Now, I quite often take the time to explore the Recommendations section of GoodReads, as the sheer quantity of stuff on there means that it usually throws up something good, or at least unexpected. My next read was both of these things, and was discovered in said Recommendations section. Forgotten Fatherland tells the story of Elisabeth Nietzsche, sister of the famous philosopher and completely bonkers. She was a complete racist and, with her equally mad racist husband, set up an Aryan colony in Paraguay which they named Nueva Germania. Really. Suffice to say I loved this book. My review here.
2013 Bloomsbury paperback edition
And next came… oh dear… the book that people will not stop talking about, for better or for worse… A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I thought I would absolutely love it, and while I did love some parts of it, I really didn’t love others. Now that some time has passed and I’ve read other reviews etc, my feelings about it are the same really – I’m glad I read it, but I didn’t really enjoy it, and I’m not going to rave about it as one of the best books ever, which is the way that most people seem to feel about it. There are sad books, and then are just unnecessarily traumatising voyages into misery. Sorry. My post here.
Picador (UK) cover, 2015. (image: goodreads.com)
Unsurprisingly I needed some light relief after all that trauma, so I read Watch Me by Anjelica Huston, the second instalment of her memoir. I loved this – well written and structured, genuinely interesting, and very charming and enjoyable. My blog post here covers this and the first volume, mentioned earlier.
And then, the last four books I read, which I have blogged about more recently: The Last Asylum by Barbara Taylor, which I loved and spoke about here in my first booktube post….
Hamish Hamilton 2014 edition (image: goodreads.com)
Then it was Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard, which was good but not excellent;
The Sense of an Elephant came next, which was a quirky mystery that I got on with quite well;
and most recently Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson, reviewed here, which was really weird and really good. I wil definitely be reading more Shirley Jackson!
2013 PMC edition (image: goodreads.com)
And of course there was the book blogger/booktube meet-up back in July, which was a fantastic day. I finally met Kirsty of The Literary Sisters, as well as lots of other lovely bloggers. We did a bookshop crawl (and I bought some books, big surprise), and had a fab day out in London. It was a bit of an adventure, and something I would definitely do again. My post about it here; this is Kirsty’s video; and posts/videos from Katie, Jordan, and Stevie. And here is Stevie’s great photo of us all, tweeted by Jen Campbell:
So not a bad summer!!
How was your summer??