Somehow, it’s time for another wrap up already! Throughout the month of May, I finished a total of 11 books (6 novels, a novella, a short story collection, a poetry collection, a comic and a non-fiction Little Black Classic). This takes my total for the year so far up to 53, which I’m really pleased with.
Though I certainly still enjoyed my reading, it has to be said that this was probably the most mixed month I’ve had, with a few that didn’t quite live up to expectations and only one five-star read. That stand-out book was We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, a gothic, atmospheric tale that explores themes of isolation, madness, agoraphobia and murder, with a truly memorable protagonist. I can’t wait to try out another of Jackson’s books.
It was great to pick up books from two of my favourite authors; Daphne du Maurier’s short story collection, The Birds, which continued my love affair with her unsettling tales and evocative writing; and Patrick Ness’ new novel, Release, which explores sexuality, religion and the notions of confrontation and acceptance, both within ourselves and with regards to others.
After Bird Box became one of my favourite reads of last year, it was always going to be tough for Malerman’s novella, A House at the Bottom of a Lake, to live up to it. I felt it was too drawn out and would have worked far better as a short story, but enjoyed the striking images he created and the way he plays with the senses to instil unease.
I read Love is Love, a comic book anthology that was produced in aid of the victims and families affected by the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. With so many contributors, it was a real mixed bag but I appreciated the sentiment behind it. There has been some controversy regarding the writers/artists that were included, with some people upset that there weren’t more LGBT+ contributors. I went into my thoughts on this, and some of the problematic imagery, in my review on Goodreads.
I rate or review everything I read on Goodreads for that matter, so by all means add me over there if you want more in depth thoughts on any of the books (or feel free to ask me in the comments here).
The biggest disappointment this month was sadly The Plague by Albert Camus. It centres around a town that is put into lockdown when a deadly strain of the plague suddenly emerges. It’s often considered allegory for the Nazi occupation of France and the resistance of the human race, and so for a book I expected to be powerful and emotional, I was surprised at how dry, dense and cold I found it. It also bothered me that it’s supposed to focus on a whole community and yet there wasn’t a single female character of any note.
To finish by talking of something a little more positive, however, I really enjoyed Alice Thompson’s bizarre little novel, Burnt Island, which is a very meta, tongue-in-cheek (though dark) riff on the writing process, and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, an approachable exploration of racism in America using poetry and various other mediums.
The month was rounded off with a few other solid reads, and I look forward to seeing what books June brings my way.
What was your favourite read in May?