It’s hard to believe we’ve past the half-way point of the year already, and yet somehow, it’s time for the 7th monthly wrap up of 2017. Throughout July I managed to finish a total of 10 books (5 novels, a novella, a non-fiction book, a poetry chapbook, a graphic novel and a Little Black Classic), taking my total for the year so far up to 73.
The standout read for me was Jo Cox: More in Common, written by her husband, Brendan Cox. For those unfamiliar with her story, Jo was a member of the UK parliament and an international aid campaigner who was murdered by a white supremacist because of her political views on inclusion and equality. Brendan managed to paint the most heartfelt, honest and humane portrait of a remarkable woman, who fought for what she believed in with dignity and positivity as an MP, whilst also being a vibrant, funny and loving mother, wife, sister, friend and daughter. I really appreciated that he didn’t portray her as a victim or some saintly figure now that she’s gone, but as a very real, very good person, whose ethos was summed up in her own maiden speech to parliament, during which she famously said: “We are far more united, and have far more in common, than that which divides us.”
Another favourite was The Naming of Cancer by Tracey S. Rosenberg, a short collection of accessible yet powerful poems about the experience of cancer from various different perspectives, be it the person living with the condition, the spouse watching as their lover suffers, the colleague not sure what to say to their bereaved workmate, or the cancer cells themselves as they lament the death of their host. It was a very well executed concept.
I also thoroughly enjoyed The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark, which chronicles an unstable woman’s journey towards self-destruction; The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie, a fun tale of missing diamonds, murder, mistaken identities and a determined young woman in her quest for the truth; and Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, a tender little story about two lonely old people seeking comfort from one another and re-discovering their will to live.
The Little Black Classic was The Sea Raiders, a collection of three short stories by H.G. Wells, an author whose work I’m finding myself increasingly impressed by. The graphic novel, Lost & Found by Shaun Tan, was actually a collection of three short graphic works, that each tackle serious issues with a whimsical flair, courtesy of Tan’s gorgeous, expressive artwork. I also enjoyed reading Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, having grown up with the Disney version but without having ever read the original text. It was, as you may expect, somewhat darker that the animated film we all know and love, and I liked that each chapter was like its own little fable, in which Pinocchio learned the importance of another attribute needed to be a ‘good’ and ‘real’ boy. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh was the thriller-of-the-moment a while ago, and whilst it wasn’t anything ground breaking, I did appreciate the bigger focus on character development than many books of its kind, and it kept me occupied on my flights to and from Barcelona.
Lastly, I read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, the modern classic about a population crisis in the future that leads to dramatic societal shifts, in which the few remaining fertile women must bear children for the couples who can no longer conceive naturally. Conceptually and thematically, there was a lot about this book that I appreciated and respected, but unfortunately it didn’t wow me the way I hoped it would, and I found several elements jarring. I went into a lot of detail about my thoughts in my review on Goodreads, so by all means check that out if you’d like to know why I struggled to fully connect with it.
All-in-all, it was a very enjoyable reading month and I can’t wait to see what books August will bring my way.
What was your favourite read in July?