June was as weird a month as we’ve all come to expect, but there were definitely some positives amidst the madness, including some great books! I read 10 in all, bringing my total for the year so far up to 61. Here are some brief thoughts on each of them, with links to my full reviews if you’d like to know more.
Ghostly Stories by Celia Fremlin
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] These classic tales of domestic horror are at once quintessential of their period and shrewdly observant of how stifling the female experience can be. Simple yet effective, they were a nice little introduction to Fremlin’s style.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This offers a seamless blend of history, case studies, research, and personal reflection to lay bare just how deep-rooted racism is within the UK, at a structural, education, social, and cultural level. Detailed yet digestible, it’s written with clear-eyed passion and would make a great starting point for those new to race-related non-fiction.
This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] I was pleasantly surprised by how wide this book’s scope was, especially considering its relative brevity. Jewell writes with clarity, compassion and warmth, articulating her every point without condescending those who may be newer to the concepts of ingrained racism and white privilege. Her approach is wonderfully intersectional and nuanced, incorporating many factors that comprise our individual identity and socioeconomic background.
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Written in verse, this is a coming-of-age story about the struggle to make peace with your own identity in a society so eager to pin you down with labels. It indulges in a couple of tropes, but I loved its contemporary tone and realistic yet hopeful approach to difference and self-expression.
Mother Country by Elana Bell
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] A raw and honest poetry collection about the parent-child bond at both the beginning and end of life. I’m sure many will take comfort in seeing their less-than-perfect yet deeply human reality reflected here, but Bell’s style often wasn’t for me.
The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House by Audre Lorde
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This slim volume collects five brilliantly sharp essays on the complex yet crucial intersections between race, gender and sexuality. It made me see some things in a new light, while expressing existing thoughts to perfection. I can’t wait to read more of Lorde’s work.
The Lightness by Emily Temple
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Set at a Buddhist retreat for troubled girls high in the mountains, and carried by an intoxicating atmosphere, there are lots of fascinating themes at play here, ranging from the trappings of the female body to the often fine line between love and rivalry in friendship.
Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This is a phenomenally well curated selection of consistently engaging, gut-punch poems detailing Smith’s experiences as someone who is Black, queer, and HIV positive. The power of Smith’s subject matter is matched by their linguistic craft.
The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Full review to come for BookBrowse.
King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This middle grade novel transcends age range, with enough nuance and intersectionality to resonate equally well with adult readers. The novel deals with lots of big themes, like grief, identity, friendship, internalised homophobia, and systemic racism, without ever feeling rushed.
There we have it! I hope you’re all keeping safe and well, and that July brings lots of great books your way. My favourite read of the month was Don’t Call Us Dead. What was yours?