Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Year in Books: June

I missed last month's link up with Laura at Circle of Pine Trees as I didn't finish any of my planned reads for April and ended up reading a lot of self help books instead.  I've now decided to abandon this genre as you can see in this post and am enjoying reading again.

So a quick round up of my recent favourites and plans for June.  I'm half way through The Rosie Effect by Graham Simsion, the follow up to The Rosie Project which many other bloggers enjoyed. It's more of the same from the narrator Don and his interpretation of the world around him is touchingly humorous, but I'm finding the plot dragging a little this time.  But an easy bedtime read which is what I want sometimes.

It's my usual habit to read several books at once so I'm also half way through 'Late Fragments: Everything I want to Tell You (About this Magnificent Life) by Kate Gross.  This is a brilliant book and more valuable in its advice about how to be happy than any of the self help books I've read, surprisingly as the book was written by a young woman who is dying.   Kate Gross died of bowel cancer aged 36 on Christmas Day last year , leaving a husband Billy and twin boys aged 5. This book is primarily for her children.  She wrote about her life after her diagnosis as a way of coming to terms with it all,  and preparing herself and her family.  She wrote about her early memories; her family and friends; her awkward teenage years; her impressive career - how she became a policy advisor for Tony Blair when he was Prime Minister and then chief executive of the Africa Governance Initiative. But it's not just the subject matter and the fact she was a successful woman that makes this book so good.  It's also really well written. She's an English Lit graduate and her book is full of quotations from other writers - everything from John Donne to J. K. Rowling. Here's a snippet for you:

'I can spread my childhood memories out like a patchwork quilt.  My quilt is brightly coloured, richly textured, a mix of the familiar and the foreign.  My parents showed me the world form an early age and experiencing it - drinking in the astonishing wonder it provides - has made me who I am.  Because of them ,'the ears of my ears awake and the eyes of my eyes are open', as ee cummings put it.'

I'm looking forward to reading the rest.  How sad that such a talented woman died so young.

In June I'll be finishing these books and hope also to begin 'Bellman and Black' by Diane Setterfield which I'd ordered from the library after reading Penny's comments on it via The Year in Books.

I'm also reading 'Amongst Women' by John McGahern in preparation for a unit of work on Irish Literature which I am teaching in September.

I also get to teach some Seamus Heaney poems which I am looking forward to very much.


  1. Great to read your reviews and you have reminded me that I have a copy of Amongst Women that I've never read. Must dig that out. Thanks for your comments on my last post. I agree that David Nicholls writes 'men' well. Could have been describing my husband in 'Us'! I'm enjoying Nora Webster so far.

  2. I have not hear of either of your June reads. I like the front cover of Amongst Women and I think I would like to read it just for that. I am a bit shallow that way. I had to interpret and discuss a Seamus Heaney poem for my poetry assessment. It was Digging. I enjoyed it so very much. xx

  3. Will be very interested to hear your views on Bellman and Black Doris, hope you enjoy it! Thank you for the mention you, very kind X

  4. I am also looking forward to what you think of Bellman and Black. I've looked at it several times but not picked it as a read for me so far. May be that will change after your review.