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November 23, 2016

Reading spree

I've been on a total book binge since exams finished, since I'm finding it easier to concentrate on new books now I'm not that stressed anymore. I have this thing for reading in cafes, which is costing me a lot of money, so I'm going to have to try and do it more at home or in food courts...

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta. I've enjoyed most things Melina Marchetta has put out, so when I saw it was detective-in-London themed I went and bought it, no questions asked. It's really good - if you've read her other books, you'll know she does twists well. As with most of her writing, it also deals with teens and cultural identity. The romantic relationships in the story didn't quite click with me - they seemed a bit forced.

Fight Like a Girl by Clementine Ford. A rare non-fiction book. Clementine Ford's articles always make me thump the table and exclaim yes, thank you, so I wanted to support her book. The book is good and full of zingers, although dare I say the pop culture references got on my nerves a bit. I agree with everything she says so it would be interesting to hear the opinion of someone whose feminist views differ to mine.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. Set in 19th century Iceland, it's about the last days of a woman to be executed for murder. The plot was a bit predictable, and I wouldn't read it again, but the writing was very atmospheric and I liked the setting.

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh. This one was Booker shortlisted this year. It's from the perspective of a young woman who works at a juvenile correctional facility, and she's definitely one of those characters who are supposed to repulse you. The plot gets almost bizarre, actually. It's a good character study type novel.

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy. Another from the Booker shortlist. It's about a young woman who's travelled with her ill mother to southern Spain for treatment. It gets really weird and surreal, I'm sure there's a lot of symbolism I'm missing. Not really up my alley but I can see how it's objectively well written.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. Set in the 19th century, an English nurse is called to Ireland to monitor a child who is supposedly surviving without eating. Straightforward but I enjoyed it, it was pretty gripping. It also had interesting views of Irish Catholicism through the lens of an English character.

The House of God by Samuel Shem. I've not really read those books people tell you to read if you're going to be a doctor - this one is my first. It's a satirical and sarcastic fictional account of a doctor's intern year. A lot of it rings true, including unfortunately the way that the more jaded doctors talk and think about patients. But I found it hard to keep track of the characters and it went around in circles, so I was kind of bored.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It was almost set up to be a potential new favourite book. Dracula/vampire themed, dark atmosphere, travel scenes (Eastern Europe has now been bumped up my list), a historical mystery... at 75% of the way through I thought it was going to join my list of top books. But the twist and resolution ended up being kind of lame. I would still re-read it for the first part of the book, though.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. An academically gifted but socially awkward teen and her professor father move into a new small town for her final semester of high school. The book has an interesting structure. There are "visual aids" (drawn by the main character) and the writing is littered with in-text citations for her references (not all of which I got). It spends a while setting up its mystery, and then everything is crammed into the end of the book. It gets weird, but it was enjoyable to read overall.

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