July has been my most productive reading month in… well, about four years if I’m being honest. For the first time since 2015, I managed to read on five consecutive days, and even posted a book review for the first time since 2016 (read it here). To celebrate this very rare step forward, I wanted to take the opportunity to give you a run-down of my thoughts of the books I have finished in the month of July, and look forward to what I’m hoping to read next.
Last Chance to See… by Douglas Adams with Mark Carwardine
4.5 stars – Full review here
Last Chance to See… is fundamentally a call to action. Interspersing funny travel anecdotes with expert descriptions of the conditions and conservation efforts of some of the most endangered species in the world, Adams and Carwardine set out not just to experience some of the world’s most endangered species, but to impart that experience on us, bringing us into the seemingly-distant worlds these creatures inhabit. It is impossible as readers not to garner some of the pair’s enthusiasm for the endangered species they uncovered. It is that enthusiasm that will prove essential in saving the countless threatened species of animals and plants fast fading from our planet. Ultimately, if everyone had an ounce of passion for wildlife that Adams garnered from this experience and wrote into this book, maybe many of these species wouldn’t be in such a dire place. As the book and the thirty years lived since its publication espouse, it’s time for us to recognise that passion before it’s too late.
Misogynation: The True Scale of Sexism by Laura Bates
The essays in this collection on sexism tend to be individually strong, but their failings come in compiling them together. The individual essays are succinct (in some instances perhaps too much so), addressing intricacies of sexism and bigotry in depth. However, due to the nature of these essays as various columns and op-eds written across a multi-year period, and a lack of editorial input or deliberate arrangement, there is a lack of coherency binding the collection together. Many essays repeat each other, the themes jump around rather than being grouped into similar ‘parts’, and the chronological jumping makes it hard to place the political contexts. It feels like this book could have done with some refinement.
Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid
A modern classic ‘coming-of-age’ story that is ultimately too short and underdeveloped to pack the punch it is capable of. Annie’s emotions do not develop and grow along with her, rather abruptly swinging like a pendulum from adoration to hatred of everyone around her with no reasoning or motivation. While the mother-daughter relationship is one that I’d love to see a deeper exploration of in literature, the dynamic here is so rushed and feels incredibly insincere. The ending is also extremely rushed – for a book that pitches itself on being about Annie’s development, the major jumps and lack of build up towards the (not-very-complete) conclusion makes the rest of the book feel even more shallow than it already did.
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
This book had me wishing that half-stars on Goodreads were a thing, as neither 3 nor 4 stars can summarise my emotions. This book starts out weak, with uninspiring writing and cliched characters. Towards the end, however, Dellaira begins to handle some very serious and important topics in a very thorough and considered manner, which made the second half of the book a great deal more palatable than the first. While it left me feeling incredibly conflicted by the end, I did read the whole thing in one sitting, so I certainly can’t say it wasn’t a little bit captivating.
Rosa Parks: The Woman Who Ignited a Movement by Hourly History
This is one of a collection of eBooks you will find for free on Kindle Unlimited, and as it is so short I decided to give it a read. As a student of American History, I had to put my previous knowledge to the side and read it through a beginner’s lens, as that is clearly the intended audience for this short. As an introduction it was very clear, and I was impressed with the thorough study of the political and civil rights background that preceded Rosa Parks. For basic knowledge or a refresher, laid out in a concise manner, I don’t think you could go wrong with this. If you’re after something a bit more substantial, or have a historical background already, you might want to turn to a longer book.
The Story of a Photograph: Walker Evans, Ellie Mae Burroughs and the Great Depression by Jerry L. Thompson
This Kindle eBook is predominantly made up of pretentious preamble, with quotes that seem to make little sense dropped into every page. The book does nothing to grab the reader, and despite being very short, it soon became abundantly clear that I was not going to be completing this.
A Pair of Sharp Eyes by Kat Armstrong
Sula by Toni Morrison
Have you read any of these books? If so, thoughts? Do you have any recommendations for books I should pick up next month?
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