When I sat down to write this post my mind went completely blank. I couldn't remember a single book I'd read. Thank goodness for Goodreads, or I'd still be scratching my forehead.
I'm still reading in ten or fifteen minute chunks when I can grab them either during a feed or sitting in the park as Baby Bird naps in his pram (he always wakes up as soon as we walk through the front door, always!). It's not my preferred style of reading - I'm one of those read-a-book-a-day kinda beach holiday goers, but it is reading and right now any kind of reading is doing a lot to keep me feeling normal and reminding me how much I love stories, words and writing.
Here's what I read this month.
I've long wanted to read Lorrie Moore as I've read several articles referring to her as a pioneer of the modern American literary short story. One article actually stated that her style now seems a little passé if you happen to come to her for the first time in recent years because she has been emulated and copied so much in contemporary fiction. I think this was partly why I wasn't bowled over by this short collection of stories, but that's not to say that I didn't enjoy it. I really did enjoy it and several of the stories kept me entertained and of a considering mind long after I'd finished them.
It's hard to describe her writing. It's not beautiful in a flowery way, and it wasn't easy to find it moving when I really wanted to, but her prose does conjure up something and the stories - the characters, the plots, the scenarios - are certainly wonderfully original. I can't say that it's the best collection of stories I've ever picked up but I can say that I'd like to read more of her work, and if someone said that to me about my books I'd be a very, very happy author.
As the mother of a newborn baby, you should need no explanation as to why this book was included in this month's reading list. Because I know the majority of my readers won't be that interested in infant sleep issues, I'll keep this review short. This book has helped us set a bedtime routine and deal with times when Baby Bird doesn't settle immediately, but more importantly it taught me a lot about sleep in general which certainly enlightened me. It also served as a reminder that sleep is incredibly important, not just for BB and his development but also for both my and NewMan's health and sanity. Of course, it's one thing to know this and it's quite another to achieve exactly what you hope to. It's too early to say if this book is the best possible book you can read on sleep for babies and small children but it's certainly helped us.
I read a review of this novel while I was still pregnant and was equally as intrigued as I was scared to read it. Considering its main theme is post-natal depression and the ups and downs of the first year of motherhood, it was a big risk reading this less than two months after giving birth. However, it paid off as I devoured this book, picking it up at any possible moment I could. Yes, it's a little abstract in places. Yes, it gets angry and is more than a little bit "ranty", but all of this was strangely therapeutic. I nodded along with the main character's struggle as much as I shook my head at parts of her experience that I simply couldn't understand no matter how hard I tried, but still I was fascinated by these seeming absurdities. This book was not easy reading, but it was compelling reading and that is a combination I will always, always treasure in good fiction.
I had no idea this book was about to be released as a big blockbuster Hollywood movie when I downloaded it to read. My motivation was more to do with the fact the author originally self-published the story (in segments online at first) and then it was snapped up by a big name publisher. It was widely applauded for both its in-depth research and for taking all this detail and making the story of a NASA astronaut stranded on Mars as technically and scientifically believable. There is no arguing that the novel is flooded with technical detail and mind-boggling amounts of detail. Therein lies the main problem for me.. Sci-fi, space fiction, Mars memoirs - whatever genre this book falls into - these just aren't my cup of tea and so once Mr Weir got stuck into regurgitating all the facts he'd clearly studied at great length, I switched off and didn't switch on again until the plot had moved past the technical point that was being made. I therefore can't recommend this book unless you either don't mind overdosing on space-related science fiction, or you're quite happy to skip huge chunks of a story in order to stay interested.
So that's me for this month. What have you enjoyed reading recently?
Frances M. Thompson
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