This month’s reading takes us (OK, me) from rural Ireland in the 1960s, to the tobacco plantations of antebellum Virginia, to politely Islamophobic contemporary middle England, via deep underground cities and sinister man-made structures hidden in the bowels of the earth.
Robert Macfarlane’s Underland was the stand-out read for me this month, a fascinating but gruelling (for him anyway) exploration and thoughtful meditation on What Lies Beneath, physically and psychologically, and our primal relationship with natural, human-made and spiritual underworlds. Ayisha Malik’s This green and pleasant land features this month’s most adorable character, the secret poet and accidental peacemaker Aunty Rukhsana; The country girls features total bitch of the month, the heroine’s toxic ‘best friend’ Baba, a mean, manipulative floozy who of course gets all the good lines. The water dancer and The seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle both suffered a slow puncture – zipping along nicely at the start and then gradually but completely deflating. This (unless I’m just a bit unlucky with my reading choices) feels like such a common thing in contemporary fiction – anyone else find that?
Going to focus on some Black History Month reads – lined up so far:
Natives: race and class in the ruins of empire by Akala
Between the world and me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
My name is Leon by Kit de Waal
Their eyes were watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Quicksand by Nella Larsen
The lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon
And Mr Wilder and me by Jonathan Coe – advance copy of one my absolute favourite authors, exciting!
If you’ve read this far, you might be interested to know that I’ve started a little facebook book group with a friend. It’s just for general chit-chat about books and recommendations etc with fellow bookworms, no set texts to read or anything. If you’d like to join, you’d be very welcome – just let me know!