The Custard Heart – Dorothy Parker (Penguin Modern Classic)

A collection of three short stories by Dorothy Parker. I’ve not read any Dorothy Parker before. I have The Portable Dorothy Parker ready to be read. But at 650+ pages it’s a bit daunting. This Penguin Mini Modern Classic is a good way to try a few pieces of her work out and then decide if I want to attempt the giant collection of stories, poems, and reviews.

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Train booze and train reading. They were £1 each AND 3 for 2!

I really enjoyed these three stories. All set around the Jazz age. All a bit tragic. All custardheart1heartbreaking and a bit sad. The middle story, and longest, Big Blonde was my favourite. About a women’s descent into alcoholism and her reliance on men for her existence.

These three stories have really made me look forward to reading the longer collection of Parker’s work.

 

 

 

 

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Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies – ed. by Scarlett Curtis

This is a nice collection of essays on feminism, edited by Scarlett Curtis. A large number of celebrities, artists, activists, and others are all explaining what feminism means to them (52, I believe). This means you get a very diverse range of responses, and there’s something in here for everyone. It’s been published with the UN’s Girl Up Foundation, and all profits got to them.

The book is divided into sections Epiphany, Anger, Joy, Poetry Break, Action, and Education. No surprises that my favourite essays were in Anger and Action.

I felt strongly that the first section would be a great read for someone just starting to realise they are a feminist, and may help someone who is just starting to understand the issues involved. I found this section to be personally the least interesting, although it is good to hear from younger women about how they discovered they were feminists.

The later sections were where I really connected with a lot of the writing. Particularly I loved Jameela Jamil’s essay on raising boys, and Keira Knightly’s on her daughter. Both very moving, and very powerful. Both obviously issues that are very important and close to my heart as I have a son and a daughter.

I, of course, also loved the essay on Co-Parenting by Sharmadean Reid. She states the case for separated parents to share child rearing responsibilities 50/50. It’s so obvious, yet it’s unusual. I have been in this situation for a few years now, and from the break up we have shared parenting 50/50. It’s great, honestly. I see so much resistance to it from people I know. Often from the mother who doesn’t trust the father with this responsibility. I can see where this may be valid (from both sides too, with useless mothers and fathers existing), but mostly you chose a decent person to procreate with. Let them shoulder half the job. Don’t let them swoop in for a fun weekend every fortnight. Let them have to remember when parents evening is, or when they need a packed lunch sending in, or when a birthday party is and a present must be bought for it. Don’t take the day to day care away from the other parent. Let them parent too.

There are benefits for everyone involved. The kids still get half the time with both parents. The Father (because it’s mostly the father who ends up in this low contact time situation) gets to parent just as much. And you get HALF YOUR TIME TO YOURSELF. Rejoice. You can get shit done. You can date, and have a life, and run a business, whatever you like with this regained time. In Reid’s essay, she says she wouldn’t have been able to set up and run her successful business without this parenting arrangement.

Who wrote the rule that single fathers only see their children every other weekend? This was a plot line that I scrubbed out of my life. I am not going to pretend it was easy. I would budget five years of emotional hardship for you to hold on to consistency and routine, and to discover with your co-parent what works for you both and your child together as a family. It’s not an easy ride, but stand firm! I promise, it’s worth it.

This is just one of the 52 essays in Feminists Don’t Wear Pink, and honestly is covers such a broad range of topics, it’s just the parenting ones that currently say the most to me and my life.

Another stand out essay for me was Dismantling and Destroying Internalized Misogyny: To-Do List by Dolly Alderton. Now I need to read her book immediately.

I also loved the essay Baker-Miller Pink in the Education section (written by Scarlett Curtis). I hadn’t. even. heard. of. this. before. Suddenly I want to paint my house in it.

Baker-Miller Pink: the calming colour

Overall, a huge coverage of issues in Feminists Don’t Wear Pink. An enjoyable, informative, eye opening, celebratory, collection of essays.

Books Bought and Read April 2019

Slowly catching up with these!

Books Bought

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The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J. Harris. This was for May book club. I ended up not getting around to reading it, and not being able to attend the book club. 😦

And that’s it! I’m doing very well with the not buying books thing. Shame I’m also reading the slowest ever, so hardly shifting any of the tbr!

Books Read

Click on the book title to go to my review of the book.

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Cold Bath Street by A. J. Hartley

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dark Dark by Samantha Hunt            darkdark3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m reading sooooooooooo sloooooooowwwwlllllyyyyyy this year!

Other Blog Posts

The Jhalak Prize Longlist.

I wrote about this great prize because it was won last year by the great Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (my review here). It’s a prize for writers of colour, and two of my favourite books from last year, were on the longlist. Happily one of them won, In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne (my review is here).

The Dark Dark – Samantha Hunt

A collection of really creepy, bizarre, thoughtful, short stories. Some of these have stayed with me for weeks after reading them, and those are the sort of short stories I love.

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I am currently reading more short stories because I’m doing a short story writing course with UCLAN and Comma Press. This gave me the motivation to finally pick up The Dark Dark – a book I’ve had waiting to be read for about a year.

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The back of the book describes it as:

Step into The Dark Dark, where an award winning , acclaimed novelist debuts her first collection of short stories and conjures entire universes in just a few pages  – conjures, splits in half, mines for humor, destroys with absurdity, and regenerates. In prose that sparkles and haunts, Samantha Hunt playfully pushes the bounds of the expected and fills every corner with vibrant life, imagining numerous ways in which the weird might poke its way through the mundane. Each of these ten haunting, inventive tales brings us to the brink – of creation, mortality and immortality, infidelity and transformation, technological innovation and historical reinvention, loneliness and communion, and every kind of love.

Laced with lyricism, hope, and Hunt’s characteristic sly wit, illuminated by her unflinching gaze into the ordinary horrors of human existence, The Dark Dark celebrates the mysteries and connections that swirl around us. It’s never all the same, Hunt Tells us. It changes a tiny bit every time. See for yourself.

I love stories that are a bit dark and a bit odd, and a bit feminist, and just a bit creepy and weird. Honestly, the short stories I’ve read recently that are about someone just wandering about thinking about their lives (I’m looking at you, Joyce). or some other dull events, just don’t do it for me. But clones, and really weird, mind bending recursion within a story, or… robots… Yes.  In fact, just flicking back through the book, I’ve just realised two of the stories contain the same start! I really need to reread the whole thing. I loved this collection.

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I’m being careful to not spoil any of the stories, so what I’m about to describe is extremely vague! One story ends with a very emotional experience of the main character, but it is overshadowed by world events happening around them. I loved this, it was heartbreaking. There are so many moments from these stories that I keep finding myself thinking about, and that is really telling me how great they were.

I would definitely recommend this collection.

Cold Bath Street – A. J. Hartley

A ghostly story, set in Preston, read for book club. I really liked this story. I enjoyed the local setting – a real novelty. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set so firmly in a place I’m familiar with. I liked the ghostly premise, and found the story page turning. However, many at book club didn’t quite take to it as kindly. I felt like it was people who were really into this genre considered it a bit light – possibly a YA ghost story. I didn’t get that at all, but then I’m a massive wimp and probably couldn’t cope with anything more scary!!

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The cover of the book is stunning. I noticed the creepy face in the clouds fairly early on, but there’s also a creepy figure next to the boy and I didn’t notice that until book club. It’s done using a shiny overlay and it was great that it took a while to notice.

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I can’t separate out the fact that I enjoyed the story and really liked that I knew the locations involved. I know the streets around Ribbleton, Avenham park, the Harris Museum and Art gallery, the Miley tunnel, and of course Cold Bath Street.

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It’s a tiny street near the University

My favourite painting from The Harris Museum is even in the story.

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Pauline in the Yellow Dress by Herbert James Gunn

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Aaaahhh Pauline!

This also nicely shows how beautifully illustrated the text is.  The illustrator is Janet Pickering.

So what is the story about? A boy dies. He gets trapped in limbo. Or The Bardo as I might like to call it since reading Lincoln in the Bardo (jk but that book is ace – do the audiobook though). There are NOT NICE things in this limbo. The living world can be accessed. Sort of, but it’s hard. Mystery and thrilling things ensue.

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book club

Also worth a mention, I found it a little jarring that the main character is called Preston. It just felt a little weird. Overall though, I enjoyed Cold Bath Street. It’s a genre I have almost no experience of, and I think a great introduction to it.

20 Books of Summer 2019 – The Plan

I love the 20 Books Of Summer Challenge (Hosted by Cathy at 746books.com. There’s a link to other blogs of people taking part here too). I’m not always great at completing it, but I like this mid year focus to read a bit more. I really need it this year because my reading habits have just been really off this year.

I love the ritual of choosing the 20 books, knowing full well I won’t read half of them – mostly because I’ll swap some out for books I feel more like reading. I’m not good at planning my reading in advance – I much prefer to read whatever I feel like a the time!

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the books

 

So here goes: My 20 Books of Summer that I will read between 1st June and 1st September 2019:

iliad The Iliad – Homer

I read 2/3 of this last Summer. I will finish it this Summer. Oh yes I will.

 

 

 

 

 

invisiblewomen2Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias In a World Designed for Men – Caroline Criado Perez

I’ve read a little bit of this already and god, I LOVE IT. Of course I do. This is one of my all time favourite types of book. Anyone who talks to me over the next 6 months is going to hear something about this book. So seek me out 😀

 

anyothermouth1Any Other Mouth – Anneliese Makintosh

A short story collection that was recommended on the short story writing course I’m currently doing. When I heard my tutor’s description of it, I knew I had to read it. From the back of the book: “a visciously funny, gut-wrenching and shockingly frank account of sexual misadventure, familial disintegration, loss, hope and self-discovery.” Yes, please.

 

sarahSarah – J. T. Leroy

I’ve had this one hanging around for about a year. Recommended to me by a friend. The friend has seemingly been and gone, but the book remains. I wanted to read it, then when I heard about the associated documentary about the author, I really really wanted to read it. Then I can watch the documentary film too.  (Author: The JT Leroy Story)

 

 

I Hate The Internet – Jarett Kobek

I have heard this recommended on the Bookshambles podcast. I like the sound of it, but honestly, this is probably a prime candidate for getting bumped off the list.

 

 

 

 

 

Nina Is Not OK – Shappi Khorsandi

I’ve had this for a few years and it just looks like it would be a really good, hopefully funny, read. I’m never going to get round to it unless I put it on a list like this.

 

 

 

 

 

transcription1Transcription – Kate Atkinson

My first Kate Atkinson book! I’ve already started it because it’s the next book for the Continental book club. I will finish it after June 1st though, so it counts. 😀 Plus I’m only 30 pages in so far.  Absolutely missed opportunity to take a photo of this book with this dress, that I wore twice last week, once when my hair also matched. D’oh. I’ve had a serious haircut since I took this picture too!

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At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails – Sarah Bakewell

Honestly, this is probably another bump book. I really want to read it, but it’s soooooo big. We will see…

 

 

 

 

 

itsnotabouttheburqa1It’s Not About the Burqa – ed. by Mariam Khan

I’ve read a few essays from this already. All the essays are by muslim women talking about faith, feminism, sexuality and race. It’s a really interesting book.

 

 

 

Why I Am so Clever – Friedrich Nietzsche

I’m always putting Nietzsche as the hopeful answer to quiz questions. So maybe I should read something by him and I might start being able to answer ‘Nietzsche’ for the answer to the right questions.  I don’t want to dive right in with some giant book by him, but I do have this neat little Penguin Classic as a starter. The tiny size is a bonus to me that means it is likely to actually get read.

 

 

xenofeminist1The Xenofeminist Manifesto – Laboria Cuboniks

My mate said I’d like it, and she reads ace feminist books. Plus it’s tiny!

 

 

 

 

Classic Stories 1 – Ray Bradbury

As I’ve already mentioned at least a few times, I’m doing a short story writing course at the moment. So I’m reading more short stories. I’m afraid the boring ones about everyday life don’t really do it for me – I prefer the weirder ones. So I’m confidently putting this Bradbury collection on my to read soon list. Look at the cover, the sun is tiny and having a brew.

 

 

 

Four Bare Legs in a Bed – Helen Simpson

Another short story collection to read. I’ve read some Helen Simpson before (Motherhood, reviewed here, and I really liked her writing). It’s another fairly small book too – trying to build in the ability to pass this challenge!

 

 

 

 

antisocialfamily1The Anti-social Family – Michele Barrett and Mary McIntosh

From 1981, a quite academic book on why the nuclear family isn’t all that. I just like reading stuff that reaffirms my life choices.

 

 

 

 

milkman1Milkman – Anna Burns

Originally I was going to read this for a book club that I think isn’t going to happen. But I’ve started, so I’d like to finish (I’m on p18). I’ve heard soooo much about this book and really want to get in on some of the discussion (I’ll be there when everyone else has long moved on).

 

 

 

Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur

Another one I’m very late to, but I wanted to include a poetry book on my list. I’ve read some of it already, but didn’t then use a bookmark so I’ve no idea where I got to.

 

 

 

 

 

Callthembythe1Call Them By Their True Names – Rebecca Solnit

Anyone who has read a little bit of my blog must know how much I love Rebecca Solnit. Her writing is so good. I have a few of her books waiting to be read, but I don’t just want to binge through them all in a few months, so I’ve been gently pacing them. This is the one for this summer.

 

 

Radical Happiness: Moments of Collective Joy – Lynne Segal

Probably need to read this book a lot more than I realise. From the back of the book: “In an age of increasing individualism, we have never been more alone and miserable. Leading feminist thinker Lynne Segal believes we have lost the art of radical happiness – the capacity for transformative, collective joy.  Radical Happiness is a passionate call for the rediscovery of the political and emotional energies that emerge when we learn to share our lives.” A lot of that sounds a bit terrifying to me, but probably useful and good. Can’t wait to review it!

 

 

Storm in a Teacup: the Physics of Everyday Life – Helen Czerski

I feel like I’ve been chipping away at this for years, and yet I really enjoy it. It’s a great book about different areas of physics and how they apply to everyday phenomena. Guess I just struggle to read about physics for fun, when physics is work too.

 

 

 

Artemis – Andy Weir

I loved The Martian, and have heard very mixed reviews about Artemis. I want to read it and see where I fall with it! I expect I’ll love it!

 

 

 

 

 

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all the books together

So that’s the list! Wish me luck!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

A young journalist, Monique Grant, is unexpectedly requested to interview Evelyn Hugo – rich, reclusive, old time Hollywood Mega Star. We know from the beginning that she must have been chosen for some reason, but we don’t know what that is…

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I enjoyed Seven Husbands. I didn’t get the reveal until it was revealed, so that was pleasing. If *I* manage to guess what is going to happen, then it really must be tragically obvious.

The book is set up with this mystery about why Monique has been chosen to interview Evelyn. We go back to the present every now and again, but the focus of the book is on Evelyn telling her life story. The book is split into sections named after each of Evelyn’s husbands. Each with adjectives describing the husband. I liked this as a way of introducing the tone of the next marriage. There are also occasional newspaper articles on Evelyn and her life.

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I suggested Seven Husbands for my book club. It was generally thought of as OK, but there’s not much to discuss about it, other than it was an enjoyable story. The funniest thing was someone noticing that it was the number 1 book in erotic bisexual fiction on Amazon. I’m afraid this might have left a few people a bit disappointed by the content! It’s, sadly, an extremely tame book in this respect!

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It’s essentially a good read. Hollywood love story, fame, love that can’t be made public, part mystery, glamour, dark secrets, it’s got a lot going on. Just don’t pick it for book club!