Category Archives: books roundup

Books Bought and Read – September 2017

Overall a slow month for reading. New term at school though, and littlest starting school, so it was always going to be a struggle to fit it in. Still bought a bazillion books though…

Books Bought

A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing – Eimear McBride. Finally got a copy of this. It’s been hovering near the top of my ‘must be read’ list for a few years, and now I actually have a copy I will get around to it probably sooner! I finally bought it after hearing it be praised on the Bookshambles podcast – source of lots of my book purchases!

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The Sun is also a Star – Nicola Yoon. Kindle bargain and I’ve heard good things about it.

Oxfam books visit. Can’t leave without a handful of them! This was my birthday visit too. I got:

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Steven Chbosky
  • The Earthsea Quartet – Ursula Le Guin
  • Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
  • Einstein Dreams – Alan Lightman

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Now for a trio of physics books, because I needed to buy a prize for a poster competition I ran at work.

  • Seven Brief Lessons on Physics – Carlo Rovelli
  • Storm in a Teacup – Helen Czerski 
  • Forces of Nature – Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen. 

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Ended up giving Storm in a Teacup away because it’s the one I most want to read myself. Of course, I now need to buy it gain so I can read it…

The Secret Pilgrim – John Le Carre. kindle deal and bought due to my extremely long term plan to read all of his books. I know own 5 times more than I have ever read. It’s going great!

Books Read

Click for links to reviews.

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens – Eddie Izzard.

The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead.

See I said it was a slow one!

Bedtime Stories

Tried to get my oldest child (age 7) to have something newer and more exciting to read at bedtime, but he insists on us read the Faraway Tree books again! He just loves them. Saucepan Man and all that.

The Enchanted Wood – Enid Blyton

Folk of The Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton

Also with the small one:

A German picture book that we have to look at all the pictures in. OMG.

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Books Bought and Read – August 2017

A slow month for buying and reading. I thought I’d be able to read loads in the Summer holiday, but of course that hasn’t really happened! Children needed entertaining. Pfft! 😉

Books Bought

Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman (127p kindle deal). I wanted a paper version of this, but the kindle deal was too great a bargain to miss.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal – Jeanette Winterson. In October I’m going to see Jeanette Winterson interviewing Rebecca Solnit as part of the Manchester Literature Festival. I haven’t read anything by Jeanette Winterson and saw a recommendation for this.

Antigone – Sophocles (Penguin Little Black Classic). I am going to read a book soon (Home Fires – Kamila Shamsie) that I read is based on Antigone. I don’t know this story so thought I’d better start here!

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Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood. This is a book club choice for October. Huge so need to make sure I start early.

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Watch out! 3 paperbooks for £10 deal:

The Hate You Give – Angie Thomas. My good friend Clancy, book recommender extrodinairre, told me to read this. I’d already heard great things about it, so I am!

The Girl With All the Gifts – M. R. Carey. I tried to watch the film, but it was TOO SCARY. So Clancy appears to tell me the book is great! So I’d rather tackle the book again than the film – which looked great, if you are less of a wimp than me (not difficult) you should watch it!

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (Song of Ice & Fire Prequel) – George R.R. Martin. I read and loved the Whole Song of Fire and Ice books. Funnily enogh it was Clancy who recommended these to me too!!!!

and I also bought:

Staring At The Sun: Being at peace with your own mortality: Overcoming the Dread of Death – Irvin Yalom. I’ve had an awful time this month. I remembered I heard them talking about this on A Good Read and thought it might be a good time to read it myself.

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Finally, I preordered a book that looks AMAZING, out in October:

Ad Astra: An Illustrated Guide To Leaving The Planet – Dallas Campbell

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Books Read

Click for a link to the review, if it exists!

Lincoln In The Bardo – George Saunders

The Beautiful Bureaucrat – Helen Philips

Hope In The Dark – Rebecca Solnit

How Hard Can Love Be? – Holly Bourne

The Seed Collectors – Scarlett Thomas

 

Bedtime Stories

Boy – Roald Dahl. Wow, I’ve never read this before.I wasn’t sure how my son would like it as it’s a collection of stories from Roald Dahl’s childhood. He seems to like it though. Probably helped by our visit to the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden early on in the month. I  cried my eyes out during the one where he talks about the last phone call he had with his mother, where she knew she was going to die, but he didn’t.

Rosie Revere Engineer – Andrea Beaty. The same night I read the chapter of Boy that made me sob. My daughter chose this book and I can’t get through this one without welling up! I love love love this book.

Bedtime Stories for Girls – Like the evil twin of the nice books I buy. Daughter obviously loves it.

The Scarecrow’s Hat – Ken Brown. 

5 minute Christmas Stories. We’ve read these for a whole week now every night. How seasonal?!

 

20 Books of Summer – 2 months in update #20booksofsummer

I’m now up to fourteen books read – eight read in July. Helped by being on holiday for the last few weeks while my kids were still at school! As you can see, the idea that I can plan my reading in advance is a total nonsense. I have only read six from the original list of twenty books I made, and three of those were book club reads that I *had* to read.

Six have been netgalley reads after I went a bit crazy requesting books and then realised they were going to have to dominate my reading to get through them! I’m nearly through them and have now done the exact same thing with requesting Man Booker Prize longlist titles…

Two have been audio books. This has been great on my commute to work (40 mins each way). Not so much since I’ve been on my summer holidays.

And one was over 500 pages!

I have one month left on this challenge and I think I should be ok to get though 6 more books and reach my target!

  1. The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry (review)
  2. Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng (review)
  3. Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor (review)
  4. the Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
  5. Hope in the Dark – Rebecca Solnit
  6. Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit (review)
  7. Nobody Told Me – Holly McNish
  8. Dear Fatty – Dawn French
  9. Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
  10. The Power – Naomi Alderman (review)
  11. The Lottery (and other stories) – Shirley Jackson
  12. Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  13. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
  14. The Jungle – Upton Sinclair
  15. A Quiet Storm – Rachel Howzell Hall
  16. How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran
  17. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  18. The Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave (review)
  19. Wonder – RJ Palacio
  20. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  21. Queen of Spades – Michael Shou-Yung Shum
  22. Living the Dream – Lauren Berry (review)
  23. Inferior – Angela Saini (review)
  24. Holidays On Ice – David Sedaris (review)
  25. The Unseen – Roy Jacobsen (review)
  26. Nasty Women – 404Ink (review)
  27. All Grown Up – Jami Attenberg (review)
  28. Anger Is An Energy – John Lydon (review)

Books Bought and Read – July 2017

Bought

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. I love this book. The stories of loads of amazing women written like fairy stories with amazing illustrations. I just want books like this lying around my house for my children to pick up and look through!

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small girl looking at the fabulous illustrations

Bit of a kindle 99p sale spree:

  • The Circle – Dave Eggers
  • Alice – Christina Henry
  • Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones
  • I am Malala – Malala Yousafzai
  • Still Alice – Lisa Genova
  • Anger is an energy – John Lydon

Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi. I’ve been after this for ages and it popped up on a lightning deal for under £5.

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The Seed Collectors – Scarlett Thomas. The next book for a book club I’m in. I don’t know anything about it.

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Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty. 99p kindle deal. I LOVED the TV series of this

I’ve decided I should always have an audiobook on the go, so have been getting the audible daily deal. I won’t get many listened to until I’m back at work at the end of August though. I’ve now got:

  • Engleby – Sebastian Faulks 
  • Swimming Lessons – Claire Fuller
  • Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders

Hot Milk – Deborah Levy (99p kindle deal). I’ve seen too many giant book shop displays of this to pass it by.

After the Man Booker Prize longlist announcement I had to buy a couple of them to read so I picked up:

Solar Bones – Mike McCormack. It’s one sentence. I’m intrigued!

Swing Time – Zadie Smith. I have on goodreads that I’ve read White Teeth, but reading the plot summary I’m not sure I ever actually did read it! So this might be my first Zadie Smith.

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More kindle 99p deals:

  • The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell
  • Dark Places – Gillian Flynn

Read

Click to link through to the review:

Anger Is An Energy – John Lydon

A Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave

All Grown Up – Jami Attenberg

Nasty Women – 404Ink

The Unseen – Roy Jacobsen

Holidays On Ice – David Sedaris

Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor

Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng

Bedtime Stories with my Children

Diary of a Minecraft Zombie – Book 1. Utter trash that my son adores.

Danny the Champion of the World – Roald Dahl. I didn’t think I’d ever read this one before but the story seems familiar, so I must have read it once as a child.

Matilda – Roald Dahl. Again!

The Witches – Roald Dahl. Genuinely terrifying!

Picasso and the girl with the ponytail – Laurence Anholt. I know… it’s great though!

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Cinderella. *yawn*

Aliens Love Underpants – Claire Freedman and Ben Cort. -The noisy book version. At least it’s over quickly…

The Mid Year Freak Out! Tag

I haven’t been tagged by anyone to answer these questions. I have just seen the tag and liked the idea of summing up my reading for this year with these questions 😀
So far this year I have read 42 books – way above my target, and around double what I have managed for the last few years, each year. I’ve managed this by just fitting in a bit of reading where I can: waiting for the kettle to boil, 20 mins in the morning, a bit at lunchtime etc. and I’ve been watching less TV! Not none… I’ve had to watch American Gods and The Handmaid’s Tale, and University Challenge and Only Connect obvs. 

1. BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2017?

Impossible to pick one, and difficult to narrow it down because I’ve really enjoyed a lot of books I’ve read this year. The top ones have to be the ones I gave 5*s to. You might not believe it, but I’m quite stingy with my 5*s!!! (click through for reviews):

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2. BEST SEQUEL OF 2017 SO FAR?

I’ve not strictly read anything that’s a sequel so far this year. I’ve been meaning to read Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Sword for a while after reading Ancillary Justice a few years ago. I’m going to have to pick John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came in from The Cold. I’m on a (very slow) mission to read all of Le Carre’s books. So that’s book 3 done… in 4 years. Might need to get a few more out of the way soon!

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3. NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET, BUT WANT TO?

Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ I’ve had my eye on this all year but haven’t got a copy yet.

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Out of the books I own, that I haven’t read yet, that are also quite new, these are the ones I most want to try but haven’t got round to yet:

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4. MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE OF THE SECOND HALF OF 2017?

One book I’m looking forward to is The Book Of Joan – Lidia Yuknavitch although I don’t think it’s out in the UK until 2018? It’s been described as:

a genre-defying masterpiece that may very well rewire your brain

See? sounds awesome!

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Also, The Mother of All Questions – Rebecca Solnit, a follow up collection of essays, on feminism, to Me Explain Things To Me. 

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5. BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT?

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor. Click through to the review if you must! I much prefer liking books!

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6. BIGGEST SURPRISE?

Frankenstein – Mary Shelly. I really enjoyed it, and I didn’t mention it in my review, but reading a bit about Mary Shelly herself was fascinating.  I really want to read Romantic Outlaws – Charlotte Gordon now too – especially after a friend also recommended it to me a while before I  read Frankenstein. It’s about Mary Shelly and her mother Mary Wollstonecraft.

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7. FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR (DEBUT OR NEW TO YOU) ?

I’m going to choose Celeste Ng and Lauren Berry. Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You is just beautifully written and I can’t wait for her next book Little Fires Everywhere. Lauren Berry’s Living The Dream was hilarious and one of the funniest, most relatable books I’ve read in ages.

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8. NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH?

Hmmmm might have to be Shadow Moon from American Gods, probably more influenced by the TV show than the book!

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He’s no Rupert Campbell-Black or Richard Sharpe though, obvs.

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9. NEWEST FAVOURITE CHARACTER?

I’m going with Francie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith. She’s a strong and determined character and she grows into a kind and thoughtful woman over the course of the novel. Also, she loves books.

10. BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY?

Without doubt this award has to go to Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I sobbed through the last 20 pages and wasn’t much better at various other stages of the book. There was something about the main character having my name, probably being around my age, and being unable to get on with a career as a scientist… also trying to make sure your female children aren’t held back by societal sexism, while trying to not damage them and also not ignoring your other kids! Such a good book.

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Runner up for this has to be Beloved – Toni Morrison. Such a beautiful, moving book.

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11. BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY?

I’m not sure about any of them making me particularly happy, but plenty made me laugh.

I’ve read two of David Sedaris’ novels this year: Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Holidays On Ice. He can be completely hilarious. One part of Me Talk Pretty One Day had me uncontrollably laughing.

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Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut made me smile a lot. And Bel Canto by Ann Patchett was the novel that made me feel the  happiest, I guess.

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12. FAVOURITE BOOK TO MOVIE ADAPTATION YOU’VE SEEN THIS YEAR?

 

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13. FAVOURITE REVIEW YOU’VE WRITTEN THIS YEAR?

I’m going with Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit. I loved the book, I loved the artwork in it by Ana Teresa Fernandez – some of which I included in the review, and I loved using this gif:

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14. MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU BOUGHT OR RECEIVED SO FAR THIS YEAR

I’ll just put these beauties here with a gorgeous peony.

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15. WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR?

So many… here’s a shortlist:

and I have started, but need to finish:

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If you want to do this tag? Consider yourself tagged by me and just get on with it!

Let me know your answers to these questions in the comments or leave me a link to your post.

Thanks for reading!

The ‘How I Choose My Books’ Tag

Thanks to Stephanie’s Novel Fiction for tagging me in The ‘How I Choose My Books’ Tag. I’ve never done one of these before but like the questions here and well, I’m done for the summer at work now so I have time! Let’s go!

  1. Find a book on your shelves or ereader with a blue cover. What made you want to pick up this book? 

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The Golden Compass (aka Northern Lights) by Philip Pullman. Book 1 of the His Dark Materials trilogy. The box set I have of this trilogy is goorrrgeeeooouueess. It’s been a long time since I read these (over 10 years) and I’m thinking a re-read should happen soon.

2. Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy, but did. Why did you read it in the first place? 

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This is quite difficult because I’m quite a good judge of if I’m going to like a book or not. That’s maybe quite weird?! I’ve really struggled to find one I thought I wouldn’t like, but really did. The best example I can think of is Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn. I read this because lots of people in my book club raved about it. I had somehow remained spoiler free even though I read it after the film came out! Because of all the hype I expected it to be a bit rubbish (sorry!) but I loved it. AND I loved the film.

3. Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick up a book at random. How did you discover this book? 

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I read a lot of popular science books as a teenager. This would have been new when I bought it so I probably picked it up in a bookshop deal. It’s about how great science is. It’s about how understanding science can increase your sense of imagination and wonder, rather than destroying them.

4. Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?

The Game of Thrones series. This was recommended to me and I hadn’t even heard of it! (It was way pre-TV show becoming a huge thing). I started reading and then read the whole series in six weeks. I just couldn’t stop reading them. Then I discovered the rest of the series hasn’t been written yet.

 

I now basically try to read anything this friend recommends!

5. Pick a book that you discovered through YouTube / book blogs. Did it live up to the hype? 

This one’s a little bit tricky because I don’t use youtube for book reviews. I get most of my recommendations from twitter or articles on books. So I’m going for The Good Immigrant ed. by Nikesh Shukla.

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I became aware of this book when it started popping up on loads of Xmas book recommendation lists last year. I finally got round to reading it earlier this year and I loved it.  It also introduced me to some poets and writers I didn’t know about. One of the best books I’ve read this year.

6. Find a book on your shelves or ereader with a one-word title. What drew you to this book?

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Emma – Jane Austen. I read quite a few Jane Austen books all in a row once. I see the BBC Big Read sticker on this so I must have read them in 2003 in an attempt to read more of the novels I felt I *should* have read. I loved Emma, more than Pride and Prejudice. I really liked Persuasion too. I can’t actually remember which one I like most out of Emma and Persuasion.

Looking at the top 200 in the Big Read I have now read 44 of them and loads of the books I have sat around waiting to read are in there too. Not made too much progress since 2003! Oh dear!

7. What book did you discover through a film / TV adaptation?

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Girl with a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier. I watched and really enjoyed the film. So I read the book and it is fantastic. The only other example I could find where I’ve watched a film or TV programme then read the book is the entire Sharpe series. 😀

8. Think of your all-time favourite book/s. When did you read these and why did you pick them up in the first place?

For me, this means books I read a long time ago and they have stayed with me for various reasons. I have recently read lots of books that I have utterly loved, but I feel like ‘all-time favourites have added longevity! I’ll pick my top five.

Making New Friends – Jane Carruth

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I loved this book as a child. I still have it! The main squirrel is new in town and scared. He gets sent on a playdate and is terrified, but is basically forced to play with the other squirrels, then he has fun. All is well.

In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat – John Gribbin.

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The book that got me really hooked on physics. This book blew my mind when I read it during my A levels. It’s the story of quantum mechanics. What it is, it’s historical development, and what experiments have been carried out to verify it. The original is from 1985 and I must have read it in 1997. At the time I read a lot of popular science physics books and they cemented for me that I wanted to study physics at university. I could easily have put A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking, in here.

The Demon Haunted World – Carl Sagan.

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I have so much love for this book. When I was younger, early to mid teens, I toyed with pseudo-science. I wondered if aliens had really visited us and considered conspiracy theories. I didn’t really know what homeopathy was. This book was exactly what I needed to clear all this up! It’s a love letter to the scientific method and argues for people to use more skeptical and critical thinking.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres.

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I didn’t really realise until this book that you can be emotionally moved so much by a book. I cried through the last few pages and a whole new level of books was opened up to me. I even used the (cheesey) love extract as a reading at my wedding!

V for Vendetta – Alan Moore.

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Another whole genre opened up to me reading this. This fits into the ‘recommended by a friend’ category and the ‘what book did you think you wouldn’t like and actually loved’ category. I didn’t realise before reading this that a graphic novel could build up the same type of world that you get from a novel.

I’m not going to tag anyone here. If you fancy having a go at this tag, please consider yourself tagged and if you decide to make a post, make sure to pingback your answers to me, so I can see them! 😀

Thanks for reading 😀

 

20 books of summer – 1 month in update

I joined the 20 books of Summer Challenge and wrote a list of 20 books I would try and read. They are the first 20 books on this list. I already know I’m no good at planning my reading to this degree, but didn’t think I’d go off plan so quickly! 3 books out of 6 I read this month were off list! I’m clearly a mood reader or something.

Books read in red. Links to reviews if they exist. I’ve started Everything I Never Told You as well, and I’m nearly finished with Reservoir 13 on an audio book free trial because I didn’t want to spend £9 on the kindle version or the hardback (it’s for my book club so I needed to read it before the end of this week). Audible it is. It’s taking a bit of getting used to but I might continue to listen to the odd audio book on my commute. I think some comedy would work well and I have a few books lined up to try on this free trial.

I’m keeping good pace especially considering I have summer holidays soon… so catch up will be easy. I also have a few short books ready to go if I need them.

I absolutely loved The Power. I’m recommending it to everyone who’ll listen! and Inferior is a great book about women and science and where the science has often been wrong, wrong, wrong!

  1. The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry (review)
  2. Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng
  3. Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor
  4. the Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
  5. Hope in the Dark – Rebecca Solnit
  6. Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit (review)
  7. Nobody Told Me – Holly McNish
  8. Dear Fatty – Dawn French
  9. Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
  10. The Power – Naomi Alderman (review)
  11. The Lottery (and other stories) – Shirley Jackson
  12. Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  13. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
  14. The Jungle – Upton Sinclair
  15. A Quiet Storm – Rachel Howzell Hall
  16. How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran
  17. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  18. The Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  19. Wonder – RJ Palacio
  20. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  21. Queen of Spades – Michael Shou-Yung Shum
  22. Living the Dream – Lauren Berry (review)
  23. Inferior – Angela Saini (review)

How’s your summer reading going?