In June I read the following 5 books: Underground Railroad, Queenie, The Flat Share, More Than This, and The Queen of Bloody Everything.
I want to start this post with the 2 most important books I read this month. Following all the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests that happened this month I took the time to realise my privilege as a white person and the need to educate myself. What I knew before was not enough. I have to do more. So I ordered some books and took the opportunity to learn through literature — I want to encourage you to do the same (and do more: like sign petitions and donate to charities if you can).
Underground Railroad gives an insight into the harsh realities of slavery. We follow Cora’s escape from the plantation she was born on, but even after she arrives in a new states, she can never fully stop running. I was gripped to this high intensity novel where nothing was stable for Cora.
…anywhere but where you are escaping from. It had gotten her this far. She’d find the terminus or die on the tracks.p.363-4 The Underground Railroad
This was such a heartbreaking novel that constantly had me saying “No just leave her alone, let her be. Let her live, let her go” and to then think that this actually happend to millions of people who were forced into slavery just had me feeling so angry at my lack of education on this. I didn’t even know the underground railroads existed until I was talking to my friend about it who said she learnt about it briefly at school – I thought it was fictional.
Whitehead’s novel has taught me there is so much more to be learnt, and the racism ingrained in our society which dates back so far to inherently benefit white people and disadvantage People of Colour.
“Slavery is a curse, though, that much is true.” Slavery is a sin when whites were put to the yoke, but not the African. All men were created equal, unless we decide you are not a man.p.219 The Underground Railroad
I was so excited to read Queenie. There had been so much hype for it and so many good reviews and lots of people had recommended it to me so I knew I was in for a treat.
I loved the dark humour and the real honesty of Queenie’s mental health struggles. It was truly inspiring seeing her take control of her life again and learn from past mistakes and challenge any boundaries she faced because of her race and gender. Such a well written novel, and tragic to uplifting story — This might be one of my fave books EVER!
If you read any of the books out of this blog post at my recommendation make sure this one makes your list!
2.5 I was also hoping to read Girl, Woman, Other in June and ordered it with some bits on Amazon but it unfortunately was out of stock so took forever to come in the post – It’s on my July reading list.
After having an “oh shit” moment of “This is not the book my friend recommend me. I think I’ve just wasted my money” I realised I could not have been more wrong. I adored this book and demolished it in a couple of days.
O’Leary’s characters in The Flat Share are so charming in their own authentic way, which just made me adore them… especially Tiffy and Leon. I wish they were real human-beings I could meet; they made me both cry and laugh, particularly at their interactions through post-it notes because of course they haven’t even met at the beginning of the book.
Love love loved it!
This book was the feel good book I needed to help me through lockdown, I just wish it lasted me longer than a couple of days!
I have written in more detail about this book in a different blog post here.
More Than This flipped reality and threw me all over the place with my predictions and assumptions as a reader.
We are introduced to Seth who wakes up in his childhood home in a coffin— he thinks he has died and awoken in hell. All he can remember is that he died drowning. Then things begin to get even weirder when he discovers he is not the only one.
Despite seemingly just being a dystopian fiction on the surface, the more I’ve thought about this book the more I’ve realise how deep it is and the philosophical problems it explores along with out attachments to our phones and desperation for normality even when our environment and societal systems is calling for a change– sounds a bit familiar right?
Was so interesting and gripping! This one kept me up way too late — I just needed to know what happened.
My lovely friend Lily posted me The Queen of Bloody Everything as we did a book swap and she did good. Lily sent me this amazing book which explores motherhood and female expectations and relationship. This was such a Lily book as Lily is great at writing about these issues, she looked at motherhood in her dissertation and writes features on female empowerment on her website here.
Each chapter was also written in a different year so you see Dido grow up and her life progress and change. I can’t recall reading a book written like that but it really worked and I really enjoyed it as a style. We are shown Dido’s relationships through life, all whilst being centralised around her relationship with her young mother. It explores; Dido’s and Edie’s deficiency, their similarities, their struggles, their desperation for independence, and their love. It is a comic and tragic read with its dark humour and had me practically shouting at it like you do at the tv just wanting the characters to listen to you and not make those choices.
Whilst writing this blog post I’ve just realised that I’ve been so lucky to have read so many good books this month all tackling different issues. as I said at the beginning of this post I think its really important to learn through literature and I am so glad I took this opportunity to do — I know I still have a lot to learn but I am glad to have made a start with these books.
Thanks for reading this weeks post,
Let me know in the comments if you’re planning on reading any of these books! x
PS. Thanks for being so supportive with me taking a week off last week following the loss of my Nain. I really appreciate all the kind comments. You are all a lovely bunch