Something a little new for me today. Instead of doing a full book review (my original intention) I thought I’d do a round-up of my January reads.
Purple Hibiscus by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie
This is the first book I finished in January, and it was a good start to my reading year. I’d recently read Things Fall Apart by Chenua Achebe, and really enjoyed reading something about a completely different culture. I had this on my shelf, so I thought I’d give it a go. I’d heard of Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, through her essay and TED talk We Should All be Feminists, but this was my first time reading her.
I found myself completely swept away by the story. It’s about domestic abuse, and a fifteen-year-old girl (Kambili) learning that her home life isn’t the same as her peers. This is set against the backdrop of Nigeria’s unstable political situation. I found that the portrayal of the familial difficulties in the novel really touched me. The characters felt real, and I sympathised a lot with Kambili (she narrates the novel). I’m looking forward to reading more of Adichie’s novels.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
I read this book because it was my book club’s book for January – and it was my suggestion. I suggested it because I’d been recommended it several times at university. I’ve been aware of the book for a while, but all I really knew about it going in was that film had been banned.
So reading the actual was book was quite a surprise. The language was difficult to get into, and the portrayal of violence was quite shocking. I can understand why the film was banned – I wouldn’t want to see it. The made-up language used in the book creates a kind of distance between the reader and the violence, so we only get the context. I don’t think I would have carried on reading it if it had been in plain English. It’s not my favourite novel, but it generates some important topics that are still (sadly) relevant to today’s world.
How to Read a Poem by Terry Eagleton
This is the only non-fiction book I finished in January. It had been sat on my shelf for months as I bought it at the beginning of my poetry module at university. I read it (finally) when it came time to write my assignment. I found it helpful, though some bits were a bit complicated to understand. It’s not a book that gives a lot of explanations for the technical bits about poetry (I prefer James Fenton’s book An Introduction to English Poetry for that), but it gave me a good idea of how to write an analysis of a poem. Which was what I needed at that moment.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
This is the second time I’ve read this story. A few years ago I bought a complete collection of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and read them all. I bought it after watching the first series of the BBC show Sherlock, which I absolutely loved, and have been a Sherlock Holmes fan ever since.
This story is on the reading list for one of my English modules this semester, which is why I re-read it, and honestly now I want to go back and re-read all the other Sherlock Holmes stories.
I feel like The Hound of the Baskervilles is the classic Sherlock Holmes story, about a seemingly demonic hound that is out to kill all the members of the Baskerville family. The story, as usual, is told by Dr Watson, and I think it’s the distance this creates between the reader and Holmes that really makes the stories special, in my eyes. Because we are just as mystified as Watson as to how Holmes solves the mysteries.