My Reading Life: Quarterly Review (April, May, June)

I was getting ready to write my quarterly review of my reading life for the third quarter of the year, and I realised I hadn’t published the second quarter. Later, I found it hiding erroneously in the “published” folder of my “blog” folder on my computer. Very strange. I am posting it now with only a few edits. Here it is:

It’s been another three months! Here’s what I’ve been reading in April, May and June.

Non-fiction

Education

The One-World Schoolhouse, by Salman Khan (5/5).

I loved this book. Khan has some amazing ideas for education and I think some of them might actually be possible. I love his self-led learning website Khan Academy and every time I picked up this book I would think, “Hmm, I would like to do some more maths on this man’s website”.

Motherhood

The Postnatal Depletion Cure, by Dr. Oscar Serralach (4/5).

This book was very helpful for me. Even the title felt healing – the fact that he was naming something I had experienced. Most helpful was the chapter on good food to eat. The final chapter, on relationships was full of heteronormative nonsense based on stereotypes that didn’t apply to me and lost the book a whole star.

Sex Education

Sex God, by Rob Bell (3/5).

I enjoy Rob Bell’s podcast, The Robcast, but I don’t generally enjoy his writing as much. This book was very dated and riddled with toxic Purity Culture teachings.

Memoir

Carry On, Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton (4/5).

I enjoyed this book, but I wish I had read it before I read Love Warrior, her second memoir. Love Warrior is a knock-it-out-of-the-park work of genius (I blogged about it here and here) and Carry On, Warrior was not as good, but a worthwhile read in its own right.

Fiction

The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver (5/5).

I was hoping to enjoy this book and I was not disappointed. Though short, it packed a punch. The description was so rich and immediate. I liked the fact that it was very much set from a very female perspective, while not being overtly feminist. I am looking forward to reading more books by this author.

Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin (4/5).

This was such an odd but good book. I saw the film adaptation a few years ago and remember feeling very tense when the protagonist is behaving in a way that is very wrong. It was interesting being inside her head for it but still not getting much insight as to why she carries on in this way for so long. I liked the slowness of this book and its attention to detail. I have never read a book like this before. Toibin has an original way of dealing with the existential problem that an immigrant has of having a home in more than one place.

On the Other Side, by Carrie Hope Fletcher (3/5).

This book was a big disappointment, yet compulsively readable. I love Carrie Hope Fletcher’s YouTube videos but I won’t bother with any of her other novels. Some parts were good but ultimately the writing was poor.

Transcription, by Kate Atkinson (4/5).

I enjoyed reading this book and right up until the last few chapters I was giving it five stars. But it really slowed down at the end and I got quite confused by all the plot threads.

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, by Jennifer Ryan (3/5).

This was a slightly trashy novel, but quite readable. I am starting to think that I am not that into “trashy” novels. I need a bit more depth and good writing.

Books I abandoned (in no order):

Already blogged about

Billy and Me, by Giovanna Fletcher

Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke

Reading People by Anne Bogel

The Art of Conscious Parenting, by Jeffrey L. Fine, with Dalit Fine

Other

Toddler Tactics, by Pinky McKay. More of the same old parenting advice, nothing fresh or helpful for me.

Austerity, by Mark Blyth. I thought this book was supposed to be a primer on austerity economics but it seemed to require an economics degree to understand. Or at least a better understanding of economics than I have. Whenever I would read parts out to Matt and ask him to explain them, he understood, but I didn’t want to spend all of bedtime reading time interrupting his own reading time. I have returned this to the library and might get it another time when the time is right.

Reading at the moment:

Becoming, by Michelle Obama. I am enjoying this so far. [Edit: I will blog about it in the next Reading Life Quarterly Review]

A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman. This is a 3/5 so far. Not great but worth finishing after I get through my library books that are due soon and not able to be renewed. [Edit: see above edit]

Other books by my bed at the moment:

Motherhood, by Sheila Leti. I already checked this out from the library and had to return it. This is my second attempt!

Craft for a Dry Lake, by Kim Mahood. I found this in an unusual way. I was going through old papers from uni and found I had written this book title down on a piece of paper. I immediately knew it was important, so I wrote it down on my whiteboard even though I threw out the paper. Then it was available at my library! So I ordered it in. I haven’t started it yet and I will have to read the more high-demand library books first so I don’t have to return them.

Updated to add: I have since abandoned both these books.

Where I sourced my books this quarter:

Library: 14

Borrowed: 3

Bought: 2

 

Reflections: How I am going with my reading goals

I read the exact same number of books as last quarter: 9. This quarter I tipped the balance in favour of more fiction books, which is what I have been aiming at.

I am trying to read one book at a time more, instead of reading several and taking ages to finish any of them. I have a library copy of Becoming and it is due in 11 days. The book is massive so I am dedicating a lot of time to reading it before the due date. It is requested so I can’t renew it. If I have to return it I’ll have to go to the back of the line(1).

I am also trying not to overwhelm myself by getting too many books from the library and then having to read them before they are due. I am doing well so far, only three items checked out at the moment.

After I finish my library books I am going to look to “shop my bookcase”. This is a term I heard on Anne Bogel’s podcast What Should I Read Next. It’s an attitude that views the “to be read” books on your bookcase with possibility, rather than as a burden. I am also going to try to prioritise reading books I have borrowed from people but not read/finished yet.

 

 

(1) This is a false pressure because a friend of mine when she heard I was on hold for Becoming said she has three copies and is happy to loan me one. But I am using the pressure to get it done.

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