I went to the library this morning with my little boy. Slowly circling around the shelves, sifting through bestsellers and new authors and eventually picking out a few books to take home – it is a novelty that never wears off for me. There is just so much out there to learn about and discover and I feel so much happier when I’ve got an absorbing book on the go. Delightfully, at the age of 9 weeks and 5 days, Jacob Farrow is now the proud owner of his first library card! He has already taken out a book about puppies and kittens and another book about colours. And, really, from there it’s just a small step to Dickens.
It’s not as easy to find time for reading these days but I am resolved not to give it up. It is one of those hobbies that makes me ‘me’ and I think it can be quite easy to lose those things in the midst of parenthood. I am continuing to go to Book Club and I’m also trying to read books that aren’t perhaps my usual cup of tea, to cover a wider range of genres and encounter new ideas. These are the books I’ve read in May:
This book errs towards science fiction, which is an example of something I wouldn’t usually bother to pick up, but I actually found myself really enjoying this story. It is the tale of Flora 717, who is sanitation bee, assigned to clean her hive and keep her head down. But Flora has some talents that are not typical of a sanitation bee and she is soon embroiled in a fight to save her hive and her beloved holy mother, the Queen, whilst dodging her enemies the ‘fertility police’ and the high priestesses who guard the Hive Mind. I thought this was a really clever and imaginative book, which moves at a fast pace and leaves you unable to ever look at a simple bee in the same way again. 4/5
Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid
This is one of those modern adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels that are proving quite popular at the moment. Val McDermid set most of her 21st version of Northanger Abbey at the Edinburgh Festival rather than in Bath – a setting which I thought worked really well. But that was about all I liked about this book. It seemed to me that McDermid was trying too hard to create young, hip and cool characters, all of whom were pretty irritating, and I found their language cringe-worthy (they say ‘like’ and ‘totes’ a lot). I think the problem with these books is that they lose everything that I find appealing about Jane Austen. I enjoy being transported to a bygone era where people speak properly and don’t have cars and mobile phones and all the other paraphernalia of modern life. I think these books are designed to appeal to teens but I think it would be much better to read the original, no matter what age you are. 2/5
I loved this book; it’s so well written and funny throughout. Miss Jean Brodie is a school teacher in the 1930s who has very unconventional and rather shocking educational ideas for the pupils that she teaches. She soon selects a group of favourite girls, who become known as the ‘Brodie set’, and decides to transform them into the crème de la crème at Marcia Blaine School. The book is short, which I appreciated with a baby, and has a clever narrative which tells the story of Miss Brodie’s ‘Prime’ in retrospect 20 years later. The characters are unique and interesting and I loved the old fashioned world they inhabit. An excellent read! 5/5
Please tell me of any good books you’ve read, especially if they are sub 200 pages!!