All the Single Ladies: Book thoughts

Ever since I read Spinster–and probably before–I have wanted to read a book celebrating singleness. I live in two very different worlds–half the time I am working among other career-driven single academics; half the time I am with church friends who got married at 20, immediately had 17 babies*, and are less good than they think at hiding their disdain for my life. This means that I think a lot about singleness in general, and female singleness in particular. A lot of my friends have recently had or will soon be having babies, so I have been thinking about it more than usual just lately. I am extremely happy to be single and am unlikely to be persuaded into a relationship**. However, I am highly irritated by the patronising pity heaped on me by people who have never had the opportunity to be single. Continue reading

The Power: Book thoughts

The Power by Naomi Alderman is one of the books that I’ve been looking forward to reading all year. The reviews have been largely fantastic, and the idea is incredibly compelling—what if men were no longer the physically stronger sex? How would that change things? In The Power, women gradually discover that they have developed the ability to send out electric shocks—powerful enough to severely wound or even kill others. This power starts off in teenage girls, who are able to awaken it in older women. The novel takes place over the course of about ten years and follows several point-of-view characters, as events unfold across the globe in response to the sudden shift in power dynamics. (Before I get started on my thoughts, I feel compelled to warn you that if you are sensitive to grim stuff in books–depictions of rape, extreme violence, drug use, genital mutilation etc–it may be worth approaching this book with caution, if at all).

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Shades of Milk and Honey: Book review

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal is an objectively dreadful book, which I absolutely loved. I devoured it in a single day. Admittedly, I had some really intense PhD reading material sitting on my desk the whole time, so perhaps I could chalk it up to procrastination. I am not sure that washes as an excuse, though, because I also prioritised this over binge-watching Madam Secretary and deep-cleaning my flat, both time-honoured procrastination techniques. Continue reading

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells

Hmmmppppphhhh. I have reached that stage of my PhD that all postgrads eventually hit: I hate it, I wish I’d taken that nice student health visitor post when I had the chance, do you know how much I’d be earning by now, 70 hours a week is too many hours to work, I’m probably going to fail anyway… If you’ve been through the process yourself, you know. You know. It’s looking likely that this is going to be the case until June at the earliest. Continue reading

On excellent, horrible books.

This is not a professional book review blog. I don’t work for a newspaper or a publisher. I’ve even stopped accepting books for review, because that affected my enjoyment of the whole process. I read, and blog, entirely for pleasure. That said, I still feel compelled to think critically about the books that I read, to consider the quality of the writing and content and not just my own enjoyment. Of course, most of the time, a well-written book will be one I enjoy reading. Even if the content matter is dark, there will be things for me to love in it—beautiful turns of phrase, or superb character development, or unexpected plot twists. (The reverse is not necessarily true—I take huge pleasure in rereading Nancy Drew books, which I am sure only have six plots between all 200+ of them). Continue reading