Sorry, how is it 2nd July? Did we not just celebrate New Year? Have we skipped forward in time?
I didn’t read as much as usual this month but the most amazing thing that’s come out of June is a newfound interest in writing. My friend has been writing her novel for a while now and she told me she just started by playing with characters and a story grew out of it. She inspired me to change up the way I approach writing, and by just making sure I write a little each day, even if it’s just a sentence, I’m beginning to create something I really like.
The first book I read in June was The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I’ve been really getting into the TV series which is currently being shown on Channel 4, so I decided to give the book another go. This time, I really enjoyed it, though I did find it petered out towards the end. The world-building was probably my favourite thing about this novel. I love a good dystopian.
The ending was a bit more optimistic than I expected, and I have to admit I always feel this about dystopians – they’re so much more interesting when the characters are living under the regime, rather than when they’re fighting against it. This is why I always enjoy the first book in a dystopian series the most (as well as the fact that the first book in a series is usually the best anyway).
I also read The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins. This has been sitting on my shelf for a while, an enormous graphic novel, and finally one day I sat down and read it. It’s a unique story about a town, ‘Here’ where order and neatness are highly valued, to suppress the fear of the chaos of the surrounding area, ‘There’ (which appears to be the ocean). Our main character involuntarily grows an enormous beard, which keeps growing and growing and can’t be cut.
The pictures are very simple and beautiful, and the writing is quite lyrical and poetic. A lot of it rhymes, but not all of it. It’s a great book but I probably wouldn’t bother to read it again for a long time. It’s staying on my shelves for now, though, for pure artistry.
I re-read One Day by David Nicholls, one of my favourite books which I always get a hankering to re-read after a while. If you haven’t read One Day, please do. If you’re not into romances, that doesn’t matter – I’m really not into romances at all. It’s probably one of my least-favourite genres and I would never go into a bookshop looking for a romance. One Day is definitely a romance but really it’s not about the love story itself, it’s about the people falling in love.
It follows Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew, two students who sleep together the night of graduation, and then each chapter shows where they are a year later. Sometimes they are together, sometimes they have drifted apart and haven’t seen each other in years, but they always think of one another.
The reason I love this book so much is the writing: Nicholls is extremely observational and witty, and his characters are moulded so perfectly that I feel like I really know them. He comments on society and the little things we do, and I love the little comments on human behaviour:
She drinks pints of coffee and writes little observations and ideas for stories with her best fountain pen on the linen-white pages of expensive notebooks. Sometimes, when it’s going badly, she wonders if what she believes to be a love of the written word is really just a fetish for stationery.
I related so much to Emma Morley when I first read this book at uni. I still relate to her now, except that she is much more political and healthy than me.
I’m currently reading One Of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus. I came across this completely by accident in the Kindle store, downloaded a sample and was hooked. It’s about 5 students in detention, with a very obvious Breakfast Club theme, but the twist is that one of them ends up dead. At first it appears to be an accident but quickly the police begin a murder investigation, in which the remaining 4 students are all suspects.
It’s a fun mix between murder mystery and twee YA romance, although I feel the love story is getting in the way of the story. I’m quite far into it now and my interest has dwindled, but I think that’s just because my writing has taken over reading somewhat, which is a good thing really!