The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Volume II

The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Volume II

I can’t believe that it’s been nearly two years since I read The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Volume I. If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you’ll know that Elizabeth Barrett Browning is my literary hero and Aurora Leigh, in particular, holds a very important place in my heart. I enjoyed getting back into the second volume of these letters which feel like reading the thoughts of a friend; Barrett Browning’s passion, creativity, and imagination come through as much here as in the first volume. Read more

Advertisements

You Bring the Distant Near

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

I have a tendency to race through Young Adult novels very quickly, and You Bring the Distant Near was no exception; despite the fact that it had sat on my to-read pile for several months before I picked it up, I am writing this review the day after I started reading it. I was glad that I decided to read this novel at the end of a busy term as something lighter and completely absorbing was definitely what was needed. I really enjoyed this family-focused narrative and the engaging characters that make up the three generations of the Das family. Read more

The Book of Forgotten Authors

The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler

I’ll admit that the first chapter of The Book of Forgotten Authors made me have a ‘being a writer is really hard’ crisis that meant I put the book down and didn’t read any further for a few months. However, when I looked at the books on my to-read pile by the window, I decided that I was still very curious about these ‘forgotten authors’ that Fowler has investigated and that it should be my next read. I’m glad I did get round to reading the rest of The Book of Forgotten Authors; for all that it highlights how quickly writers can fall into obscurity, it also reminded me that there are so many writers still to be rediscovered. Read more

The Girl in the Tower

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden 

It was roughly this time last year that I read the first instalment in Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy, The Bear and the Nightingale. I mentioned in my review that it was one of my favourite reads of the year and it made my top five fiction reads in my 2017 round-up. I had been looking forward to reading The Girl in the Tower since its release earlier this year, but hadn’t been able to get it until a few weeks ago. However, I was not expecting just how invested I would become in this instalment of the Petrovich family’s journey, racing through The Girl in the Tower because I couldn’t put it down. The Bear and the Nightingale was one of my favourite reads last year, but The Girl in the Tower has definitely pushed the Winternight Trilogy into one of my favourite book series in general.   Read more

Extracting the Stone of Madness

Extracting the Stone of Madness by Alejandra Pizarnik, translated by Yvette Siegert

I will admit that I had never heard of Alejandra Pizarnik before a few months ago: delving through some recommendation lists, I kept seeing her name coming up with strong recommendations. Although she was only writing for a short period of time, she has clearly had a large impact on Spanish language writers, and so I was excited to read this English translation of her poetry by Yvette Siegert. I usually read through poetry collections fairly quickly, and then continue to re-read them many times after; with Extracting the Stone of Madness, however, I felt that I would benefit most from taking my time reading through these poems and I enjoyed that change of pace.  Read more

The Poetry Shelf: Crossing from Guangdong

The Poetry Shelf: ‘Crossing from Guangdong’ by Sarah Howe

I first read Sarah Howe’s collection of poetry, Loop of Jade, last year and I came back to it many times in the subsequent months. It has quickly become one of my favourite collections of poetry and I’m sure I will keep reading and re-reading it for many years to come. I fell in love with the second poem of the collection, ‘Crossing from Guangdong’, the first time that I read it but over the past year it has come to mean much more to me than I ever expected. Through all the ups and downs of life, the first line of this poem has been in my mind, being quietly mulled over until it came to mean something more personal to me than simply the first line of a poem I like. As I thought about which poetical work to look at next in my series The Poetry Shelf, it didn’t take me long to decide on ‘Crossing from Guangdong’. Read more

First Fox

First Fox by Leanne Radojkovich 

It was my birthday recently, and one of the presents I was excited to receive from a good friend of mine was First Fox from independent publisher The Emma Press. My friend knows me well, and I could see from the blurb that this short story collection would be right up my street: a series of short stories depicting real life with the atmosphere of fairy tales. It did not take me long to read through this short collection and I very much enjoyed spending the weekend after my birthday doing so.   Read more

Summer Requiem

Summer Requiem by Vikram Seth

Although Vikram Seth was a familiar name to me, I had never read any of his writing. Really, the only book of his I was aware of was A Suitable Boy, which has been on my to-read list for a while but seems one of those books that it might take me a very long time to get round to reading. I had no idea that, before A Suitable Boy, Seth was most well-known for his poetry, so I was excited to find some of his collections as I browsed a bookshop the other day; the wonderful, end-of-summer design on the cover very quickly convinced me to treat myself to Summer Requiem (especially since we are having an early summer here in the UK). A summer evening spent babysitting seemed the perfect time to get stuck into these atmospheric poems. Read more

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I had seen a lot of buzz around Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and had mentally added it to my TBR list, so I was very excited when my housemate came back from town one day saying that she had bought it. I was proud of myself for showing restraint and not reading it while she was reading it (you can ask Ruth for more details on how annoying I can be with that) but I finally got a chance to sit down and read it over the recent bank holiday weekend. Despite dealing with some difficult issues, it was a good bank holiday book: easy to read and engaging. Read more

Visitation

Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky

Working with international students, one of my favourite questions to ask is ‘what literature from your country would you recommend I read?’ I’ve had many great conversations off the back of this question in which I have discovered more about the student’s life, understood a little more of their culture, and ended up with several books to track down. However, a few years ago, I asked a German student what German literature she would recommend and she replied that she never read any German literature because it wasn’t as good as English literature. I was taken aback by this response, both because I knew that it could not be true and because I was very sad that she felt that way. The whole way through reading Jenny Erpenbeck’s Visitation, I kept being reminded of that conversation and I wish that I was still in contact with that student so that I could recommend it to her. Not only is it an engaging read, it is a fascinating insight into a particular aspect of German history that I was not too familiar with: the complications of property in East Germany during the 20th Century. Read more