Wednesday 15 April 2020

Quick Lit April 2020

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy, because reading is the perfect escape. What an adventurous month March was - I made it to the UK by the skin of my teeth, only to have my return flight cancelled. I had to leap to it and grab another flight  - and I'm crediting Anne Bogel's new book (see below) with helping me not to overthink the situation! Here's the small book stash I managed to squeeze into my luggage - I had planned on loading up an extra suitcase with stuff, but I had to switch to a budget airline. I'm not sure if that Dracula sequel is going to be too scary, but I'll give it a go and report back. I am so glad I also bought a pile of phonics material since we are now doing kindergarten at home, and I can work on teaching my son to read English before he goes to school and learns to read Slovenian.

Francesca Wade - Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom, and London Between the Wars
I finished this at the end of the month, but it's up here as my top book - it might even be my book of the year. I rarely buy new releases, but as soon as I heard about this, I knew it was for me. In five linked biographies, Wade explores the time spent in the same Bloomsbury square during the interwar years by five notable British women: novelists Virginia Woolf and Dorothy L. Sayers, academics Jane Harrison (with Hope Mirrlees) and Eileen Powers, and modernist poet H.D. I knew, directly or tangentially, of all these women, so it was a total treat. These are the women who paved the way for us, who dared to live, work and love outside the bounds of society's dictates, not afraid to re-imagine their lives, even, as with Harrison, when in their 70s. But it wasn't just about the history for me: as I read of Woolf's experiences as war came to London, as the city grew quiet, fear crept in, and she struggled with issues of nationalism and curtailed freedoms, I felt an affinity with her and my own feelings and reactions to the coronavirus. It's a fantastic debut, and a book I'll be pressing into the hands of my daughters.

John Cohen - Harry's Trees
Harry loses his wife in a freak accident. When he receives compensation, the shock propels him to flee to the country, where he meets a widow and her child, who is convinced her father is still magically present. This modern-day fairy tale has received an abundance of praise - so I'm a little abashed to admit that, while I absolutely loved the plot, I cannot say the same for the style. Perhaps it was because there were so many points of view, or because it was a modern, breezy book, and I don't often read contemporary novels. But I'd still heartily recommend it.

Anne Bogel - Don't Overthink It
My preorder arrived early - yay! - and I had time to devour this quickly before I set off for the UK at the beginning of March. And how timely it was, because, given the coronavirus situation and my prebooked flight, there were lots of decisions I had to not overthink. In fact, when all went pear-shaped, Anne's encouragement helped me to (coincidentally - or not?) quickly rebook for what turned out to be the final flight back to Slovenia before the airport here closed. Written in Anne's open, approachable style, it's wide ranging in its exploration of how overthinking can scupper our lives, and full of practical advice. I intend to come back to it at a more leisurely pace some time.

H.Y. Hanna - Two Down, Bun to Go
Sleuthing Oxfordshire tea room owner Gemma is woken in the night with a frantic call from an old friend, now a don at an Oxford College. He has discovered a body - and he's the prime murder suspect. The third in this cosy series, and a fun read.

Cal Newport - Digital Minimalism
Maybe it was not the best time to read this book when we're all stuck at home almost 24/7 and the digital world is rising to the occasion. Although it has some interesting research and positive suggestions, which I will probably consider when all this is over, by the mid-way mark I was losing interest - I felt it was really an article stretched out into a book.

I hope books are providing support, fun, and escapism for you right now. Stay safe and healthy, and keep reading!