Featured Reader: A devilishly handsome man hiding behind a book. AKA Moz but I prefer the mystery man title.
Currently Reading: Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie.
Favourite Part/Line: While trying to recruit a spy, a character pitches the mission in the least appealing way possible, and yet it works: “I’m suggesting another method. Rather a sporting method really. There’s some excitement in it too. I’ll be fair with you. There’s just a hundred to one chance you mightn’t die. But I don’t believe under the circumstances, that you’d really object by that time.” It’s that bleak humour that makes me love Christie, a blasé flaunting of the ridiculous that somehow seems plausible as we read it.
As with last time, if you would like to take part in this ‘What’s London Reading’ feature here on TheCrackedSpineBlog and are free for a quick photo and chat please use the contact page of the blog, or you can message our Instagram or Facebook pages.
Featured Reader: Tash, a fellow blogger, from The Bottom Step who very kindly agreed to be this week’s feature as she is aiming to complete 52 books in the 52 short weeks of 2017! We met in the in the beautiful Bloomsbury Coffee House where we grabbed a cup of surprisingly affordable and delicious coffee (well an Earl Grey Tea Latte for me). Currently Reading: Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty. Favourite Thing About the Book So Far: I really like reading it because it’s set in London so I can easily walk around the streets and follow where the main character is at the part I’m reading. Or I can just look up and see I’m on a street and be like ‘Oh this is where that thing happened!’ And I love the way the story builds, giving lots of tantalising clues to the main plot and as the story evolves you have to connect the dots.
Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that one of the phrases I say most often is “I’m a busy person. I don’t have time for that.” So for 2017, my challenge isn’t to read a mountain of books I barely notice and maybe yours shouldn’t be either.
January is finally here, and it’s a new year new you! This year you’re going to get back to the gym, eat healthy, and finally complete a Goodreads Reading Challenge of 50 books. It’s going to be you best year yet… But it’s not really is it? Chances are we’ll stick to the gym for a few weeks, eat a cereal bar and pretend it wasn’t a Coco Pops cereal bar, and then spend the rest of the year staring at the Goodreads Challenge as it let’s you know how you’re not meeting your target.
Now, I’ve done the Goodreads Challenge in the past, don’t get me wrong. I love the feeling of clocking up those public announcements of who’s on track and working hard to meet their goal. That’s the problem though, I’m working hard to meet the goal. I’m not reading for pleasure but to beat the others. It became a drudgery of books to read and how to offset those sluggish months where even finishing one and cracking a new spine seemed a huge task.
Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that one of the phrases I say most often is “I’m a busy person. I don’t have time for that.” So for 2017, my challenge isn’t to read a mountain of books I barely notice while I devour them. Instead I’m opting for “By the end of 2017 I will have read and enjoyed at least one part of the books I find time for” maybe such a goal will be more helpful to anyone struggling to get back into reading than a mammoth target!
New year, same blogger,
P.S to the lucky searcher who found this blog with the “small t!ts” Google Search, we apologise for the confusion.
Title: The Sellout Author: Paul Beatty Pages: 306 Rating: 4/5
In the Man Booker Winner of this year, Beatty tackled one of the largest issues in the US of A over the last five (hundred) years and undoubtedly many, many years to come, race relations.
Page after page of this biting satire is jam packed with that word white people just can’t say yet still find oddly titillating (probably because we know that word is no longer for us), and shrewd jarring comments on today’s society both black and white. That is not to say though, that it’s inaccessible or heavy. It’s hilarious, in the sick way that the rest of 2016 has been.
Beginning in a courtroom, like all stories of landmark race relations novels, the story focuses on Mr. Me (an African-American urban farmer who grows not just the juiciest watermelons but some of the sweetest ghetto philosophy) as he battles the law with sidebars from his history and evidence floating through the protagonist’s mind. One of my favourite axioms came in this early supreme court scene when Me served us a slice of his sweet sweet philosophy on Abe Lincoln: ” Would he read the paper and see that the Union he saved was now a dysfunctional plutocracy, that the people he freed were now slaves to rhythm, rap, and predatory lending, and that today his skill set would be better suited to the basketball court than the White House?”. Running with this notion, Beatty uses Me to explore the racism of modern day USA which comes down to the African Americans from all sides, including their own.
A few short weeks ago, well ok, in September, I saw a post recurring on a couple of blogs I follow: Diversity Spotlight Thursday, in which the blogger highlights books that the readers may not have noticed because they come from the more maginalised authors. Hosted by Bookshelves and Paperbacks, this caught my attention as this year I’ve been trying to reach out of my comfort zone as, like most of Western pop culture, my reading is rather whitewashed. Then, when I saw this post, I decided I had to participate, but alas Life got in the way as usual and I’m just now setting about writing it!
A Diverse Book I’ve Read and Enjoyed
Way back in September, Portobello Books were kind enough to send me an advance reader copy of The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasm (published by Protobello/Granta, available from Waterstones), a book about the latter days of the Sri Lankan civil war. This book was a gut-wrenching glimpse into a life so removed from my own that it took me a while to decide just how I felt about it. Just tell us how you felt Moz, well… I felt shocked and sad and angry, but above all I felt privileged.While not just a commentary on the atrocities of civil war, the book is also a sharp narration of the harsh reality of all those fleeing from a war not of their making. Although I say it A LOT, this was one of the books that left me reeling and lost in thought for quite a while. Continue reading “Diversity Spotlight Thursday”→
“She wanted to be her, or be with her, or destroy her” – Paulina & Fran
I received a lovely copy of Rachel B. Glaser’s “Paulina & Fran” from Granta Books in exchange for an unbiased review. I was unfamiliar with the book but the cover really drew me in (I’m a sucker for a funky cover) and I was very excited to give it a read. The results were…a bit of a mixed bag.
The book centres around the larger than life character of Paulina and her trials and tribulations as she bluffs her way through art school, determined to create as much chaos and adventure as possible to facilitate her dreams of living her glamorous life to its fullest. She feels she is too good for the hipster circles in which she finds herself and longs to realise a greater calling – as soon as she discovers what that is. Along the way she meets Fran, a quiet but intoxicating presence in Paulina’s life and they quickly form a close bond. The book follows the girls as their friendship deepens and struggles through the trials and tribulations graduation and harsh life realities throw their way.
I definitely enjoyed this book overall. Glaser’s breezy yet sardonic prose suits the story and the world these characters inhibit. She takes an environment that can seem so vapid and ridiculous and makes you care for characters that, if you met them in reality (and sadly reader, I absolutely have) you would cross the room, road and potentially state lines to avoid. However the book is far more than a particularly drawn out and tedious episode of “Skins”. I found her depiction of the girls’ lives post-university incredibly affecting. Fran’s floundering in comparison to her friends’ perceived success really rang true and I found myself all-to-easily relating to the panic and confusion of exiting the college bubble. Glaser handles this deftly and I definitely found it novel come into its own in its second half.
All this said it is difficult to get past the irritating character of Paulina. I have, in the past, been criticised by friends for needing my protagonists to be likable but I take umbrage at this accusation. I certainly don’t need to “like” my protagonists; however I do ask that they don’t enrage me and make me roll my eyes so much as to cause self-induced headaches. Perhaps it comes from mingling in college circles that featured individuals like Paulina – individuals that elicited sighs and more eye-rolling from this ever-so-cynical Die. There were moments where Glaser allowed glimpses of Paulina’s uncertainty and vulnerability to shine through and these were highlights for me, however they were not plentiful enough to allow me to reassess her overall. Unfortunately I felt the novel needed you to buy into and root for Paulina to be an out-and-out success and alas, I just could not bring myself to care that much.
Overall “Paulina & Fran” is short but enjoyable with enough glimpses of brilliance and curly hair commentary to look forward to future works by this author
TL;DR: Some lovely human moments with annoying human characters. Lots of hair and dancing – 3.5/5
Cover Image via favim.com. Novel Image is Die’s own