Remember that time where I said I wouldn’t over-burden myself by trying to read too many books this month. Yea, I definitely didn’t do that thing I said I wouldn’t do…
Ok fine. I did. I read ten books in April (what is wrong with me??). Seven of the ten were part of April’s non-fiction reading theme, and below is a mini wrap-up of each of them. Let’s see if I can even still remember …
Born a Crime
Having studied South African politics a little at uni, I was worried this memoir would be super upsetting. And well, it was at times. But the way Trevor Noah sees the world and takes on the challenges he’s dealt is so inspiring that you can’t help but come away from Born a Crime with a feeling of hope and awe. Every anecdote not only shows you the harsh realities of growing up in apartheid South Africa, but also teaches you how to be a better person. How does he do iiiiit??
The Arab of the Future
Riad Sattouf is a cartoonist who grew up between Syria and France. In this graphic novel he covers the very early years of his childhood and his bewilderment as he switched between the two very different cultures. Very much seen through a child’s eyes, The Arab of the Future harnesses the visceral, innocent way children see the world, which was a refreshing take, though often left me with more questions than answers. Although, that may just be a marketing ploy to spur me into reading the next volume!
In Order to Live
This one reads like dystopian fiction. It goes from life in the districts of The Hunger Games, to a Chinese Gangster film, to a Colditz-esque escape across the Gobi Desert. The thing that got to me with this one more than the others, is how close to home it felt. I could line up my own timeline with Yeonmi Park’s and feel the full weight of how much of this is going on in the world right now. I know exactly what I was doing in the months while she was being trafficked, or how I felt starting uni while she was desperately searching for her missing sister. Terrifying.
The New Girl
Even though a lot of what Ryannon Styles was/is dealing with are completely removed from my own life, so much of The New Girl is relate-able in the ways we fight to discover ourselves and the hurdles we face to present that to the world. We all want to be accepted for who we are, but it’s not always easy or straight forward. While I found the writing a little simplistic and bare, I was really immersed in the way Ryannon Styles explains the evolution of her identity in relation to the music and art scenes of London. This book is also a timely piece of encouragement for anyone strugling with issues of sexuality and gender.
Speaking of sexuality, the next book I read was Doing It. Although not technically a memoir, I’m throwing this one in anyway. It’s my blog, I make the rules. The thing I liked most about this book is that often these “Youtuber books” are a thinly veiled ego trip for the author, but Hannah brings in other writers and vloggers to contribute where her experience falls short. The result is an informative reference for all things gender and sexuality, with hilarious/ heartbreaking/ real anecdotes from her and others. Definitely worth having around to dip in and out of. Especially if you’re new to the relationship game!
Diary of a Vampire in Pyjamas
In Diary of a Vampire in Pyjamas, French author and musician Mathias Malzieu draws us into his personal show-down with death. Cheery I know. Diagnosed with a life-threatening illness on the cusp of his major film release, Malzieu is transformed into a vampire, living off the blood of others in order to survive. Even in translation, this short memoir is poetically brilliant and warm and quirky and devastating. And the scene where doctors hold him down as they wrench bone marrow from his sternum is not something I’ll forget in a hurry. Yeesh.
I Am, I Am, I Am
Lastly I read the surprise memoir by novelist Maggie O’Farrell. Split into seventeen sections, each chapter deals with a brush she’s had with death. And by brush I mean head-on collision. These stories are chilling from the word go and will leave you wondering how so many tremendously horrific things can happen to one person. Although these are stories flirting with death, these are also stories of life as Maggie’s quick wit and vivacity leech out of every page. And if you’re not crying by the end, well, are you even human??
I’ve been going back and forth on what my theme for May is going to be, but with ACOWAR coming out tomorrow I think it’s pretty much a given that I’ll be reading fantasy. Man, it’s been a while since I got really stuck into YA! As ever, suggestions are always welcome x