Friday, 4 May 2018

what i read: april 2018

I'm still behind on my Goodreads challenge for 2018! I know there's still a whole year to catch up, but it's starting to stress me out.

This month I didn't read much, as my eyes flared up with some awful allergy which meant I could barely keep them open for ~10 days. A whole week of no reading! It was strangely restful, and - with anything - once you break a habit of reading during your commute, at lunch break, and before bed, it's difficult to get started again.

Add to that a busy, exciting, scary week at work and well... that's partly why I'm behind. Hopefully May will be better! Here's what I managed to read this month:

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Bleak House - Charles Dickens

Phew. Well. My first foray into Dickens, and little did I know that I was starting with a novel that some people claim is his most complex and confusing. The number of characters and twisting subplots - and the links between them - almost caused me to put the book down for six months and let it gather dust. Or just read it with Sparknotes open.

At around 40% of the way through, I watched this video and it really helped bring some enthusiasm back into my reading. That, and a goal I set myself of reading 2-3 chapters a day in smaller chunks (I had originally aimed to read 100 pages per day but my brain started to rebel)

Although the complexity of the novel was off-putting, I did really enjoy making the connections and the 'ah ha' moments. I also really really loved the social commentary and the depiction of Victorian London. Like, the social commentary was maybe my favourite part? Basically, watch the video above because Katie's thoughts are essentially my thoughts.

Would I reread it? Yes.... in a few years. (I will be reading more Dickens this year though!) I'm looking forward to watching the BBC series at some point too.

The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs - Christina Hopkinson

Wow why did I waste my time on this? I needed an easy read after Dickens and this was what my To Be Read shelf contained. There was some interesting stuff in here which touched on the emotional labour debate, but ultimately I gave it one star and can't even think of anything else to say about it. (This is a rare instance when reading the Goodreads reviews before starting a book would have been a good idea.) (Also, I have an irrational rule which says I have to finish every book I start. Hence why I finished this one.)

Fools and Mortals - Bernard Cornwell

This had such promise! I really enjoy reading stories set in this time period, and a friend had really praised this novel, so I was excited to finally get to it on my To Be Read shelf.

Whilst the setting and dialogue was wonderful - and really very funny at times (I, embarrassingly, burst out laughing on the bus on more than one occasion) - I found the plot meandering and uninspiring. I didn't have anything invested in the overall outcome, so when the novel ended I was a bit... disappointed. There was some interesting exploration of the Shakespeare brothers' childhoods and backgrounds, which kept my attention (I know very little about them, and have only really study Shakespeare fleetingly at school).

Overall I gave this two stars: one for setting description and one for dialogue.

The American Boy - Andrew Taylor

I was prepared for this to be a bit of a 'meh' book - a cheap paperback which didn't have much promise. And while it's never going to be my favourite, there was nothing awfully wrong with it. The plot flitted around and seemed to take an age, but the chapters were short (often too short - it was written in scenes rather than chapters, which is one of my main complaints). The main character, Thomas Shield, also has to decide between two beautiful women who he's in love with (and who conveniently favour him too) - I rolled my eyes waaaayy back into my head at that.

Otherwise the mystery kept my attention well enough, and there was nothing too taxing about it. A safe three stars, but that's probably being a bit generous.

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Until next time (whenever that is - I'm no longer promising anything, ha!) I hope you have wonderful days/weeks/months. Please remember to speak and think kind words to yourself and to others.

What did you read last month?


  1. Of course now that I'm trying to think of specific titles, I can't remember much of what I read. OH! I read Force of Nature by Jane Harper. That was pretty good - I'd give it 4/5 stars. I also re-read The Time Traveller's Wife for the first time since it was published back in 2006, and it was even better than I remembered.

    1. Ha! I often have months like that - I look at my read list on Goodreads and think "did I really read that this month?!?", either because it seemed like an age ago or because the book wasn't memorable.

      Ooh, I haven't read a thriller in so long, so Force of Nature sounds like something I should add to my 'to read' list...