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Wow. Was it ever a fictional month!


Books bought: Silence by Shusako Endo – How To See The World by Nicholas Mirzoeff.

Books Read: The Tsar Of Love And Techno by Anthony Marra – Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms by G.R.R. Martin – To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Saga Vols. 1-5 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples – Lamentation by C.J. Sansom – The Girl With Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee – Thatcher’s Trial by Kwasi Kwarteng.

From a somewhat disappointing classic to a brilliant collection of short stories to a graphic novel series I’ve coveted for a while, I read no outstanding non-fiction this month. In fact, I barely read any non-fiction at all. Which was pretty relaxing for a change. Just relied on authors to tell a great story and didn’t worry about learning too much.

I spent a lot of time this year humble-bragging about never having read To Kill A Mockingbird. But when I got around to it this month, it was entirely familiar. So I must have read it in school but forgotten about it. I’m not surprised. The voice-crying-in-the-wilderness trope literally goes back to the Biblical tradition. But as much as Atticus Finch is such a figure for Alabama, his story isn’t particularly complex. He’s just a respected lawyer in a small town doing his duty (of course, with the publication of Go Set A Watchman, this is now really up for debate). Indeed, I would argue that To Kill A Mockingbird’s real strength is in Harper Lee’s exploration of small town social dynamics. But that discussion is better left to high school essays. I do wonder, though, what other high school texts I should go back and read?

Of course, G.R.R. Martin’s opus is a modern classic. And Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms is in his best tradition. All the epicness of A Game Of Thrones in one little, small package. Though, even Martin’s short stories run to nearly one hundred pages each! So I’m not sure anything he writes can be classed as small.

Anthony Marra. I think I’ve found a favourite contemporary author. And I basically think the contemporary world sucks. Marra’s all those things a great writer should be: eloquent, succinct, commanding, enthralling, and imaginative. But beyond his literary skills, he retains the common storyteller’s touch that makes his writing entirely accessible. And he’s quickly developed his own identifiable style. But most of all, he seems able to inhabit the soul of the Russian – or Slavic – people. Of course, that’s coming from someone who’s not Russian, so it’s a bit presumptuous of me to say he understands them, but it all just feels right. At the minimum, he’s immersed himself Solzhenitsyn. He’d better write again soon.

Finally, Jojo Moyes. <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1354621681″>I won’t explain again.</a> But I read it on an anti-snob challenge. Just to prove I can slum it. And then it wove its way into my heart.

So now, it’s back to histories, medieval books, and university presses after a long fiction foray.