Like most people, I first heard about Marina Keegan following her death in 2012. She was killed in a car crash a few days after graduating from Yale. She was 22.
The essay, entitled The Opposite of Loneliness, she wrote to mark graduation quickly went viral. Dealing with uncertainty, Keegan’s words urged people to be fearless, embrace change and stop being constrained by expectations; both their own and the expectations of others. It’s easy to see why it struck a chord with so many.
What are humans? What is the human condition? These questions are at the heart of Matt Haig’s wonderful novel The Humans and how better to explore the answers than through the eyes of an alien.
The alien is sent to earth to inhabit the body of Professor Andrew Martin of Cambridge University. He has a mission to complete. A mission that may not be as easy it sounds because the business of having to be a human keeps getting in the way.
Have you ever come across a book that is a few years old, but suddenly you hear lots of talk about it? That’s what happened to me with Kate Zambreno’s Green Girl. Some friends recommended I read it and then I came across it in Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist.
Ruth is a young American woman living in London. She sells perfume in Horrids (her name for it). Her days are spent spritzing people with Desire. Her nights are spent trying to find her way in the world; navigating her way through anxiety, friendships, relationships, nights out that involve drinking too much and the male gaze. More importantly, Ruth is desperately trying to make sense of the space between where she is now and what she deems to be proper adulthood.
Set in a future where girls are taught how to serve and please men, Only Ever Yours is a sharply written portrayal of teenage girls and the role of women in society.
freida and isabel (their names aren’t capitalised in the book) are best friends. They are also eves. They have been created for men and face a life spent living as a companion, a concubine or a chastity.
I’ve linked to some of Roxane Gay’s essays before. Since discovering her work in 2013, she has become one of my favourite essayists. Bad Feminist has been on my to-read list since it was released and the Kindle sale over Christmas provided the perfect opportunity to pick it up.
In parts memoir, reviews, critiques of pop culture, and comments on the state of contemporary feminism Bad Feminist switches between them all in a confident manner that highlights how everything is intertwined.
“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”
From the opening sentence, the scene is set. Oliver Ryan has hit his wife, Alice, before. On this occasion Alice has been left in coma.
What sort of a man would psychically abuse his wife? This question is at the heart of Unravelling Oliver. As we delve deeper into the life of Oliver Ryan we realise this isn’t an easy question to answer. But then it isn’t in real life either. How many times have we heard variations on “man of good character” when it comes to violence against women?
I picked up ‘The Boy That Never Was’ from the library on a whim and read it in one sitting. It’s definitely a page turner.
How would you react if you left your child alone and they disappeared? That’s the central theme of ‘The Boy That Never Was’. Harry has never forgiven himself, yet Robyn has never once blamed her husband. They’ve returned to Dublin from Tangier to make a fresh start, or try to at least, but their world is turned upside down for a second time when Harry sees an eight-year-old boy in a crowd. He is convinced the boy is their son Dillon, but he disappears before Harry can do anything about it.
I ordered a copy of Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam almost as soon as I finished reading this review by Lorraine of John, It’s Only Makeup! Any book that compels a person to read it multiple times is guaranteed a place on my to-read list and in this case I wasn’t disappointed.
A book about perfume written by a scientist and a perfume critic is going to be boring, right? Wrong. Turin and Sanchez have a way with words that not only make the world of fragrance accessible, but also entertaining.
Perfumes The A-Z Guide introduces us to perfume criticism, takes us through the different ways we perceive feminine and masculine fragrances, teaches us how to go about choosing a new scent, and gives us a brief history of perfume. This is all before we come to the frequently asked questions section which is the most comprehensive I’ve seen anywhere. Each chapter is written with not only knowledge, but more humour than you thought possible when discussing perfume. All that’s left are the perfume reviews.
If I’ve ever bought you a book as a present, loaned you a book or just recommended a book to you then there’s a good chance that it was ‘The Hours’ by Michael Cunningham. It is my favourite novel and I like to share it.
‘The Hours’ won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1999 and was adapted into a film starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore in 2002 so I suspect everyone is familiar with the story by now, even if they haven’t read the book.
Cunningham tells the story of three women who have all been affected, in some way, by Virginia Woolf’s ‘Mrs. Dalloway’.