Books I Want to Read in May

Sunday, 5 May 2019


I have crunched the numbers and it turns out that, judging by my rate from over the last two years or so, I am averaging around 12 books a month. I know, I know - it's a mentally exhausting life, one which admittedly involves a lot of sitting on my arse, but someone has to do it.
Get a proper life, I hear you call, one that involves actually leaving your house. Well yeah, you might have a point there...
But, it turns out that by making my idiosyncrasies all the more evident, instead of working to change them, I thought that I should magnify them and therefore, put them to some use. But, seeing as though I am historically resistant to any sense of schedule, official or otherwise (I mean, just look at my blog schedule. What a mess), starting off this series by scheduling all 12 of those books would certainly devolve into certain chaos.
So, instead, this list contains just 6 and over the next few months, we shall see how this semi-structured schedule works for me.


Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences, plus six years, at Stanville Women's Correctional Facility. Outside is the world from which she has been permanently severed: the San Francisco of her youth, changed almost beyond recognition. The Mars Room strip club where she once gave lap dances for a living. And her seven-year-old son, Jackson, now in the care of Romy's estranged mother. Inside is a new reality to adapt to: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive. The relentlessly deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner details with humour and precision. Daily acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike. Allegiances formed over liquor brewed in socks, and stories shared through sewage pipes. Romy sees the future stretch out ahead of her in a long, unwavering line - until news from outside brings a ferocious urgency to her existence, challenging her to escape her own destiny and culminating in a climax of almost unbearable intensity. Through Romy - and through a cast of astonishing characters populating Mars Room - Rachel Kushner presents not just a bold and unsentimental panorama of life on the margins of contemporary America, but an excoriating attack on the prison-industrial complex.


Two couples find themselves at a moment of reckoning. Melissa has a new baby and doesn't want to let it change her. Damian has lost his father and intends not to let it get to him. Michael is still in love with Melissa but can't quite get close enough to her to stay faithful. Stephanie just wants to live a normal, happy life on the commuter belt with Damian and their three children but his bereavement is getting in the way. Set in London to an exhilarating soundtrack, Ordinary People is an intimate study of identity and parenthood, sex and grief, friendship and ageing, and the fragile architecture of love. 


In 2016, Mariam Khan read that David Cameron had linked the radicalization of Muslim men to the `traditional submissiveness' of Muslim women. Mariam felt pretty sure she didn't know a single Muslim woman who would describe herself that way. Why was she hearing about Muslim women from people who were neither Muslim, nor female? Years later the state of the national discourse has deteriorated even further, and Muslim women's voices are still pushed to the fringes - the figures leading the discussion are white and male. Taking one of the most politicized and misused words associated with Muslim women and Islamophobia, It's Not About the Burqa is poised to change all that. Here are voices you won't see represented in the national news headlines: seventeen Muslim women speaking frankly about the hijab and wavering faith, about love and divorce, about feminism, queer identity, sex, and the twin threats of a disapproving community and a racist country. These essays are funny, warm, sometimes sad, and often angry, and each of them is a passionate declaration calling time on the oppression, the lazy stereotyping, the misogyny and the Islamophobia. What does it mean, exactly, to be a Muslim woman in the West today? According to the media, it's all about the burqa. Here's what it's really about.


A quiet community is shocked by the murder of an eleven-year-old girl. As police swarm the village, fear compels parents to keep their children indoors. Unbeknown to her Mum and Dad, though, one girl roams free. That girl is Thera Wilde. Thera was the murdered girl's best friend. Together they were unstoppable and, even alone, Thera is not afraid: it's 1999. Girls can do anything. And Thera reckons she can find the killer before the police do.


In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous. Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.


When a recklessly idealistic girl in a dystopian future society dares to test the perimeters of her tightly controlled world, she is punished by being sent back in time to a region of North America - `Wainscotia, Wisconsin' - that existed eighty years before. Cast adrift in time in this idyllic Midwestern town, she is set upon a course of `rehabilitation' - but she falls in love with a fellow exile and starts to question the constraints of her new existence, with results that are both devastating and liberating. Arresting and visionary, Hazards of Time Travel is an exquisitely wrought love story, a novel of harrowing discovery - and an oblique but powerful response to our current political climate.



Head on over to http://bit.ly/2y7JSWV for these books, as well as all of the others featured in my reviews, complete with the added bonuses of free worldwide shipping and bringing a little joy to my life.

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