I’ve realised that I’m never going to catch up with the long list of books that I want to blog about but have to make ‘inspired art’ for first, so I’m going to stop doing that (although there’s nothing wrong with making book inspired art, it’s just proved uninspiring trying to do it for literally every book I read). So instead, here is the first in a monthly series of books I’ve read this month.
This month has been quite a slow book month for me, with only three books completed, I’d read a whopping 12 books in January and 6 books in February. I think the slowness (for me) was because I mostly have not enjoyed the books I’ve read this month, if I’m not enjoying it (that much), I find myself making fewer opportunities to read. Sometimes the opposite can happen though, when I’m enjoying a book so much, I’ll deliberately try and eek it out because I don’t want it to end. Blackwater by Michael McDowell, which I’m currently reading, on and off, is one such book, so although I’ve been reading it for a while, it hasn’t made the completed list this month, it probably will make it on the list next month and I will be in book mourning.
How to be human: the manual by Ruby Wax
Ruby Wax looks at how humans struggle to cope in a world that we have not yet evolved to live in. It was quite interesting, although I’m not sure, personally, if the style is quite for me in places but that’s just me, I think that how Ruby writes about mental health is brilliant for making it more open and accessible. Anyway, I quite liked the chats at the end of each chapter between Ruby, the monk and the neuroscientist (the monk, in particular, strikes me as an interesting guy) and the chapter of mindfulness exercises written by Ruby and the monk.
Making the monster: the science behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by Kathryn Harkup
Making the Monster is part biography, part literary analysis and part history of science, all linked to the book, Frankenstein. I think that it may be quite a unique audience that enjoys reading all three parts. Personally I enjoyed bits of all three but there were points where the book dragged and at times, the author’s thought exercise of ‘let’s pretend that Frankenstein really did make the Monster, what science would he have used?’ was stretched way too far, making me want to yell at the book, “It’s not real, Mary Shelley made it up, there’s not meant to be a scientific explanation”. Anyway, I enjoyed most of the bits about Mary Shelley, I thought it was interesting considering the whole internet trope of Mary being a teenager and writing Frankenstein at a house party is not as simple as that trope makes out, yes, Mary was a teenager (just, she was 19) but 19 year olds in the 18th century were pretty grown up, she’d already had a child and her own childhood had not been ideal, so she would have grown up pretty quickly. Also, as the book points out, she started Frankenstein at the house party, she didn’t finish it there, the whole process took months. Sorry to go on, but that whole internet trope thing annoys me, teenagers have enough to worry about these days without wondering whether they should be attending house parties and inventing new forms of fiction before they’re 20. Anyway, I also enjoyed the bits about the body snatchers, I did not enjoy the painfully long chapter about frog legs.
The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste
Hmmm, this was okay, it certainly kept me reading but a little bit of that was just so I could get to the end, to see what happened and get the story over and done with. The Bone Keeper tells the story of an urban legend coming alive in the woods around Liverpool, there were one or two genuinely hair raising bits, particularly the bit with the tunnel at the beginning but the tunnel bit was so much better than some of the other scary bits because you couldn’t see what was happening, that made it a lot more horrifying, as you empathised with the other characters who also couldn’t see what was happening. A lot of the other scary bits were, in my opinion, unnecessarily gruesome, bordering on torture porn. I don’t mind scary/horror books but I need to be invested in the story, the horror should never feel gratuitous and almost, in a way, tacked on. I just couldn’t root for any of the characters.