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June 2016 Reading Round-Up

Why is it that it can feel the year is going by very fast until you reflect on what you’ve done in that time? Weird, isn’t it? Here are the books I read in June:

All books are works of fiction.

The Books

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Abubakar Adam Ibrahim: Season Of Crimson Blossoms – When Reza breaks in to Binta’s house the woman finds a desire for him under her terror and when he returns in peace they begin an affair. A very good book about a relationship between a young gang leader and an elder of the community that looks at society as well as the self.

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Frédéric Dard: Bird In A Cage – Upon returning home, Albert goes to the restaurant he was too poor to visit as a child and becomes acquainted with a woman who has an aura of mystery. Difficult to sum up without giving it all away, this is a short, filler-less thriller and rather good.

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Marie Sizun: Her Father’s Daughter – France has never known her father, a prisoner of war, and believes that his homecoming will destroy the bond she has with her mother. Excellent novella from Peirene Press.

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Pamela Hartshorne: House Of Shadows – Kate wakes up in hospital with amnesia and the memories she undercovers have nothing to do with her present situation except in the way those around her seem to hate her. Good premise poorly executed.

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Shan Sa: Empress – A fictionalisation of the life of Empress Wu Ze Tian of the 600s, detailing her journey from commoner and low-ranking concubine to leader of China. This was a re-read for me and I enjoyed it just enough but wouldn’t particularly recommend it. (It was interesting to note the difference in my enjoyment from teen years to now, however.)

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Tahmima Anam: The Bones Of Grace – Zubaida meets Elijah at the cinema and his arrival in her life brings upheaval to already-laid plans to return home and marry her childhood friend once her palaeontological studies are over. I’d say this is a book you’ll either love or strongly dislike – I’m in the love it camp (my review will be objective).

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Xiaolu Guo: A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers – Zhuang Xiao Qiu, who goes by ‘Z’ because westerners cannot pronounce her name, has travelled to England to learn English to better her prospects back home; she meets a man she comes to love but their relationship is ruled by both a cultural divide and a personality mis-match. I found this a lot better than Guo’s later I Am China; there’s a lot more literary thinking behind it and less editing problems, though as far as a recommendation goes I must point out you have to be happy with the idea of reading a book written entirely in broken English (it’s one of the concepts).

This wasn’t the most literarily pleasurable months I’ve had – that made-up term again – but the diversity went a long way towards smoothing that out. There were three books I loved: the Ibrahim, the Sizun, and the Anam, all for very different reasons and thus it’d be difficult for me to choose between them as far as favourites go (Ibrahim’s method; Sizun’s concept and point of view; Anam’s sheer uniqueness) but I can’t say the others weren’t fun either. Guo’s book was a very easy read and I appreciated the way she brought development and reality to a character you never hear from directly through the use of another’s broken English. Hartshorne may have given the game away within moments but I still enjoyed the ride. Dard is a master of succinctness. And Sa, whilst I can now see the flaws, has had a big impact on my history lover self since I first read her.

Quotation Report

None this time.

When I’ve read a good number of books in the first six months of a year, I often hope to match it in the latter six. Here’s hoping we all meet our reading goals!

How many books do you hope to read by the end of the year?


April Munday

July 1, 2016, 7:01 pm

I stupidly signed up for the Goodreads reading challenge again this year for 90 books. Last year I read 103, many of them big non-fiction books, so 90 seemed reasonable. I’ve read 23.
A fair number this year are non-fiction, but I’ve set myself the task of reading books that I’ve had on my shelves for a long time and I’m beginning to understand why some of them have been there so long. These tend to be more ‘literary’ books. I’m currently reading a book of Pulitzer Prize-winning short stories that I bought over 20 years ago. We’re not getting on, but I’m determined to finish it, not least because the blurb describes the author as the ‘best writer we have’. Perhaps you have to be American.
I’m also reading The English Patient, which I bought when it first came out in paperback in 1993. I couldn’t get into it then, but I’m enjoying it now.
In my bones I feel that it’s wrong to have a book reading target. You should read books because they give you pleasure or teach you something, not because you have a goal to achieve. It doesn’t stop me being annoyed with myself for having read less than a quarter of the books I thought I would have read by now.


July 1, 2016, 7:18 pm

You’ve done well this month. They all look fascinating. I hope to hit 100 this year!
Happy July!


July 2, 2016, 7:45 am

Well done on your diversity this month. I hope in July you are able to bring the diversity and literary pleasure together :-)

I don’t have a number of books I hope to reach by the end of the year. I just hope to enjoy as much as I can :-)


July 10, 2016, 8:41 pm

I’ve aimed for 80, but I’ll be happier if I reach 100. Anything more and I feel like I’m reading to reach a goal, because naturally I’m a 2 books a week kinda girl.

Looks like you’ve had a very interesting month of reading! Shame it’s not been as pleasureable as hoped.