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May 2017 Reading Round-Up

It’s very unlike me to post a round up before the month is over, in fact I think this is the first time, but it’s unlikely I’ll finish any more books today. True to last year’s form I’ve read very little whilst at Hay. Other than this, however, I’ve read a fair amount. As soon as the sun comes out and the weather improves I find myself reading a lot more and this year is no exception. I’m having a reading ball.

The Books

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Tom Malmquist: In Every Moment We Are Still Alive – When Tom’s pregnant wife is diagnosed with late-stage Leukaemia he faces the likelihood that he’s about to become both a widower and a new single father. You’ll find this book in the fiction section because it’s being called a fictional autobiography but everything in it is true; as much as one can use the word it’s a good book.


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Emma Cline: The Girls – In the 1960s, a young teenager spent her time with a group of women lead by a charismatic man, and looking back at the horrors this later caused she reflects on her life. There’s not much here that is original.

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Joanna Cannon: The Trouble With Goats And Sheep – Mrs Creasy disappears during the 1976 heatwave and the village thinks Walter must have something to do with it; meanwhile Grace believes that if God is everywhere he must be at a neighbour’s house and she plans to find him. A great book about discrimination and stereotypes against a backdrop of supposedly perfect domesticity.

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Juan Carlos Márquez: Tangram – A tale of red herrings and seemingly-unrelated stories that culminate in a murder. A very clever use of characterisation of playing with the reader’s assumptions.

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Kit de Waal: My Name Is Leon – Confused as to why he can’t stay with his mother as he is doing a good job looking after her, Leon is taken in by a foster carer whilst his white brother is adopted. A fantastic look at the British social services in the 1980s and the wider issues involved.

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Nicholas Royle: An English Guide To Birdwatching – Silas and Ethel have handed their undertaking business to their son in exchange for a relaxing retirement by the sea, and meanwhile an unrelated Stephen Osmer is hammering out diatribes on his computer keyboard, but both stories are woven together in the form of their unfortunate connection to a literary critic called Nicholas Royle who has unwittingly upset them all. A brilliant piece of meta fiction by one of the two writers called Nicholas Royle.

My favourite this month was the de Waal. It will make my ‘best of’ list; it’s absolutely excellent in every way. The Cannon and the Royle were both pipped to the post; both were a lot of fun. Cannon’s book could have done with a slightly stronger ending, and Royle’s book is only held back by the amount of attention and consideration it requires – it is a great book but de Waal’s is arguably easier to enjoy.

Quotation Report

None this time.

Looking forward, I’ve some books from Hay to read; whilst the usual case of a reader not getting to every book they acquire will likely prevail there are a couple that have gone straight to the top of my list. I’ve the 600 page Christina Stead to get to and get through and I really want to make June the month I read Sarah Perry’s novel. We’ll see!

What book are you currently reading?



May 31, 2017, 5:05 pm

Happy June reading!


June 1, 2017, 8:23 pm

Glad to hear you’ve been having a reading ball! I am currently reading Sandlands, a short story collection by Rosy Thornton, which I am loving so far! Happy summer reading :-)



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