Sunday, 4 December 2016

Books I Read in November

November was quite a busy month for me, I've had three coursework deadlines and a Persian oral test so unfortunately reading kind of took a back seat. Still, I managed to get through quite a few books, and am currently playing catch up before my exams. So, here are the books I read this month:

A Passage to India- EM Forster

I think A Passage to India was one of my favourite books this month. It mainly follows Indian doctor Aziz and his interaction with the white British colonialists, questioning whether friendships can be formed between the two races. I really enjoy reading about the British colonial period, and this book was no exception. It was sometimes a little on the line in terms of racism but I do think at least one of Forster's aims with this novel was to provide a different perspective on the relationship between the British colonialists and Indians by portraying the Indians as human, rather than simply as servants or criminals as can be the case within other novels based in a similar time period. As with all books written in the past, you do have to take into account the social norms during the time that they are published- yes, the language used to describe the Indians within the novel is controversial by today's standards and although it still doesn't make it acceptable or unoffensive, at the time it would have been normal and people would not have known any different. Despite this, I still think it was a great read.

The Lonely Londoners- Sam Selvon

Another book that I enjoyed this month. I wouldn't say I enjoyed it quite as much as A Passage to India, but it was good nevertheless. It's about a group of black Caribbean men who have emigrated to London during the 1950s, and follows them as they carve out new lives within the capital. It's written entirely in the creole dialect, which helps to create a realistic atmosphere, and I really enjoyed this aspect of it. I think it showed the multicultural side of London which is not normally shown within literature, which I thought was really good. The only thing I didn't like was the lack of chapters! I know this might seem petty, and is not something that is at all related to the novel itself, but I do find it slightly harder to read books that aren't divided into sections for the simple reasons that there are no breaks to go and make a cup of tea.

Hard Times- Charles Dickens

I hate to say it but I think this was my least favourite book of this month. I really love Dickens, and did enjoy his familiar writing style, but this is definetly my least favourite of his works that I've read so far. We learnt in a lecture about it that like many of his novels, this was written to be published as a serial, and this was something that I definielty picked up upon while reading it- at some points I felt like it was a tiny bit disjointed. Another reason that I think I enjoyed it the least out of all of my books was that it came towards the end of my comp lit module. I'll go over this in a little more detail in a later blog post, but we've been studying 19th century novels of adultery from around Europe, and after three months of reading books with similar plot lines, it does get a little tiresome. Granted, the plot line of Hard Times is slightly different from novels such as Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary, but the similarities are definitely there.

Trainspotting- Irvine Welsh

Trainspotting follows the lives of a group of heroin addicts in the Leith area of Edinburgh and I don't think it will be one for everyone!  If you've ever seen the film or read it you'll know what I'm talking about, but don't read it while you're having tea. I don't have a problem reading about violence or anything like that, but after reading this I can safely say that me and really disgusting description do not get on! When I say 'disgusting' I guess it's in a good way? It was so realistic and well done that I literally felt ill at some points! I do think it was a good book though. I really enjoyed it being in the scots dialogue as I thought it really brought the characters and atmosphere to life. I think this is a good one to read if you enjoy the film. The order of events do differ slighty between the two so I don't think it would be a boring read in comparison.

Trumpet- Jackie Kay

Trumpet was without a doubt my favourite read of the month. It's about Joss Moody, a famous jazz trumpeter who has recently died, told thorough a collection of different people who knew him. It becomes apparent within the first few pages of the novel that Joss is in fact biologically a woman, and follows the reaction of various different people as they find out about and come to terms with this fact. I really enjoyed the different perspectives within the novel and I think it allowed Joss to be built as a 3D character, rather than being shown from a single viewpoint. Gender, obviously, is a major theme within the novel and I really liked the way that it questioned what constitutes gender as well as traditional ideas of masculinity. It also deals with racial ideantity and the exent to which the media is willing to go to to get a good story. The characters too are fully formed and the description of their emotions it entirely realistic. I did absolutely hate and get irritated by some of them at times, but I think this is a result of their realisticness- I always really apprieciate it when characters make you feel something. All in all, this is a really interesting and enjoyable read that will make you question your own ideas surrounding gender, and I would recommend it to everyone.

So, those were the books that I read in November! I hope you enjoyed these mini reviews of them. For a large chunk of next month I'll be back home so hopefully I'll be able to read something that isn't related to uni for once!

E x


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