August rounded up

I must apologise if it has been a quiet month here at I Hug My Books, despite plenty of reading fun behind the scenes, it seems I’ve had little or no time to share my thoughts. On a positive note though, this means that I have many upcoming reviews soon to be published and I can’t wait to let you all know about the great books I’ve recently discovered.

I started August by finishing How To Be A Woman by Caitln Moran, a book I absolutely loved and which had a huge impact upon me. It made me truly rethink so many of my principles and although I didn’t agree with all of Moran’s opinions it did remind me of the importance of nurturing and acknowledging my own feelings.

I then moved onto The Hunger Games, a book totally different to How To Be A Woman but one I still deeply enjoyed. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a book that you can just get your teeth stuck into. I couldn’t put it down from page one and frankly that’s sometimes all I want from a book.

I then moved onto a book I probably would never have read had it not being chosen for my book group. The book in question was Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion and my review is soon to be published. I enjoyed this book, but in the midst of a month of brilliant reading, this book finds itself firmly at the bottom of the pile.

Last, but by no means least, I read The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. This book links beautifully with Zafon’s other two novels The Shadow Of The Wind and The Angels Game and it took me no effort at all to become addicted to this story. So much so that no sooner had I started it then I had finished it. I must say it’s definitely spoilt my reading appetite, nothing I’ve picked up since seems quite as worthy. Fingers crossed it wont be too long till Zafon’s next offering.

So that was August for me. I’ve just started Q by Evan Mandery, I do hope the story picks up soon, because even though I’m only fifty pages in the story is really dragging. But what about everyone else? What did you read in August? Anything you could recommend? Anything that really got you talking? And what do you have planned for September?

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How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

How To Be A Woman first found its way into my hands a year ago when a very lovely friend gave me it as a gift. As you can see from the note she wrote inside ‘I hope this book makes you as happy as it made me‘, she had high hopes that I would fall for Moran’s writing. Off course I was delighted to receive such a lovely gift, but if I’m being completely candid, yes I had reservations.

How To Be A Woman, written by a woman I’ve never even met before?! My first reaction was one of slight stubbornness and a good douse of disbelief. Why after twenty-six years of being female would I need a total stranger to tell me the secrets of ‘being a woman’? Then I read the blurb and realised this was also a book on feminism and I’m now ashamed to say I let out a loud groan of dissatisfaction.

I’m not a feminist! I don’t need to burn my bra’s or march against woman’s right, life is good, there’s nothing to ‘moan’ about. Oh, how wrong I was, how very wrong. Two weeks after finishing this book and I can’t believe I ever made such bogus, irrational and quite frankly ridiculous statements.

Read the below extract from the book and tell me what you think?

I realised that its technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism. Without feminism, you wouldn’t be allowed to have a debate on a woman’s place in society. You’d be too busy giving birth on the kitchen floor – before going back to quick-liming the dunny. This is why those female columnists in the Daily Mail – giving daily wail against feminism – amuse me. They paid you £1,600 for that, dear, I think. And I beat it’s going in your bank account, and not your husband’s. The more women argue, loudly against feminism, the more they prove it exists and that they enjoy it’s hard-won privileges’.

It was from around this paragraph on that I began to see the light at the end of tunnel. After years of perceiving feminism as a simply overly angry and outdated movement the blinkers began to come off and I realised that feminism was not only all around me, but an important movement that must never die out.

I chose to go to work today and tonight I’m writing my opinions in my blog. Simple choices that we daily take for granted and yet would I swap my laptop for some washing up gloves? My own voice for that of all of male societies? No. And for that off course I must thank feminism.

So after reeling in my attention with her powerful and provoking opening, Moran continued to dazzle and amaze me with her witty, outrageous and refreshingly honest prose. No punches are pulled in her ‘part memoir, part rant’. Which details Moran’s experiences from her first period, to body images, through to pregnancies, sexism and abortion.

I didn’t agree with all of her theories or ideas. I don’t think for example think that there is more pressure on women than men to portray themselves through their clothes. Nor have I quite made my own mind up on lap dancing bars, a subject Moran debates in great detail. I believe woman have a choice to do as they please, so long as they are safe and happy.

But then another part of me does despair at women who seem to sell themselves in such a one-dimensional, objectified and sexual way. There’s nothing worse than seeing a woman caked in three inches of make-up, wearing vertigo inducing heels and the most miniscule of clothing. It wasn’t until I read How To Be A Woman that my underdeveloped and unattended opinions began to take real form. In short this is a truly thought-provoking book.

Perhaps the most admirable piece of the whole book though is when Moran talks about the reason why sexism exists. There was none of the ‘girls your boyfriend secretly wants to kill you, he must be destroyed’ anger that I had expected and instead a very honest and brave admission that woman are overlooked as the weaker sex because for so many years we have being.

We are physically the weaker sex….so to the powerful came education, discussion, and the conception of ‘normality’…without citites, philosophers, empires, armies, politicians, explorers, scientists and engineers – women were the losers’. 

Off course Moran isn’t anti woman. She’s actually pro men and woman. She just highlights the simple fact that woman have, for many years, being the weaker sex and despite great advances in feminism we’ve not even begun to show the world what we’re made off. Were coming out the shadows after years of being looked down upon, even by ourselves and we have a voice.

It does help that Moran is so side-splitting funny, there just aren’t enough books that simply make you laugh out loud. I’ve read mixed reviews of this book and I know many people who didn’t like. But I also know many people who love it. My advice is this; men and woman read this book! Try it, feminist or not. You might hate it, you might love it, either way I’m sure it will get you talking and after all that’s what good books do.

July Reflections

They say better late than never and hopefully that’s true. I’ve being meaning to sit down and share my thoughts with you on the wonderful books that I read in July and yet I keep getting side-tracked by a book that I’m currently reading and can’t put down. But enough of that for now, firstly it’s time to re-cap on July’s reading.

I began the month by reading Every Last One by Anna Quindlen, a book that on it’s on I did love, however pitted against the other brilliant books that I read in July somehow became overshadowed and paled in comparison. Every Last One, the story of a mother whose world becomes shattered and turned upside down when her family is hit by tragedy, is a compelling and intriguing story. Whilst it may not have been the best book that I read in July it is certainly worth a read.

Next up I chose a darker and more gothic novel in the form of The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. I first discovered Waters at the end of the year but I quickly fell in love with her writing style and talent for story telling. The Little Stranger was no disappointment, gripping from the first page, I couldn’t put this novel down. From the haunted feel of Hundred’s Hall to the complex decline of its residents. This is an intelligent and entertaining novel that you wont easily forget.

From ghosts to fantasy the next book I chose to read was Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. I chose this book for my book group in July and didn’t regret my choice. Whilst not everyone loved the book most did and I was happy to find a group of people with whom I could pick apart this rich and complex work. Northern Lights still ranks as one of my all time favourite books and for anyone put off by the fact that the book was originally a children’s story, fear not this book has just as much to offer an adult audience.

After immersing myself in so much fiction I decided to choose a more factual novel for my next book. This came in the form of Born To Run by Christopher Mcdougall and although I’m yet to share my thoughts on this book it’s enough to say that I was blown away by this story and was shocked to find myself so drawn into a story that essentially centres around running.

Lastly I began How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. I’m currently only half way through this book but Moran gives you so much to think about and muse over that I don’t want to rush a moment of it. Needless to say this is the book that has recently stole so much of my attention and had me up late into the night pouring over Moran’s witty and perceptive take on life and women. I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you when I’ve finished this book.

So that was July for me, ghosts, running, feminism, family tragedy and children’s fiction. It was certainly an eclectic month to say the least. As usual I don’t have any solid plans for August, other than reading Warm Bodies, a zombie novel, for my book group.

So what about everyone else? What have you all being reading this month? Anything amazing? And what do you have planned for August?