Random Thoughts: Libraries gave us power, we should use it effectively

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I’ve read a couple of things about the need to protect and fund libraries properly this morning. The first thing was Nikesh Shukla’s column in The Observer. The second was a Twitter thread by Stephen McGann, brought to my attention by Cathy of Cathy Reads Books. Continue reading

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White Houses

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Read 24/07/2018-29/07/2018

Rating: 5 stars

I don’t recall who brought Amy Bloom’s White Houses to my attention, but I’m grateful. Since my first degree I have had a history crush on FDR. It was later that I developed a separate history crush on Eleanor.

Bloom’s book is an imagining of Lorena Hickok’s relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt. The prologue got me thinking about being in thrall to love. Or maybe the feeling of falling in love. Continue reading

Animal

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Read 16/06/2018-27/06/2018

Rating: 5 stars

I love Sara Pascoe. I think she’s one of the funniest people working in comedy. I follow her on Twitter. I love her on QI and Frankie Boyle’s New World Order. I’m going to see her live for the first time in October.

I borrowed her book Animal from the library after I saw a quote from it Tweeted by Pascoe, which I’ll talk about later. I thought it was going to be a straightforward memoir of Pascoe’s life and adventures as a funny feminist woman in the male centric world of British comedy. It is, in a way, but it’s also so much more than that. Continue reading

Random Thoughts: Sleeping in a library

Well, not quite in a library. Almost, though.

My best friend’s husband texted me a couple of months ago to suggest a birthday surprise for his lovely wife. I’ve known Mandy since 1989. We met at a party in our first term at university and shared a house in our final year. Over the twenty six years since graduation, we have been through lots of adventures, but this weekend I think we had our best one yet. Continue reading

When I Hit You

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Read 13/05/2018-17/05/2018

Rating: 5 stars

Meena Kandasamy’s fictionalised account of her abusive marriage is on the short list for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Knowing what it’s about, in very broad terms, I’ve been reluctant to read it, but a couple of glowing reviews piqued my curiosity.

The book describes four months and eight days of domestic abuse and marital rape. It describes why a woman in that situation might not be able to leave, and might not want to leave. It describes how abused women easily disappear from their social circles because the other people in those circles don’t want to look for reasons why.

I found it eye-opening. It made concrete something that I have only thought about abstractly. I’m thankful that I have never been raped, that the worst things I’ve experienced have been isolated incidents of physical and verbal abuse. I read this book from a relatively safe space. I can’t say whether a woman who has experienced or is experiencing the things Kandasamy describes would find it a help or a source of further distress to read this book. I can say that I found it well balanced and honest. Continue reading

I Was Told to Come Alone: My journey behind the lines of jihad

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Read 14/04/2018-22/04/2018

Rating: 4 stars

All you need to know is, you need to read this book.

I became aware of I Was Told to Come Alone when it was included in the March Madness Reading Challenge. After I read Home Fire, I felt like I needed to read something based on the real experience of the young men who become jihadis and the young women who become jihadi brides. So I reserved it at the library. And I’m very glad that I did. Continue reading

Negroland: A Memoir

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Read 14/03/2018-21/03/2018

Rating: 5 stars

I can’t remember where I found out about Margo Jefferson’s memoir Negroland. I thought I’d read a review on one of the book blogs I follow, but a search threw nothing up. Maybe I found it when I was searching for more to read about black experience in a white-dominated society. Maybe I saw it on someone’s Instagram. However it crossed my radar, I’m glad it did. Continue reading