Book Challenge 2017: Months 4-6
Every three months, I'm sharing my progress with the Book Challenge, aiming to read a book a month, one from each of the given categories. I already read a lot, but I thought it would get me to widen my net a little. You can read my selected list from way back in January here, and the round-up of months 1-3 here.
Here are my reads from April, May and June.
April: A non-fiction book based on a popular or topical subject
The Little Book of Hygge, Meik Wiking
'Hygge' was everywhere in the second half of 2016, and I was given a copy of this book for Christmas. Hygge is an atmosphere or experience, best described as feeling cosy, warm, comfortable, at home and in good company. A concept originally from Denmark, it's easy to see why the idea is such an appealing one.
In this beautiful little book, Wiking explains what hygge means to him and to Danes in general, and provides tips to add a little more hygge into all aspects of life. I found it a really calming, comforting read, and it's a good one to keep dipping in and out of.
May: A book that has previously been banned
Beloved, Toni Morrison
This has been recommended to me numerous times over the years, so I'm glad I've finally sat down and turned its pages. Set in mid-1800s Kentucky, with abolitionists working in the background, this novel focuses on one family of women. Sethe and her daughter Denver, the ghost of their dead grandmother (Baby Sugg), and a lost baby, dead at her mother's hands, are at the centre of the tale, and a mysterious visitor enters the home.
It's a powerful, horrifying, raw story, with a strong focus on family and womanhood. At times it lost me a little, particularly in part two where the style is a blend of stream of consciousness and poetry, but this almost made the book work better, as nothing is being shaped or bent to suit the reader. You are being shown into the women's world, and if there are parts of it you can't access or don't understand, then so be it. There are parts of this story that I'm sure will stay with me for a long time.
June: A book with more than 400 pages
Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult
Confession time: I changed this choice! Originally, my book for this category was Don Quixote, but I was really resisting picking it up. For some reason, the thought of reading it was feeling like a chore, so I decided to bypass that one and pick up something I really wanted to read.
Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors and has been for years, and I spotted this in the supermarket recently and couldn't resist. A newborn baby dies in hospital after a routine procedure, in the presence of an African American nurse the baby's father had requested not treat his baby, purely because of her race. This leads to a court case examining race and justice in the workplace and in America in general, a story made all the more powerful against the backdrop of grief.
Yet again, Picoult has delivered a novel that's hard to put down - in fact, I read all 450 + pages in a single day. The comments from Jodi Picoult at the end of the novel are also extremely interesting, where she discusses the choice to write about an issue so complex, especially when she is a white woman, herself.
I really enjoyed all three of these, with Small Great Things clearly being my favourite. I'm slightly frustrated that I changed one of my choices, but I do want to actually enjoy the reading process and I just didn't feel like that was going to happen!
The next book challenge round-up will be here in a couple of months...