I’ve never been much of a book worm. However, I’ve recently decided to kick my Candy Crush, Candy Crush Soda and Farm Heroes Saga addictions by spending my commuting time reading instead; I’ve been put down my phone and picked up several books!
I’ll share a few thoughts on what I read on a monthly basis and would love recommendations in the comments section. Hopefully posting my reading list will motivate me to carry on with this new habit…
Em and the Big Hoom
My sister picked this book up during her travels in India over the summer. It is an absolute gem of a book about a mentally ill mother of two children based in Bombay; I felt a wealth of emotion reading this book. We learn about Em, a bipolar woman, through the eyes of her son as he tries to understand his own mother through an interview-like conversation sprinkled with anecdotes, recollections, letters and diaries from the time of the parents’ 12-year courtship. The changes in the family dynamics are beautifully captured as Em transitions through her manic and depressive phases, from the highs to the lows. The language used by Em can be vulgar and brash, creative and confusing at times but these tools are used to express her mental states.
Em and the Big Hoom is an work of fiction in opening up the discussion on mental health issues in India today. My favourite thing about this is book is that it’s written through the eyes of her son for the most part. The effect of mental health issues and disability of a parent on their child is little talked about and often overlooked but this book highlights this important view-point whilst expressing the individual and group battles wonderfully. As such, the book has really hit a chord with me and I would highly recommend it. 5* rating all round.
A Little Knowledge: What Archimedes Really Meant and 80 Other Key Ideas Explained
I have always wanted a grasp of the big ideas in greek and modern philosophy, economics, psycoholgy and all those other subjects that feed cultured conversation that I know little about. This book is the perfect remedy to my the ignorance.
I was able to skim over the sections on physics and mathematics and focused my energies on understanding the big ideas outside of these disciplines. The book is clearly divided up and each concept is explained without assumption of prior knowledge; a complete beginner can comprehend enough of the subject matter as to not feel lost if it comes up in conversation. If you have never been properly exposed to the big ideas (or even if you have and you want a refresher) this is an incredibly well-written and well-researched book.
A Room of One’s Own
Virginia Woolf has a very distinct way of writing, evident even in this extended essay. A Room of One’s Own explores the reasons behind why great female writers are few and far between (or were at her time). This is a relatively easy book to follow in which a fictional narrator and narrative is created to explore the history of women as writers and as characters in works of fiction. This extended essay exposes the need of one own’s space to have clarity and coherence in writing in both a physical and a figural capacity. This is a great example of feminist text which everyone should read. Whilst the world of literature has become more level in term of the sex of an author, science and other industries are still dominated by men. The concepts expressed in this text can be extrapolated to other disciplines to understand why we see these discrepancies even today.
A women must have money and a room of her own if she is to write.
The Man Within
I knew nothing of Graham Greene before picking up this book except that apparently he is a must-read author according to a good friend.
The story is about Andrews, a man who betrayed his fellow smugglers to escape from the trade. He is running from his comrades in fear of his life when he stumbles across an isolated home belonging to Elizabeth who like him, is alone in the world. As the story progresses and the character develops, the Freudian relationship Andrew has with his dead father surfaces and becomes a recurring theme. The man is self-depricating, self-pitying and outwardly cowardly but he is in constant battle against this nature when he is persuaded to take the brave route and to testify against his former colleagues.
I found this book a little dull to start with but my patience was rewarded and the book transformed into an exciting story. The writing itself came across a little disjointed and erratic at times but it worked well in mirroring the main character’s inner turmoil. This was a very easy read and I look forward to reading some of the ‘great novels’ by Graham Greene next.