What I Read in May & June 2016

Whoops! Totally neglected to write my reading list for May, so I’m including it here. I’ve decided to simplify the things I include to help make sure I actually write the column each month. From now on, there will be: no ratings or ‘books bought’ lists, and a briefer statistics summary. And that’s enough with the introduction. Here’s what I’ve been reading over the past couple of months:

What I Read in May & June

On Corpulence: Feeding the Body and Feeding the Mind, by William Banting and Lewis Carroll
Finished on 6 May – Paperback

On CorpulenceThis is a little book of just two essays. One on feeding the body and one on feeding the mind (obvs). Interestingly, the essay on feeding the body extolled the virtues of a diet similar to paleo and SCD, which was gratifying. The essay on feeding the mind (by Carroll) surprised me. I thought he’d be talking about how important it is to constantly feed the mind new information by reading lots of books, but actually he talks about how we shouldn’t mindlessly consume whatever crap comes our way. We should be picky about what we consume and, more importantly, we should take the time to ruminate on what we consume. Because, yeah, what’s the point of consuming lots of information if we never take the time to think it over and apply it to our lives?

Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story, by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Finished on 17 May – Audiobook

ArnieI’d heard several people bang on about how amazing and inspiring this book is. And, yeah, I will concede Arnie is an impressive guy: insanely driven and goes after what he wants. He makes shit happen and didn’t stop to dwell on whether he can actually achieve it. He just goes and fucking does it. So yeah, it was inspiring in that way. It was interesting to hear about his life as a bodybuilder and movie star, too, though the governor stuff towards the end got a little dull. Not surprisingly, all the people I’d heard shouting about the awesomeness of this book were men. Because, well, the guy is basically a massive fucking douche with a sad attitude towards women. And I love that he waited till the very end of the book to drop in the chapter about how he cheated on his wife and fathered the housekeeper’s baby. Stay classy, Arnie.

Small Blog, Big Income: One Niche Blogger’s 7 Step Success Formula, by Carol Tice
Finished on 18 May – Kindle

Small Blog, Big IncomeI’m a big fan of Carol’s blog, Make a Living Writing. The lady knows her shit and shares original, useful information along with personal insights. It isn’t just another generic freelance writing blog full of top 10 lists of bullshit. But this isn’t a review of Carol’s blog. It’s a review of one of her books. Overall the information in the book was solid, and definitely helpful for a newbie. I didn’t really learn anything new from it myself, although I am always interested in hearing specific details about freelance writers’ own careers, so it was good in that regard. But this book falls victim to something that pisses me off about the self-publishing industry: not as much care is taken over self-published books. To me books are sacred things, you know? And there were a number of careless typos and formatting errors in here that could have easily been avoided, especially since it’s such a short book. Sigh.

Charmed Life (The Chrestomanci Series, Book 1), by Diana Wynne Jones
Finished on 27 May – Kindle

Charmed LifeOhh, I love me some Diana Wynne Jones. That lady knew how to create characters and worlds you fall for (see also: Howl’s Moving Castle). This book is the first in the Chrestomanci series, and it’s a goodun. Witches, warlocks and enchanters abound (actually, I guess the enchanters don’t abound, since they are, by nature, rare, but I can’t say more or I’ll spoil it for you), along with secret entrances to other worlds and some entertaining, inventive magic displays. There were some fantastic reveals that made me go ‘Holy shit! Ahh, that’s awesome!’ too. And let’s not forget about Chrestomanci himself: what a badass. There are six other books in this series, and I will definitely be checking them out at some point. I’ve already got the second one lined up on my Kindle. If you like fantasy but have never read any Diana Wynne Jones, Jesus Christ, you need to get on the case. Love her.

The Latte Years: A Story of Losses, Gains and Life Beyond the After Photo, by Philippa Moore
Finished on 3 June – Kindle

The Latte YearsI really enjoyed this honest, laid-bare memoir of Philippa’s (who I have since been chatting with on Twitter. Sup Phil!). Phil went from overweight and unhappy to not overweight and slightly less unhappy, and finally to healthy and happy. This isn’t a story about weight loss, but one about realising that life can be fucking fabulous if you’re not afraid to grab it by the balls and do what’s right for you rather than everyone else. I particularly loved reading about Phil’s globe-trotting adventures, and it made me long to get back on the road myself. I mostly read this outside in the sun, which definitely helped my enjoyment. Yay sunshine!

Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy, by Ophira Eisenberg
Finished on 15 June – Paperback

Screw EveryoneA memoir about sex, written by a comedian. We’re already off to a good start. Brutally honest with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, this book about Ophira’s sexual adventures was an easy and enjoyable read. I found myself cringing more as the book went on and Ophira went from reckless teenager sleeping around to adult with low self esteem getting into weird situations because what else was there to do? I wasn’t completely sold that she was totally into her ‘one true love’ by the end, either, to be honest. Didn’t seem like her heart was in it. But meh, that’s her business. Still a fun read.

Knots and Crosses (Inspector Rebus, Book 1), by Ian Rankin
Finished on 20 June – Audiobook

Rebus 1I’d been struggling to get through audiobooks lately, finding myself preferring to watch a show on Netflix instead. I figured I should choose something easy and compelling to help me get over this hump. So: thrillers. I don’t read thrillers much (in fact, I think maybe the Dan Brown books are the only ones I’ve read aside from this? Hmm). I don’t know, they just don’t appeal to me. Anyway, I chose to start the Rebus books because my brother and mum both like them, and because they’re set in Edinburgh, which I figured would enhance my enjoyment (it did). The first book seemed kind of generic to me, although it definitely met my requirement of being easy and compelling to listen to. I’m not sure how I feel about Inspector Rebus. Interesting for sure, but damn, the guy drinks and drives a lot. Not cool, dude.

The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood
Finished on 21 June – Kindle

The Heart Goes LastOh, Mags. I love you, but come on. What even was this? You got off to a promising start, but then what the hell was all that at the end? I loved the sound of the book, and I love Margaret Atwood, so duh – of course I was going to read it. The premise is basically this: society has gone to shit, the economy has collapsed, crime is fucking everywhere, the main characters (a young couple) are living in their car. When they hear about a new program – The Positron Project – they go for it. The Positron Project is an enclosed town housing two places: Consilience – a regular town where everyone gets to live a nice suburban life, live in a nice house and have a nice job – and Positron – a prison. There are two populations, who switch between the town and the prison every month. I’m a little fuzzy on why this would be good economically, but what the hell. Still, an interesting premise. Then it all gets a bit weird and silly. I think maybe it was meant to be funny? But I don’t go to Margaret Atwood for funny/silly. I go to her for epic dystopian tales. Read Oryx and Crake instead, which is fucking marvellous (and possibly set me up with too-high expectations for this).

My May/June Book Statistics

Books read: 8

Fiction: 3
Non-fiction: 5

Audiobooks: 2
Kindle books: 4
Paperbacks: 2

Progress towards 2016 reading goal: 51/75 (68%)

Normally I’d include the ‘books bought’ section here, but yeah, I’ve decided to ditch it because it seems kind of irrelevant. Doesn’t matter if I buy a book if I don’t actually read it, you know? Suffice it to say, I still buy a lot. I mostly buy books when I find them cheap on Kindle or Audible, in case you’ve been wondering how the hell I can afford so many.

If you want to keep up with what I’m currently reading, you can follow me on Goodreads.

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    1. This is really interesting! I didn’t realise Howl’s Moving Castle was a book before this. There’s a piano theme for Howl’s Moving Castle that I really like to listen to. I first heard it when my brother-in-law and sister played it to me. They love gaming and it apparently featured in some game soundtrack or something (not entirely sure, actually).

      Anyway, if the piano piece is an accurate reflection of the book, it must be quite good…and fun and imaginative and whimsical. I should seriously consider giving the Chrestomanci series a read!

      1. Yes! Howl’s Moving Castle is an amaaaazing book! There are actually three in the series: Castle in the Air, which I loved, and The House of Many Ways, which I expected to love… but didn’t :/

        And yes, definitely give the Chrestomanci books a try, too! I think ‘charming’ is probably one of the best words to describe them :)

    2. Cushty!
      I enjoyed The Latte Years this month; high five for bringing that to my attention! Did I ever bang on about Arnie’s book to you? I did to most people – and I’d TOTALLY forgotten about the cheating bit! All I could remember from the book was the Terminator attitude to getting what you want and Jean Claude Van Damme being a douche. Time for some self-reflection and meditating on gender. Well done for refreshing my memory!

      1. Haha, I don’t recall you banging on about Arnie to me, no. I lay no blame on you for this! And yes, highly recommend reviewing how many books you read by women. Odds are it’s massively skewed towards men.

        1. Consider that a done deal – spreadsheet time! You know I’m gonna have to check my list against the grand total of all published authors, right? :D I’m supposed to be on holiday this week!

          1. Hahaha. Unfortunately I expect most published authors are men, too. I reckon if even a quarter of your reading is by female authors at this point you’re doing well.

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