What I’m Reading – May 2019

I love May. Is that month when everything springs into life as the days get longer and the temperatures begin to rise (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere). As the sun creeps out from behind the clouds, it’s easy to basque in the rays with a good book in hand.

This month books have been preparatory for what I hope to be a fruitful reading summer. Dotted with surrealist fiction and autobiographical prose, May has left me thoughtful and inspired.

Lanny (2019)

by Max Porter

I was captivated with Max Porter’s pen with his debut novel Grief is the Thing with Feathers, so I was excited to pick up Lanny.

There’s not enough praise in the world for Porter’s magic. While his first book was a true work of art (and I’ll be forever damned that I couldn’t attend the theatrical adaptation), Lanny simply took my breath away.

Lanny tells the story of life in a British village in the commuter belt, and how its members come together and apart in a poetic tale of mystery, angst and magical realism. And, wow.

Anything mythical or magical will catch my eye in the world of literature, yet I have to admit I hadn’t loved a book this much in a very long time. Every character has a distinctive voice, and as the reader progresses through the story it becomes easier and easier to identify. Once I’d reached the end I was left hopeless and devastated – angry with the book, the writer, and myself.

Books… no, GOOD books need to leave a lasting impression on us. Even if we don’t go back to re-read them, the titles should be at the ready when we engage in conversations or come up in our thoughts. Lanny is one of these books. I can’t recommend it enough. Please, just go read it and talk to me when you do.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (1969)

by Maya Angelou

My bookcase is a mix between newly published works, academia and the odd classic here and there. Maya Angelou’s hallmark book is one of the classics I purchased in my brief but fantastic stay in Hay, from the marvellous bookshop Addyman Books.

Angelou’s account of her own childhood in the Southern states in the 1930s is compelling. Dotted with the innocence of a child, she narrates her experience growing up in segregation as well as overcoming child abuse and parental neglection. Knowing that this was a true story and not fiction made every chapter more poignant.

I followed Maya’s own storyline hungry for a happy ending. Her writing transports you into the story, to the point that I could see her grandmother’s backyard and taste the soda. How I love this writing when descriptions are so vivid.

I wish I had read this when I was younger, as the style seems more appropriate for high school students. Towards the end, it became quite heavy and less engaging so in a sense, I feel I was a bit too old for the book. Nonetheless, it’s a must-read for all of us.

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