A snowy January is the perfect excuse to snuggle up under a blanket with a cup of peppermint tea and a pile of books. And that's exactly what I've been doing. My New Year's resolution was to read a book a week (more on that soon), and I'm just about to get started book seven.
Here are a few I've enjoyed lately:
The scale of Homegoing is epic, spanning over 200 years in just 300 pages. It starts with two sisters in Ghana, one becomes a British slave trader's wife and the other becomes a slave. Each chapter moves on to the next generation, seven in total, from village life in Africa to the plantations of Mississippi and the dive bars of Harlem. The consequences of slavery are felt on both sides of the family through the generations, and Yaa Gyasi has connected it so well to the present day. It's brilliantly written too, packed full of strong, memorable characters.
I really like Grayon Perry's perspective and his wit (if you haven't listened to his Desert Island Discs, I recommend it), and this great book is full of both. As a man who feels like something of an 'other' within his own gender, Perry has been examining and questioning society's ideas around masculinity since childhood. Here, he looks at four central themes, power, physical appearance, violence and emotion, and considers how men need to change in order to adapt to the modern world.
We're going to Orkney for a month in April and we're so excited. Part of the reason is this brilliant nature memoir. After years of unhappiness and alcoholism in London, Amy Liptrot moves back to Orkney to live on her own, track migrating birds and swim in the sea (in winter!). It slowly heals her. She writes beautifully about nature and The Outrun is both a brave account of overcoming addiction and an interesting look at living on a remote island.
I described parts of Stoner to Colin while I was reading it and even I had to admit that it sounded boring. It's about the quiet life of William Stoner, an English professor at the University of Missouri during the 1930s and 40s, his conflicts at work, his difficult marriage. But it's not really about the plot. I'm not sure how John Williams has managed to make so much out of so little, but Stoner is full of truth and compassion. It only sold 2,000 copies when it was first published in 1965 and went out of print shortly afterwards, but it's now considered an American classic. It's incredibly moving and I loved it.