May has felt like a very long month! I had an exam right at the beginning of the month, and I’ve got another at the start of June. Because of that, May has been a month of re-reads and revision. But I thought I’d wrap it up anyway!
The first book I read was Virginia Woolf’s A Room Of One’s Own. It’s a transcript of a speech she gave to a lady’s college on the topic of women and fiction. The premise of the speech is that women need money and room of their own to be able to write fiction – although she also talks about Jane Austen who wrote in the main room, covering up her work every time someone came in. It’s a meandering speech with multiple contradictions, but it’s really worth a read.
Next I read both House of Mirth and The Reef, which are both by Edith Wharton. House of Mirth is the story of socialite Lily Bart who, at the age of twenty-nine, is under pressure to find a husband and get married. Not wanting to settle for anyone, whilst simultaneously desperate to marry into big money, she find herself in debt in an attempt to keep up appearances. In The Reef, George Darrow is on his way to France to marry the woman he has been in love with all his life. Whilst waiting in Paris, he bumps into Sophy Viner, a maid for a woman whose house he used to visit, and decides to treat her for the weekend. Six months later, and things appear to be right on track for Darrow and his fiancé Anna until her son Owen announces his intention to marry the governess. When the governess arrives, it turns out she is Sophy Viner, and things become a bit awkward for everyone.
I loved House of Mirth and somehow on the re-read it was even better. Lily Bart is an intensely likable character, despite her many flaws, and her plot is truly heart-breaking. I spent the entire book begging people to believe her, begging Selden to see her and hoping she would come to her senses. A really good read.
The Reef was slightly less enjoyable for me as I felt less sympathy towards all of the characters. I also didn’t really understand what the big fuss was, and why Darrow and Sophy couldn’t just have been honest with Anna and Owen right from the off. Still a good read though!
Finally, the last book I read was a collection of Virginia Woolf’s Selected Short Stories. I enjoy Woolf’s fiction but not as much as her essays, so these were relatively ‘meh’ for me. I feel like Woolf’s style is much more suited to the short story (particularly after reading her Novel Night and Day a couple of months back). Somehow having a shortened work means the lengthy sentences and surreal descriptions are more manageable. I particularly enjoyed The Lady in the Looking Glass and Lappin and Lapinova.
And that’s all I read in May. It doesn’t look like a lot, but I was reading lots of critical material alongside it.
I am super excited for June as it means I finally get to read entirely for pleasure! There are loads of books on my shelf that I’m just dying to read.
First things first, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I got this book for Christmas and I’ve heard so much about it but haven’t got round to picking it up just yet.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I love Zadie Smith’s writing, but haven’t read this yet! Same goes for my next read…
On Beauty by Zadie Smith.
Johnathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. Again this was a book I got for Christmas and haven’t been able to read. Its only tiny, so I should speed through it!
And finally, Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookshop by Robin Sloane. Both my sister and my dad have read this and enjoyed it, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what all the hype is about!
I'm also going to be participating in the Read-Your-Book-Shelf-A-Thon. This runs from the 16th -23rd of June, wherever you are in the world. The premise of the read-a-thon is to literally pick a place in your book shelf and just read from there, along the entirety of your shelf. If you've already read the book then you are allowed to skip it. I won't list all the books I'm planning on reading, but basically I'm going to start from whichever book I'm currently reading and read on from there. I'll try and post daily (or at least every-other-day) updates about my progress and will be tweeting using the #RYBSAT tag. I'll also post a proper TBR the day before the read-a-thon begins. Blog will resume normal service after the read-a-thon.
I think I’ll cap my reading list there for now! I’ve got a lot of plans for June, and I want to enjoy reading these books rather than feeling like I have to just because I said I would. What are your reading plans for June? Have you read anything I’m planning on? Let me know in the comments or by tweeting me @VickiMaitland.