This Month, I ‘Ave Been Mostly Reading…August 2014 edition

Winter in Madrid not shown – I gave it to a friend :-)

Wow. This month has flown by.  I can’t believe that it’s September and that autumn is upon us.  August was a good month for reading.  Inspired by my holiday in Madrid I read two novels set in Spain and participated in a read-a-thon and generally did a lot of bookish things.

 

Books I bought this month:

The Luminaries

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing

I am Pilgram

Books I read this month:

The Sun Also Rises

Winter in Madrid

Christine Falls

Netherland

On Beauty

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing

 

Bookish Activities:

I participated in the #boutofbooks read-a-thon, which you can read about here and here.  I also spent a great deal of time on twitter (unsurprisingly), which is bad for both my productivity and my TBR pile.

 

Book of the Month – On BeautyOn Beauty

This novel lay neglected on my bookshelf for years.  Several people both on and offline suggested it to me but, for some reason, I always found myself reaching for something different.  I think I had got it into my head that this was a ‘difficult’ novel and thus rarely found myself in the humour to tackle it.  Yet, On Beauty, as it turns out, is quite the page turner – equal parts tragic and equal parts comic.

 

It follows a family – the Belseys – in Boston and in London as they struggle their way through adolescence, early adulthood and middle age.  The backdrop to all of this is a long-standing feud this family have with another, – the Kippses – all of which is prompted by academic rivalry between the families’ two paternal figures.

 

Much of the novel takes place in and around a fictional university, which rings familiar with me since I work in one of these institutions.  In fact, I imagine that part of my liking of this book derives from the fact that I know the types of characters described within.

 

Honorable Mention – The Sun Also Rises

This is another novel that I expected to be ‘difficult’ and, worse, which I fully intended on loathing even as I embarked on reading it.  I was turned off Hemingway after reading the Old Man and the Sea in my late teens.  Yet, even reading the book with this sour frame of mind, it slowly won me over with its beautiful descriptions of France and Spain and its rich, complex themes.  There are several ways of viewing its characters and I haven’t quite settled on which approach feels the most true – is Hemingway a misogynist, a homophobe and an anti-semite? Or is he feminist by having a female character who fully embraces her independence?

In any case, reading the Sun Also Rises has made me a little less hostile to Hemingway and I’m now more open to reading more of his work in the future.

4 Comment

  1. Gemma says: Reply

    Sounds like you had a good reading month! I’ve been meaning to read On Beauty for ages so thank you for reminding me about it.

    1. thenovelprojectchronicle says: Reply

      Thanks. Glad to remind you of it 🙂

  2. Laura says: Reply

    I was exactly the same with On Beauty – I had it on my shelf for ages before I picked it up and then felt instantly stoopid for leaving it alone for so long. I don’t even know why I was so hesitant, because I absolutely LOVE White Teeth (and pretty much everything Zadie Smith has written).

    1. thenovelprojectchronicle says: Reply

      Haha. I know it’s so weird why we sometimes have that irrational reaction towards a novel that we actually want to read 🙂

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