May Reads

May was a lovely reading month for me, I found a new favorite author and indulged in some re-reading.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I started light this month with a wee little book based off a popular Ted Talk. We Should All Be Feminists is a culmination of Adichie’s views on feminism and anecdotes. If you are looking for an in depth discussion on feminism – this isn’t it. But it is an interesting sampler – particularly as it’s from a perspective we don’t get to hear too often: an African woman. I thoroughly enjoyed it – but with a lot of short books, I wanted to read more of Adichie’s experiences, as an African woman and writer.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4) by J.K Rowling

I’m enjoying the Harry Potter journey, noticing things I had missed or forgotten from the first time I read the series. Although I have to admit, despite being a good novel – I think it is still my least favorite installment in the series. Which I believe is because of the format – I don’t really care about the Triwizard Tournament (probably because I don’t care about things like the Olympics or the Rugby World Cup). Also – plot points that weren’t in the movie (SPEW and some Rita Skeeter things) felt a little bit too overcrowded, but I still enjoyed what was added to the worldbuilding.

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

I think I’ve found a new favorite author. I love Maugham’s warm, beautiful prose and how he makes somewhat unlikable characters sympathetic. The Painted Veil, a story about a woman who cheats on her husband and then is subsequently taken to the middle of a cholera outbreak in mainland China (sort of as revenge) is such an emotional, yet poetic journey. I saw the movie first, which I loved and I’m kind of glad I read the book afterwards as they take completely different turns half way through the story. Both endings are bittersweet, yet I don’t know which is the better one. They were both wonderful and I cannot wait to read more of Maugham’s work.

Up at the Villa by W.Somerset Maugham

Another Maugham novel, yes. But after struggling through the new Guy Gavriel Kay novel (which I’ve dropped for now) – I thought Maugham would do the trick. And he did. Up at the Villa is like The Painted Veil, set in the 1920s, however this time the story revolves around a widow living in Florence. Her dear old friend proposes to her, she tells him “mate, give me a couple days to think, eh?” (Said a lot more eloquently than that). He goes away and of course she gets in a big pickle surrounding the pleasures of life. I think this would be an interesting novel to study in regards to gender issues and sexuality – and although I didn’t particularly agree with what happened in the end, I enjoyed the characters and how they dealt with the situation. It was a fun, short book and a nice respite from the heavy book I had been reading.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

The last thing I read in May was a short story – because I like Okorafor and wanted to read some of the Hugo nominees. Again, like a lot of Okorafor’s work, I loved reading the perspective from an African woman. I liked how she dealt with race issues throughout the context of the story, and also how that relates to aliens. It’s basically a story about a young woman, the first of her people to travel space to a prestigious university. Of course along the way she comes across a race of aliens bent on hurting the human race for hurting them, and it’s with her own experience of alienation and culture that she is able to create friendly ties between her and these aliens. I enjoyed the short story – but again as with a lot of short stories – I always want more of the world and the characters! Sigh, sadly short stories and poetry are not my forte.

Favorite book of the month: The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

So what was your favorite book in May?

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