September Reading Wrap Up

This year is just flying by, so much so that I can barely keep up, but nevertheless there is always time for reading. September was very good in terms of the quality of books that I read, because out of the three that I did read I’m certain that two of them are going to make my list for top ten books of this year.

The first book that I read was Circe by Madeline Miller, and I’m still reeling from how good that book was. The Song of Achilles is one of my all-time favourite books, so much so that I included it within my dissertation, which of course meant that I couldn’t wait to read Circe. Thanks to my job and brilliant colleagues, I managed to get a proof of Circe which doesn’t get released until 2018. Miller has definitely earned her spot as one of my all-time favourite authors, and I can’t help but pray that she continues to write her beautiful stories. Circe is a tale of love, family, friendship, and the lack of all three. It demonstrates the power of words and will, the importance of independence and self-worth, and the threads that tie the present day to the classics. Miller has managed once more to take a well known tale and reword it, forging a new legend without denying the old.

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And clearly that wasn’t enough Classics for me, as I followed that up by reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt. If you haven’t already seen it, I wrote a full review for it a couple days ago (which you can find here). Overall, it was yet another fantastically written book by a brilliant author, one that I hope to read more of soon.

Which brings me to the final book that I read – or rather, finished reading – this month which was The Feminine Mystique by Better Friedan. This was a non-fiction pick for the Feminist Book Club that I am a part of, and whilst I think it is important and very good for what it is, I did struggle with keeping up my enthusiasm for reading it, especially with the sections that are extremely dated. Certain comments made on gender and homosexuality meant that I was put off by a book that played a huge part in female empowerment, especially in the workplace and outside the home, which definitely affected my reading of it.

And that concludes my very short update on my reading for last month. I’ve got some exciting things lined up for October, and I’m already well into an extremely good book, so I can’t wait to see where it takes me. In terms of challenges, Betty Friedan ticked off the ‘feminist book cover to cover’, and Circe ticked off ‘a blue cover’. I decided to use The Secret History once again for ‘a friend’s favourite book’ as this was a book that literally everyone had recommended to me and said that they’d love.

  1. ***4 ‘Classics’
  2. *A Man Booker nominee
  3. **A Baileys nominee
  4. **A Feminist Book cover to cover
  5. ***‘A Blue Cover’
  6. *A Graphic Novel
  7. A Horror Book
  8. ***Finish a series you’ve started
  9. ***A friend’s favourite book
  10. **Poetry book
  11. *Book over 500 pages
  12. *Book under 150 pages
  13. Book with a character with your name
  14. *An autobiography
  15. **A play
  16. ***A book from your TBR
  17. *******Book published in 2017
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The Secret History by Donna Tartt

It really goes to show that sometimes when your friends recommend you something, it ends up being one of the best things you’ve read in a long while – and also helps to increase your trust in your friends’ tastes. The Secret History by Donna Tartt is one of those books for me, as almost everyone at work – and a few outside of work – have told me for ages that I would adore it. Every time I mentioned that I hadn’t read it, I would receive a gasp from my audience which would be immediately followed by something along the lines of ‘But you have to read it, you’re going to love it’. They were right.

*This is a spoiler free review*

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Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.

This book is narrated by Richard, a young man from California who moves to a university/college to study Classics (and this is where I do a mini dance for the glory of study Classics, but a word of warning: if you study Classics you will not do what these students do. Or at least I bloody well hope not). On arrival at his new college, he discovers that there is an elite group of students who study with one particular teacher, who is known for refusing to take on anyone else. When Richard manages to be accepted into the fold, he discovers that there are many secrets within this group, ones that he is desperate to discover.

What is immediately enticing about this book is that it does not start with Richard moving to this new school. No, instead this book starts with the murder of one of these students, a young man nicknamed Bunny, at the hands of his classmates. Now before you start declaring me as your spoiler enemy, relax – this is said on the blurb and on the opening page. You go into this book knowing that somehow, and for some reason, Richard and these other elite students decide to murder Bunny. You only get a few pages in this opening before it jumps back to when Richard joins the college, and he narrates from some distant time that you’re not exactly aware of. I worried that I would grow bored of a book knowing this climax, but I was entirely wrong. There are so many other events that take place, and experiencing a book knowing that one of the main characters will be murdered is unlike any other. You’re constantly trying to connect the dots to various secrets and see how they all add up, and you’re questioning every tiny detail. I was desperate to keep reading only so I could find out what was going on, and once you know the secrets it feels like you as a reader are included in this elitist group.

I enjoyed the Classics references for obvious reasons, and all I can say is that after reading several books recently that made me feel slightly stupid for not getting the references (looking at you Chris Kraus), I was overjoyed to understand the finer details of this book. You grow to love these strange characters, and equally fall out of love with them. Tartt’s writing is beautiful and elegant, her sentences almost like poetry at times with the lyrical, whimsical nature. Storytelling at its finest, and it has to be when you know about Bunny’s murder from the get-go.

Overall, this book was an easy five stars for me. I’d recommend it to everyone, especially classics lovers, as it blends literary fiction with murder mystery with thriller. Just brilliant.