Recent Reads #8
I know it's only been a week and a half since my last Recent Reads post, but I'm back with 4 super quick reads. Hope you enjoy!
The Power by Naomi Alderman
The premise of this book is really interesting. It imagines a world where women develop this power of electricity within their bodies that enable them to harm or even kill others through the touch of their fingertips. It reminded me a lot of the Handmaid's Tale in the way gender dynamics played out and so I wasn't surprised to see that Margaret Atwood was actually Naomi's mentor. (Side note: how cool is that? Having Margaret Atwood as your mentor??) The book is told in the third person and follows the story of four main characters, three females and a male, for a period of about 10 years. This story is a novel within the book itself meaning that the book starts off by two people exchanging emails with one asking the other to have a look at his manuscript. These emails close out the book too and the last line of the last email just sums up the book so perfectly. What I found more interesting than the story of gender though was on the concept of power itself and this book raises a lot of interesting questions about power such as it's link with physical strength and whether power can ever be benevolent or not. I loved the idea behind this book but didn't really love the execution as I felt that the narratives were a little forced and unnatural.
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
I am constantly amazed at how eloquently and creatively people can write, especially when that person is someone who's around my age or younger. This book is a collection of short stories and essays by Marina Keegan who graduated from Yale studying English as an undergraduate. I think I enjoyed her short stories more than the essays, primarily because it really showcased her talent in writing from different perspectives and dealing with real-life situations. Each story is very powerful and I felt a strong connection with the characters straight away. I felt that there was an element of sadness in each of these stories and one of the most poignant lines she wrote was "we're so young ... we have so much time" and as she so tragically died in a car crash just a few days after graduation, those lines felt so devastating.
Inside Vogue by Alexandra Shulman
I really enjoyed this book. For a while I thought about doing something in the editorial department of a fashion magazine so did a few work experiences and internships in this field and so it was really interesting to read this diary. As Alexandra Shulman has left Vogue (#vrexit), reading this book at this time felt particularly more relevant. The book is a diary that she kept for a year during the 100th year of Vogue UK, a year that dealt with a documentary series on Vogue, producing the 100th issue of Vogue, organising the Vogue Gala and the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, and much more. I loved that this book portrayed something real as opposed to something glamorous as people think a life in the fashion industry might be and that the diary was so human. The diary was a perfect mix of fashion, her personal life, and life in Britain too. For me, the little parts where she talks about her flat and her yoga classes were my favourite.
The Lonely City by Olivia Laing
I knew I would love this book. As someone who spends a lot of time by herself (not that I'm a total loner but I am comfortable being by myself and love having some alone time), the concept of loneliness was something that gripped me from the beginning. Yet, upon reflection, I realised that people can still be lonely even if they are surrounded by people and doing things. It's such a beautifully written book interweaving her own personal experiences moving to New York and getting heartbroken with other artists' experiences in dealing with loneliness. I spent a couple months at uni in Pittsburgh when I was 19 (wow that seems like it was so long ago) and being in a place where I'd never been before to adjust to being with people I didn't know well definitely made me feel a little bit lonely. I remember spending days at museums and galleries nearby which is why one of the artist's experiences that Olivia Liang deals with (Andy Warhol's) particularly resonated with me. She actually ends up going to Pittsburgh to carry out research on Warhol's Time Capsules and so from the beginning to the end of the book, I felt like I was exploring the topic of loneliness with her.
So that's it for this Recent Reads post! If you have any book recommendations, please leave them below so I can check them out! My to-read list can never get too long...