Thursday 12 January 2012

December Reads

In a departure from my usual postings about beauty, I thought I would do a post about some of the books I have read over the past month. I adore reading and ever since I got my kindle a year ago, I have been devouring more and more books. I have quite a diverse reading taste, although I read mostly fiction with the odd smattering of non-fiction thrown in.

In December, I read a little less than I would normally, mainly as I was away visiting family for 2 weeks and the lead up to Christmas was manic as usual! I did make my way through 4 books though.
I first heard about this book on a show on BBC 2 about new writers and thought it sounded interesting. The story is told from 11 year old Harrison’s point of view, a few months after he arrives in an inner-city housing estate from Ghana, and begins with him seeing the aftermath of a stabbing on the estate which both he and a friend set about investigating. This forms the backbone of the story, but in essence, it is really about Harrison’s perceptions of the world around him, his family and British culture.

I raced through this book and rather enjoyed it, although it did take some time to get into the language and slang used by Harrison. However you cannot  help but feel for this boy who is just trying to fit in amongst his peers, and by the conclusion of the book, I felt quite sad that my time with him was coming to an end as I wanted to find out more about his family and background.
I picked this up on a whim from the kindle store after reading a review of it some time ago, although being slightly sceptical of its title as a 'feminist handbook' and a rewriting of Germaine Greer’s ‘The Female Eunuch‘. Caitlin Moran is a journalist, and I found this semi-autobiographical look at feminist views, along with all the fun aspects and annoying aspects of being a member of the ‘fairer’ sex very amusing. From chapters about what to call your breasts (!) to how to tell people to mind their own business when they ask when you are intending to have children, I found this book far more relevant to my life than I anticipate,d and very funny. So funny in fact that I actually was chuckling to myself on the bus whilst reading it and getting some rather strange looks! I would recommend this book to those of you who like an easy quick, amusing read, but with something to ponder on after reading it. It is unashamedly a book for women though. Men just would not get it!
This was a children’s book that I picked up as the Amazon Kindle Deal of the Day for 99p. I didn’t know anything about the book but thought it sounded interesting from the reviews on Amazon and it was cheaper than a magazine so I thought it was worth a go. I particularly enjoy books based around the time of the Second World War and this story is told from the viewpoint of Henry, a teenage boy who lives with his mother, stepfather and baby sister and is fascinated with the cinema, at a time when the cinema was becoming very popular in the aftermath of the War.  He meets a woman named Mrs Beaumont who instigates great changes in his life, and the life of his friends, and it is through her that a mystery surrounding the life of his father emerges.

For me, the greater interest in this book was around the time of the war and the background to attitudes of the time. Both of Harry’s friends are seen as outcasts - one is the son of a Deserter from the Army, whilst another is the son of an unmarried mother . It shows how prejudiced many people were in the 40s and 50s and how times have changed since. The core mystery of the book, although it is what drives along the plot, is easily guessable and I felt the resolution happened a little quickly and jarred with the rest of the story. It also wrapped up everything a little too neatly. This is a children’s book (the author also wrote Goodnight Mr Tom) and one which I feel addresses some interesting issues without sugar-coating them, and is worth a read if you find post-war fiction interesting.
Another non-fiction pick for this month. This is the true story of a young girl and her family who were forced to flee their home when Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 1975. Loung was trained as a child soldier while her brothers and sisters were sent to labour camps and the family were forced to separate.

I won’t lie, it is not an easy read, but it was a book that I think was important to read to understand how things could change so quickly within a country. As it is told from the viewpoint of a five-year old girl, it does not dwell on any political aspects of the horrific situation, however it does give you a view of someone who was initially unaware of what was happening around her, to that of gradual understanding as her family is torn apart. I particularly found this interesting as it felt very recent to me (not long before I was born) and therefore it seemed even more horrific that this could happen only 35 years ago.

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any recommendations of your own? I am always looking to discover new books and authors.



  1. This is great! I am doing a January reads. I love posts like this because it helps you find more books to read. I'm trying to read at least 3 a month (it was one of my NY resolutions) x

  2. p.s. I have added First they killed my father: A daughter of Cambodia remembers to my Amazon wish list x

  3. Sandra - Good resolution! I think you will find the book interesting. My Amazon wish list is always growing, a bit like my 'Beauty to Buy' list!

  4. I've wanted to read Caitlin Moran's books for ages now, so it's good to hear about it xx

  5. Beth - I would certainly recommend it for a quick entertaining read.