My Month in Reading: August 2017

Not sure if this is a new series on my blog or if I’m just going to do it whenever I fancy, but by the grace of all that’s good, I managed to read significantly more in the last month than I have in the last seven years of my life. Uni and just general laziness have kept me from enjoying books for a long time — so much so, I honestly thought that a love of reading had been completely snuffed out. Thankfully, that was a massive oversight.

Starting with finishing the novelisation of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story at the end of July, I quickly moved onto attempting shorter books in order to get back into the swing of things. At least, except for Six of Crows, which was admittedly the reason for starting reading proper again. It was then surprisingly easy to immerse myself in other random books I had. Then Call Me By Your Name happened and changed my damn life so much, reading became an insatiable activity. Whether it’s a fluke or a sustainable streak will be left up to fate as someone like me is only capable of focusing on something in spurts. However, what I’m going to do is list several books I’ve read in the last month that I 100% recommend.

Call Me By Your Name (Andre Aciman)

Like I said, this book changed my life. It had me quite literally from the word go — the book is so lyrically woven together with such gorgeous prose that it is gripping from the very first page. It’s the definition of un-put-downable, but also you want to savour it for as long as possible. Call Me By Your Name is all about memory — how Elio remembers that fateful summer when he met Oliver and a whirlwind romance ensued — and it is about coming to terms with growing up and living during such a precarious point in one’s life (discovering oneself and figuring out identity). Along with sexuality, racial identity politics are layered into the mix by sheer virtue of place and historicism, adding richness and depth to a narrative already bursting with life and vibrance. There’ll be a film adaptation soon, starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet, that already looks amazing. It’s become one of my very favourite books.

The Raven Cycle (Maggie Stiefvater)

This series — centring around four friends chasing magic and ley lines and ancient kings — comprises some of the most surprisingly enchanting books I’ve ever read. It took me a good two years to pick up The Raven Boys again after not being compelled to finish it in 2014 or whatever, but once I pushed through the typical YA-ness (and learnt to love it for what it is), I was definitely rewarded with some epic follow-ups. My favourites in the series are The Dream Thieves and Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Both books of those books, in particular, are strongest narrative-wise and writing-wise (subverting known tired tropes and sporting fresh, animated dialogue), but over all the characterisation in the entire series is what makes me stay. What’s special about Blue Sargent, Richard Gansey, Ronan Lynch and Adam Parrish — and most of their surrounding friends and family — is their capacity to love each other wholeheartedly, warts and all. The Raven Cycle is unexpectedly heartwarming and I so very much wish I could’ve given it a chance when I was younger as well.

Six of Crows (Leigh Bardugo)

A huge highlight of the month was getting to read a fantasy heist as thrilling and rewarding as this book. (I’ll talk about the follow-up book, Crooked Kingdom, at the end of September.) I’d heard mixed things about the preceding Grisha trilogy and wasn’t sure if I could get into this book before reading them, so I put that off. And fair enough, you have to suspend a bit of belief to understand the dynamics of the brand new world Bardugo throws you into headfirst. But it’s so unrelentingly good; viciously funny. To sum up my love for all the characters: I love everyone in this bar. Of course, I’ll play favourites — Inej Ghafa and Nina Zenik are absolute gems as characters, but that doesn’t mean the men in the story don’t hold their own. I’ve never met a protagonist quite like Kaz Brekker. Or maybe I have, as antiheroes are common nowadays. But none as easy to sympathise with or as easy to hate as Kaz, and Bardugo walks that fine line between his trauma and his survival instincts so expertly. It’s more of an adventure book but it doesn’t scrimp on relationships (and lack thereof) and weaves backstory into its narrative so seamlessly. Six of Crows is genuinely so easy to read yet retains its wit — it’ll have hearts thumping out of chests, eliciting gasps and roars of laughter.

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