Shelf Life – September 2014

It’s been a big month of reading diversity for me:

The Giver by Lois Lowry – I read this because the movie was coming out and I wanted to read the book first. As is the way of these things, after finishing and loving the book I wasn’t sure I wanted to see the movie at all because I so rarely love the book AND the movie (except you, Hunger Games, you’re awesome in all forms). But I did, and I did, and here’s my review.

Watching Brief by Julian Burnside – from YA fantasy, to civil rights non-fiction – that makes sense right? I have been meaning to read this book for so long, I’m a big Julian Burnside fan (if you can be a fan of a lawyer…) – his humanitarian take on refugees is bang on, and the book didn’t let me down. It’s a little out of date now, but the sentiment is still relevant.

11 Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLean – from human rights to saucy romance (a human right of a sort methinks). I must admit, I haven’t read that many romance novels in my time, but I’ve always harboured a bit of ill-will towards them because I felt like the female characters were these simpering fools who let men walk all over them. Which is why I freaking love Sarah MacLean. Her girls don’t take no shit from no one, but that doesn’t mean they are cold-hearted bitches. They are strong, intelligent, warm-hearted, feisty and just plain ass-kickingly awesome. If you are looking to read some romance, I would highly recommend MacLean’s books.

Homeland by Barbara Kingsolver – I didn’t actually realise this was a collection of short stories until I opened it up – it came as part of a Kingsolver omnibus that I got for $2 at the Lifeline Book fair, and I hadn’t even opened it before it’s little post-it note came out of the lucky dip. When I realised what it was, I got scared; ‘oh no, another collection of short stories that is going to leave me cold’. Well, I should have known that Babs would be the one to change my mind about short stories. She’s never let me down before (ok, maybe a little bit with Flight Behavior). These stories were fantastic – the characters were well-drawn and the stories complete so I didn’t feel cheated when they ended. The writing was neat and sharp, as only Babs can be.

A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel – the final book for me for September, and likely to leak into October, and maybe even November. It’s epic, but all kinds of wonderful. Mantel is just the master of making history enjoyable – I love the way she takes somewhat periphery, but always interesting, characters and takes you through well-known events from completely new perspectives. At the risk of gushing, I really love this woman. She has a supreme wit and is one of the few people who can keep me absolutely riveted for 800 pages. Just a small example of said wit is this line: “I know she’s rather plain, but every girl has a right to conceal that fact from people who haven’t seen her” – brilliant.

So, that’s been my September. What have you guys been reading?

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