3 books, 3 points returns! After a break, book reviews are finally back. Which is great because it means lots more reading time! Over the last few months I have read many books, but I thought I’d just dive back in with the books I’ve devoured this month.
I’m wondering too, for the avid readers amongst you, how do you keep track of the books you’ve read? I am contemplating either beginning a bullet journal, or a book diary so I can remember what I thought of all of the books I’ve read. Do you have a system at all? I’d love any recommendations…
This month I’ve enjoyed attacking my ‘to-be-read’ pile with a vengeance! Here are three of the books I’ve enjoyed this month:
There Are Other Rivers: On Foot Across India, by Alastair Humphreys
– A book small in size but packed with wonderfully evocative images conjured by Humphreys as he describes a typical day in his trek across India as he follows the course of a holy river. I have read other books by Humphreys (Moods of Future Joys, Thunder and Sunshine) and am a huge fan of how he is able to combine the physical aspects and mental, even spiritual facets so that they leap off the page to envelop you, making you feel as if you’re on the journey alongside him.
– The picture of the people, the reason and the country of India built up in my mind as I read through the book. Less of a chronological description and more of a frank, honest account of the mental and physical challenges on a long journey.
– This is a perfect rainy day book. Small enough to be read in one go (preferably in a comfy chair with a brew; or alternatively tucked in your backpack on an adventure!) but full of enough content to have you dreaming and planning your own adventures.
Vindolanda, by Adrian Goldsworthy
– The story centres on the experiences of Flavius Ferox, centurion at the army post of Vindolanda in the North of Britainnia. Ferox, a Briton by birth, has pledged allegiance to Rome and serves in the army. We learn of his past career, although this is done in a subtle way, without making a fanfare of his past accomplishments, and seems more believable for it. Goldsworthy is an expert on Roman warfare, having previously published numerous non-fiction books on the subject, and Vindolanda is rich in detail without being obvious or gratuitous.
– I learnt a great deal from this book, particularly in battle scenes, where Goldworthy’s description of formations, tactics and individual experiences really shines. Having said this, I didn’t feel like I was ‘learning’ – the book was engrossing, and it was only once I’d finished a section or chapter that I realised how much detail I’d absorbed. The storyline isn’t far-fetched, with a few characters being based on real people, although Goldsworthy acknowledges that many of their personalities are pure fiction as the record is thin. He has written them as believably as possible, and this fact means the story as a whole reads very smoothly.
– As a fiction book covering a topic I knew little about, I really enjoyed Vindolanda. I’ve found myself researching about the area and planning a visit to learn more! I found it to be a book that I couldn’t put down – and in the days following I realised just how much I’d enjoyed the characters, the humour and the detail. Ferox is a likeable protagonist for all his flaws, and the camaraderie
between him and other soldiers had me rooting for him throughout the book. Thoroughly enjoyable.
There are two further books in the Vindolanda series planned – The Encircling Sea, due out in November this year, and a third, Brigantia, due June 2019.
The Power, by Naomi Alderman
– The Power is a strong, powerful story. Women worldwide are discovering that they have a shocking power – the ability to cause pain just by using their fingers. The book describes the events that occurred following on from the discovery, through the eyes of women from different backgrounds with different goals. A layered look at what would happen if the tables were turned, and a narrative of power structure in today’s society, The Power stayed with me long after I’d finished.
– The Power isn’t a comfortable book, and challenged me to think of the issues brought up in the context of our society today – gender inequality is still a problem, however part of the appeal of the book is the way the story twists and turns. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I didn’t find it an easy read, although this didn’t make it any less enjoyable. In fact, the questions the storyline brings up made Alderman’s story stick in my consciousness, mulling it over and over.
– Overall, The Power evoked a sort of anger within me, that we needed to envisage such a future in such a literally shocking way, and that inequality is still a dominant issue in society. The premise of the book is still of a dominant gender, however, and questions remain as to whether as a species, we are inevitably doomed to inequality as genders battle for superiority, as long as there is seen to be a need for power over another. Is that power necessary? Are there benefits to having control over others? Many questions still circling around my mind after reading this. I feel that the more I read this book, the more questions I’ll have, but a deeper understanding of the issues at stake. One for the re-read pile, for sure.
I loved all of these books! If you’ve read any of them, please let me now what you thought. Also, book recommendations are always welcome!