April Summary and Plans for May

April has been a month of two halves for me. I read some amazing books (including two five star reads that I’ll tell you about soon), but I also abandoned a greater number than usual. I think the outstanding books helped to make everything else seem poor in comparison. The number of abandoned books also accounts for the low number of reviews this month. Hopefully I’ll complete more books in May.

Book of the Month

At the beginning of the month I gave Honour by Elif Shafak 4.5 stars. I loved reading it, but I have to admit that it hasn’t had the lasting impact I expected it to. For this reason Magda becomes my book of the month. It isn’t a happy read, but I loved its power and encourage you to try it if you like darker reads.


Reviews posted in April:

Magda by Meike Ziervogel 

Honour by Elif Shafak 

The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea by Randolph Stow 

Soufflé by Asli Perker 

Moondust by Andrew Smith 

First Novel by Nicholas Royle 

Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver 

DNF: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight by Gina Ochsner, Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel, Marks of Identity by Juan Goytisolo, The People of Forever are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu, How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti and The Innocents by Francesca Segal

Plans for May

I’m in the unusual position of having no plans for May. I plan to read randomly from my shelves, but the books calling to me at the moment include:

The Uninvited by Liz Jensen
The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon
The Son by Michel Rostain
Encounter with Tiber by Buzz Aldrin
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
The Dinner by Herman Koch

I hope you have a great month!

16 replies on “April Summary and Plans for May”

Interesting to see how many of the Women’s Prize longlist you abandoned – I’m just impressed that you tried them all! Several of them didn’t appeal to me so I didn’t even bother, though I do like all the shortlisted books (probably the first prize shortlist in years I’ve been able to say that about).

I had a pretty mixed month too, and ended up reading less that normal as I wasted the first six or seven days slogging my way through Michelle de Kretser’s ‘Questions of Travel’ before eventually giving up about halfway through (the first book I’ve abandoned in about 18 months!). Very off-putting prose style, characters who never seemed more than names, and an endless series of (not very original) musings on travel in place of a story. It has been shortlisted for both the Stella Prize and the Miles Franklin so clearly I missed something, but I just couldn’t take another 250 pages of it.

I did read a few very good novels in April though: ‘May We Be Forgiven’ and ‘First Novel’, but also Aminatta Forna’s ‘The Hired Man’ which I reckon is her best novel yet, and Jonathan Buckley’s ‘Nostalgia’ which I found a really rewarding and enjoyable (if unusual) read – nothing very much happens in it plot-wise and it has endless digressions on architecture and wildlife and history: it’s a real cabinet-of-curiosities of a novel.

Jessie Cole’s ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ (an Australian novel) was good too and quite gripping, though nothing particularly special.

Years ago I read J.L. Carr’s ‘A Month in the Country’ and have been meaning to read more by him ever since – this month I finally tried his first novel, ‘A Day in Summer’ (written in 1963) and I have to say I was disappointed: some of his observations of life in a small country town are good and there is a decent plot, but it doesn’t seem to know if it wants to be a farce or a thriller, and it really hasn’t aged well.

I also read two excellent collections of short stories and two pretty mediocre ones.

I’ve no particular plans for May though I do want to read ‘Americanah’ at some point and also Meg Wolitzer’s ‘The Interestings’.

David, It is interesting to hear that you had a mixed month too. Michelle de Kretser has been on my radar for a while, but your comments have certainly pushed it down the pile. I wan’t a fan of ‘A Month in the Country’ so I wasn’t planning to try any of his other books. It sounds as though I made the right choice!

‘A Hired Man’ is a book I’ll probably read at some point. I enjoyed her last book, but it was slow going so I’ll have to be in the right mood for it.

I hope you have a good May – ‘Americanah’ and ‘The Interestings’ will probably creep onto my pile sometime this year. I hope you enjoy them!

I hope you enjoy A Tale for the Time Being, I really liked it, took a nice, slow time reading it and just enjoying it. I also liked The Dinner. Hope you have a lovely May!

Shan, I started reading ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ last week and am loving it so far. It is a slow read and I might not finish it this month, but I am loving the journey. I hope I enjoy The Dinner too. Have a great month!

Kim, I’m 3/4 of the way through it at the moment and think it is outstanding. It is long, but so worth it. Hopefully I’ll be able to persuade you to give it a try. 🙂

Yay, good to see The Uninvited and The Diner on your (possible) list for next month. Both were books that I loved. I’m really curious about the Ozeki book so if you could read that too, please?

Hope you have a good reading month with few DNFs.

Judith, It is great to hear that you loved The Dinner and The Uninvited. I hope I can squeeze them both into the next week or two. I started reading the Ozeki and am loving it so far. Hopefully it continues to be as good as the beginning. I’ll let you know!

It’ll be interesting to see how your May goes without plans, how different it is. I find the same – when you’ve read some fantastic books, any that don’t measure up seem a lot worse than they really are. I guess our expectations are heightened unconsciously.

Charlie, I like reading amazing books as it encourages me to ditch the average ones sooner and I end up finding more great books in sequence. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to keep it up in May 🙂

I was attracted to your blog by the comments on some novels I too have read recently. I thought Magda was an excellent novella, innovative in its structure and difficult in its subject matter and treatment of it.
I dont agree with your comments about Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour, not finding the ecoological stuff heavy handed. She has an tracjk record in close observation of natural phenomena, in organic relationships, especially in her earliest books.
Honour was another book I read recently and here I am in agreement with you, not a longlasting impact. I wondered whether there might not be too many characters in the novel, too many voices and timeshifts.
I am currently reading NW. it ismaking me very tense!
Thanks for your comments. Always interesting to read other people’s views.

Caroline, Well two out of three is quite a good match 😉 It is great to hear that you loved Magda as much as I did – I agree – such a tricky subject to pull off. Such a talented lady! Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time! I hope you’ll pop back again sometime.

Good to hear you liked ‘Magda’ 🙂

I’ve read a lot of reviews praising ‘Honour’, but I have to admit that I’ve been more influenced by the few that haven’t really thought much of it…

Tony, I think you might to right to avoid Honour as I don’t think it is your type of book. Far too plot based and probably more for women. Who knows though – your taste is still a bit of a mystery to me!

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