Now that the nights are drawing in, I find myself wanting to curl up with a good book more and more. My bookshelves are stacked high but I keep finding new books to add to my list, must-reads that must wait for now. I've already planned a reading spree for the Christmas break and am eagerly adding titles to my Goodreads list in anticipation. There are so many books published every week that it feels like I might never get to the end, but as of yet there are very few books I've not enjoyed (and most of those were read at school) so it seems like a perfect way to spend my life, trying to get to the end of that list.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
I will admit to not enjoying this classic love story the first time I read it; a case of an English degree spoiling reading for me. However, I am glad I read it that first time - albeit very rushed, without taking it in - because it meant that this time I could read it slowly, absorb it better. It's a long book, and there are some slow passages that felt superfluous but overall I found myself finally falling in love with this book just as so many others have done before me. Although the characters can be infuriating at time (why so mean, Mr Rochester?) they feel incredibly real and the slow burn of the story just makes the ending all the more delicious. I appreciated this book a lot more this time around, both for itself and for its position in our literary history and it makes me want to go back and read some of the other books that I dismissed during my schooling (particularly Jane Austen...). It's a gorgeous autumnal read, with plenty of brooding skies and dark moments - stick with it, it will be worth it.
Tampa by Alissa Nutting
I love a controversial book, and when I read some reviews of this one, which tells the tale of a female teacher who seduces her students, I was intrigued. So many were dismissive of it and I wanted to find out more. I tore through this book, it's incredibly easy to read (although, to warn you, it's also *incredibly* graphic) and I did enjoy some of the questions it poses. It made me question some of my own assumptions, which I think is exactly what it's designed to do. That being said, I actually didn't think all that much of it overall - whilst the main character is designed to be completely unlikeable, which I don't mind in a book, she also felt unrealistic - as did the students who she seduces. I couldn't help but compare it to Lolita - the similarity in theme makes it almost impossible not to - which for me is a much more nuanced look at a taboo topic, with much more complex characters (not to mention, the most beautiful prose I think I've ever read). I'd love to know what you thought of this book if you've read it - it's definitely stuck with me.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
I could talk about this book for hours on end; I have read it so many times now that I feel like I know it inside-out whilst knowing that there is still more depth than I can get at right now. Every time I read it, I cry; it's incredibly moving and beautiful and it touches on so many issues and ideas that it would be impossible for me to do it justice. I take something new away from it each time, and I recommend it to everyone I know - if you've not read it, you definitely should.
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
There's so much I could say about Lena Dunham's book that it deserves a separate blog post (which it still might get) but it's safe to say that like so many other twenty-something women out there, I have devoured her words and felt comforted by her honesty and forthright attitude. She covers off a lot of topics in this book, and at times it feels a bit jumbled - the timeline isn't clear and it bucks traditional narrative structure - but the raw emotions and the story she is trying to tell is clear. It prompted me to do a lot of thinking about my own life, and also about the lives of my friends and family (hence why another blog post is probably needed...) but it also made me laugh at loud at points. It's worth reading, if only so you can discuss it when the topic inevitably comes up, but also to absorb some of Lena's unique perspective. I know there's more to come from her, and I'm excited to see it.