It is with a real mix of emotions that today I finished my degree as I come to the end of one really intense month of hard work and the end of four years of sheer joy. Given the intensity of the last three weeks in particular I haven’t had time to blog – something I expect I will have a lot more time to do over the next few weeks. But I have still been reading!
During deadline and exam periods I’m always surprised to find that reading is actually something I do more of. I find reading the odd chapter of a novel or blasting through a non-fiction book totally different from anything I’m studying is a great way of blowing off steam in between revising vocabulary and proof reading essays. So here are my, potentially final, revision reads:
The Cossacks and Other Stories – Leo Tolstoy
It’s no news to this blog that I’m a big fan of Tolstoy. I asked for this book for Christmas in the hopes of being able to get more Tolstoy in a shorter burst compared to Anna Karenina and War and Peace. For short stories, they’re still pretty damn long… damn it Tolstoy. Regardless, I really enjoyed them, and I love how Tolstoy manages to make the most mundane of things incredibly profound and poetic:
“No, the hero of my story, whom I love with all my heart and soul, whom I have attempted to portray in all his beauty and who has always been, is now and will always be supremely magnificent, is truth” – Sevastopol in May.
GIRL UP – Laura Bates
While I haven’t read Everyday Sexism I have been a big fan of Laura Bates ever since I got Twitter and discovered the Everyday Sexism Project. Much like Doing It, I feel like I didn’t learn a whole lot new but the ideas in these books are incredibly valuable for teenagers and those involved in their lives. Honestly, it’s the kind of book I read and I think ‘my dad should read this’… more to come on that particular idea in a future blog. 10/10 for pictures of dancing vaginas – if I wasn’t going to pass the book on I would definitely cut several pages out as post cards.
Les Années – Annie Ernaux
I studied Cleaned Out in my first year and absolutely loved it. Why it took me so long to read another Ernaux book, and in French this time, I do not know. It’s such a cool and unique book. It’s often described as an impersonal autobiography and that’s exactly what it is. It became quite a nostalgic read for me, as many of the political, social and cultural events that Ernaux comments on throughout Les Années are subjects I’ve studied in French modules at Swansea – we’ve come full circle, eh?
Americanah – Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie
Without a doubt the most I have enjoyed a novel in a while. Americanah accompanied me through the last five days of intense revision and it totally transported me away from adjectival agreement and the passé simple tense. In the novel protagonist Ifemelu asks ‘why did people ask “What is it about?” as if a novel had to be about only one thing.’ It is the perfect way to respond to someone asking what Americanah is about – it covers so much in such a wonderful way. Despite the title the novel transcends location as it explores identity, race, gender, academia, social media and immigration in America, Nigeria and the UK, while maintaining a complex and meandering story of love and sex. Released in just 2014, it’s depressing how ironic the hope of Obama’s election in the novel feels now, reading from the reign of Trump, and it does give me pretty big blog success envy, but truth be told, Americanah was such a treat to read.
Expect more blogs from me now I’m done revising, book recommendations for an unemployed graduate are greatly appreciated. I have also now finished my time as Deputy Editor and as a writer at Waterfront newspaper, which means this ‘fiction’ blog may soon have to become the platform for me to write on other topics, i.e. current affairs and feminism. A new section called Non-Fictitiously Hilary, perhaps? Thoughts?