Friday, 8 January 2016

The Reading List #32

It's been a while, but the reading itself certainly hasn't stopped! Here's my latest round-up of mini-reviews...

Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden


This tells the story of Sayuri, thrown into the geisha world where, as a young girl, she is naïve and manipulated, until she rebels. There were several strong themes throughout the novels, such as love, and loss, when she is torn from her family, and also the empowerment of women originally forced into an oppressive situation. The book had been on my to-read list for years after multiple recommendations, and offers a fascinating insight into the geisha world, a culture I know next to nothing about. The fantastic characterisation meant that as a reader I fully believed every word. Golden skilfully pulls readers into a world they may be unfamiliar with, but at once it feels familiar. The book is peppered with tragedy but inspires so much hope, and is definitely one I would recommend.


Mindfulness for Life: How to Use Mindfulness Meditation to Improve Your Life, Craig Hassed and Stephen McKenzie


One annoying trait of this book was the repetitive use of the phrase ’one of the authors was…’ when providing anecdotes or examples. In general, the tone was a little too ‘high-brow’, or attempting to be. To be fair, the book does follow more of a textbook-style format, providing the ‘why’ much more than the ‘how’. The concept of mindfulness is explained well, and there are then individual chapters in issues such as depression, eating disorders, sleep problems and pain control. It took a very systematic approach, and is certainly interesting, but as a reader I didn’t connect with it. As someone who struggles with a fair few of the ‘problems’ discussed in this book, I had been hoping for more practical tips of how I could incorporate mindfulness to help. Instead, it’s more of an explanatory piece on why it’s worth considering. There’s a place for this book, I just don’t think it was necessarily appropriate for the purpose I needed it for at the time of reading.


Capital, John Lancaster


On Pepys Road, a street where the home are now worth millions following the financial crash, every resident receives a postcard reading ‘we want what you have’. As a reader, we step behind the closed doors of each home, including into the lives of a Senegalese football star, a stressed banker, the family who run the corner shop, and an elderly woman facing the end of her life. The novel is well-written with fantastic characterisation, despite having such a varied cast of characters, and I found it so interesting how every individual interpreted the potential meaning of the card – what was it their perceived to be of most value? I wasn’t entirely convinced on the final conclusions of the story, but it’s worth reading for the concept alone.


The Saint Zita Society, Ruth Rendell


A millionaire banker kills his wife’s lover by pushing him down the stairs, and begs the au pair to help him dispose of the body. She is a member of the Saint Zita Society, a groups of nannies, drivers, gardeners and those with similar professions, who have unexplained plans. This was a crime novel with an interesting premise, but for some reason I just wasn’t entirely gripped. I struggled to relax into Rendell’s writing style, but there’s a potentially good storyline for those who enjoy her style of narrative.


Have you read any of these? And what do I need to move onto next?









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