The Reading List #42

It's been a while, but here we are with a fresh reading list post!

I can’t believe this is Reading List #42 – there are so many mini-reviews up on here now. The latest four reviews cover fiction and non-fiction, and each of them really impressed me.

Elephant Song, Wilbur Smith

In Chiwewe National Park, Zimbabwe, TV naturalist Dr Daniel Armstrong films the slaughter of an elephant herd. In London, anthropologist Kelly Kinnear is caught up in confrontation with a powerful conglomerate warning them of imminent danger in Zimbabwe. Armstrong and Kinnear form an alliance in an attempt to fight greed and corruption.

This was beautiful. The characters’ passion for the land and the cause was clear, and the way both the beauty and the terror of the country are described in juxtaposition with one another is fantastic. I found myself totally immersed in their world, and the plot itself was fast-paced.

Stop Thinking, Start Living, Richard Carlson

This was recommended to me by my GP when I very fist spoke to him about my anxiety, as he knew I love to read, and find reading a really helpful way to process things. It’s packed with case studies, very simple, and speaks directly to you, the reader.  Carlson discusses life as being like a pendulum, and all thoughts affect your feelings. Once you realise your thoughts are what are sustaining your low mood, or whatever mood it is you’re experiencing, the thought is that it will become easier to find balance. Something that resonated with me was that for healthy psychological functioning it helps to realise that happiness is our default state. It’s a constant part of you, which has been covered up by negative, habitual thoughts you take seriously. Low moods can always happen, but they don’t last forever. This was a short book, and didn’t give me all the answers as anxiety and psychology in general are so complex and multi-faceted, but it gave me a boost, and was an uplifting read whilst waiting for my next appointment.

Beloved, Toni Morrison

In Kentucky, in the mid-1800s, slavery has come under attack. Sethe lost Beloved in violence and has returned to the scene for retribution.

I had been told to read this novel so many times, and when I finally did I could see why it gets spoken about with such awe. The horror of the context and of the scenes of infanticide is blended with the beauty of myth, and the transient nature of time. This is brilliantly crafted and one I think I will return to.

Butterfly, Sonya Hartnett

Fourteen year-old Plum is awkward and angry, and hates what she sees in the mirror. When she meets her sophisticated neighbour, she begins to change, but her family still won’t treat her any differently. Plum’s relationship with her new mentor then has unexpected consequences.

Hartnett totally gets inside the head of a confused fourteen year-old, here. It’s s coming of age tale that flows well, and I read in one sitting. I wasn’t too sure about certain elements of the plot, but overall the tone was spot on.

Any ideas what  should move onto next?


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