FINALLY I have gotten back into reading. I am so determined to keep up the pace with this and not fall back into the all to easy habit of just looking at my phone endlessly into the evening, moving from screen to screen until my eyes almost burn!! It took a two week holiday to get me back into the habit of having my nose in a book, and I have kept it up really well since. Reading on every flight, every tube journey, and every night before bed! Thankfully, I have a string of amazing books to recommend here. 

 

Between The World And Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates

 

This short book is a letter Coates is writing to his teenage son. It follows his own life, from childhood, through university, and into adulthood. The overarching lesson being within what he has learnt from living as black man. The premise of which being that black bodies can be ‘stolen’, and the knowledge and understanding of this has defined his life in different ways. I loved this book. It was fascinating, the way Coates discusses race and his experiences with it was brilliantly done. Easy to read while being very hard hitting in places, it’s a book I think would be necessary to revisit and see what could be taken from it from a second read. 

 

Slouching Towards Bethlehem - Joan Didion 

 

Another book I loved. Composed of some of Didion’s articles, this is first step into the world of her work I have taken. Some stories I didn’t enjoy as much as others within this, but the ones that stood out were the sort where you needed to stop and think after every line, because every sentence feels so important. “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”, “On Keeping A Notebook”, “On Self Respect” and "Goodbye To All That” Were my favourites. I have since ordered her novel ??? And cannot wait to get stuck into that. 

 

Notes to Self - Emilie Pine 

 

I read this on holiday in about two days. Another short stories book (which I enjoy mostly when they’re not fictional stories), Pine reflects on significant moments of her life; her father’s struggle with alcoholism, her own struggles with getting pregnant, her rambunctious teenage years. It was a very hard read in places, but one I think will have a good place on anyones book shelf to hand to the people in your life at different points. I loved her style of writing, it felt punchy throughout and the each chapter drops you into the middle of the story she is telling you, before back-stepping slightly to build up the context. In that sense I found it quite conversational in some ways, the way you might tell a big story to someone new. I would highly recommend this, but make sure to read the overview because the heavy nature of the topics she discusses (and she doesn’t hold back) could be triggering for some. 

 

Call Me By Your Name - Andre Aciman 

 

I have been wanting to read this for so long. Like so many others, I was completely blown away by the film. The book is, as is often the case, even better. I loved having Elio’s monologue throughout - it added so much to the subtlety of the relationship, so much more to the tension. The book also has a different ending to the film, so it worth reading for that alone. 

 

Just Kids - Patty Smith 

 

Another one I loved!! Also a holiday read, and you don’t need to be a Patty Smith fan to enjoy this one. Also, if you are an Audiobook fan (I haven’t tried one yet), this one is actually read by Patty Smith herself so I think it would be amazing to listen too, I think I am going to reread it via Audiobook soon! Nothing has made me want to live in New York quite like reading this book. It is Smith sharing the story of her life (mostly up to the release of White Horses), but all through the lens of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. It isn’t a reflection of her climb to fame at all, and while it is autobiographical, it has a far more story telling feel to it that other autobiographies I have read. The ways she shares her story, her love for Maplethorpe, their enduring relationship, and the general company they kept - it was incredible!! The only downside is I found there was a lot of names to keep up with, hence the Audiobook might be a good option for me to revisit and keep up with the revolving door of people a little better. 

 

My Brilliant Friend - Elena Ferrante 

 

And finally, this gorgeous book. The first in a series of four, this story follows two girls in Naples and their friendship throughout their early lives. We read from the point of view of Elena, who navigates her own life alongside Lina. The friendship is written beautifully, the anxieties around growing up were so well captured, it conjured up so many of my own memories that I didn’t even know were still there! And finally, the way it captures Italy is stunning. I loved it and cannot wait to read the next one. 

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