Finished Reading | June + July 2015

1 Aug 2015

A picture of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
As life has gotten a little hectic over the past few months and my priorities have been elsewhere, I've spent a lot less time reading and the rate I was going through books slowed right down! Whereas before I was getting through around 5 books a month, I've managed 3 books in the past two months. I decided not to share a 'Finished Reading' post at the end of June as I only managed to get through one book in June, so it seemed a little fruitless to write a post on just the one book - and if I'm honest, I was a little annoyed with myself that I had only read the one book! 

I picked up the pace a little in July but again, I didn't manage to get through many. I've been finding myself impossibly tired and falling asleep super easily every night, only managing a few pages of my current read before needing to give in and get some shut eye. I'm hoping now I'm in the second trimester that my reading pace will pick up again - I'm told your energy bounces back a little in this trimester, so here's hoping! 

I thought I'd share my reviews of the books I read in June and July as a collective Finished Reading covering both months, so here's a short and sweet run down on the books I've finished reading recently. As always, let me know your thoughts if you've read any of these books too, don't forget to recommend me your favourite authors and must-read titles and you can always keep up with my reading progress by adding me as a friend on Goodreads!

A picture of Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

A picture of Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies by Hadley Freeman
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A few months back I admitted on Twitter that I had never read the much loved classic To Kill a Mockingbird and asked the important question - did I really need to read it? A lot of you said yes, a few of you said no, and more of you claimed To Kill a Mockingbird as one of your favourite books. I decided there would be only one way to tell if this was really the literacy great that everyone hails it as, and that was to read it myself. 

Described as a 'coming-of-age anti-racist novel' set in the 1930's during Great Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows the story of Scout and Jem Finch, the young children of a lawyer who is called to defend a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. As you can imagine for the time period and, let's be honest, location of America, the story is of course highly charged with the racial prejudice of the local townspeople who disagree with Finch defending a black man, even more so that he would defend him against the word of a white man and woman. 

I'll be honest, I really didn't enjoy To Kill a Mockingbird. I am extremely against racism in any form and I felt very uncomfortable with the racist terminology used within this book. I appreciate it's set within a certain era and that it is, admittedly, an extremely good portrayal of life in 1930's America, but for me personally it just made me uncomfortable. I also found the story was completely the opposite of anything I was expecting. I found it odd to follow the story through the eyes of two young children and I spent the entire book waiting, waiting and waiting, for something to actually happen. 

I felt it was incredibly slow paced, it didn't capture my imagination in any way and certainly didn't make me want to keep turning the pages (but I am a stickler who refuses to leave a book started unfinished). I wouldn't read it again, I wouldn't recommend it to others to read and I don't think it's the classic everyone hails it to be - but, that said, we all have different tastes in books and if this is your cup of tea, then that's fine by me! I just wonder if this would have been hailed as a classic, if it wasn't one of the more prominent books to openly discuss racial prejudice for it's time. Nowadays, it's not uncommon and had it been released recently, I doubt it would have had the same applause. 

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey 
I spent months tempted to pick this up, but never sure if it would really grab me enough for me to enjoy it. Nominee and winner of numerous literary awards, Elizabeth is Missing introduces Maud, an elderly woman suffering with dementia. Maud is convinced Elizabeth, her friend, has gone missing, but no one will help her and everyone keeps telling her Elizabeth isn't missing after all. So why does Maud think she is?

Elizabeth is Missing is an incredibly well written read which beautifully explores dementia in a way which will leave you sympathising, pitying, wishing and praying. It is the first time I have read a book which has had a degenerative neuropsychological disorder as it's underlying theme, but as something I studied at University as part of the neuropsychology aspect of my degree, it is something I am extremely familiar with and truly felt was portrayed very, very well in Elizabeth is Missing.

What I loved most about this book is the way you fall in love with Maud's character, how effortlessly the story goes from present to past, easily allowing your imagination to switch from modern day London to post-war bomb damaged London and back again, all whilst wishing and hoping for Maud to find Elizabeth. The book ends perfectly, with all loose ends tied - and in a way I never expected; it was a real unexpected ending for me and really did just tick all the right boxes to make this one of my favourite reads of 2015 so far. Beautiful.

Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies by Hadley Freeman
Back when I was at University I had a very, very expensive habit. Whilst waiting for my trains home at St Pancras, I would browse the shops and more often than not, end up in the book shop - leaving with a bag full of books. My reasoning? It'd be reading material for the train journey home (conveniently ignoring the book already in my bag that I had bought with me that day for exactly that reason...). Be Awesome is one of the books I picked up during this expensive habit, and one of many that I read a few pages of, cast aside and forgot about for a good year or two. 

I'd never heard of Hadley Freeman before, a Guardian features writer as well as author of the popular 'Ask Hadley...' column, but this book has definitely intrigued me to seek out more of her work. Be Awesome is a book every woman needs to read; whether a young teen, a blossoming 20-something or successful 50+. this book addresses so many things that I personally find important as a woman. The way the media portray us, the way we should act around friends in different circumstances, the way we should - or shouldn't, should I say? - change to suit men, to name just a few of the beautifully written chapters filling this empowering, honest and no-nonsense read. I wouldn't call this a feminist book; I would call it a book of common sense with a dash of humour and the perfect ability to understand where women are coming from, without hating on other women in the process. A thoroughly enjoyable read, and one I plan to recommend to all my favourite nearest and dearest Awesome Women. 

Now, let's see how many books I can get through in August...

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