I don’t do monthly wrap-ups because I simply do not read enough books on a monthly basis to justify it. I also don’t review every book I read. Sometimes because I’m lazy. Sometimes because trying to come up with any words about a book I’ve just read is like getting blood from a stone and all my brain will provide me with is the sound of dial-up internet connecting.
However, I do still want to mention the books I’ve read even if I’ve not reviewed them. So I’ve decided to do a wrap-up of the books I read in the first four months of the year. Will I do another wrap up at the end of August? Perhaps. I currently plan to, but we’ll have to see what my brain composition is like in another four months’ time.
Poetry and Plays
Memorial: An Excavation of the Iliad – Alice Oswald
If you love the Iliad, you should read this. Alice Oswald has transformed Homer’s epic to craft a poem that tells the tales of those who died in the Iliad. It’s exquisite. Review here.
Inside The Wave – Helen Dunmore
This collection of poetry was published just before Dunmore’s death in 2017. There is a focus on nature, life, and crossing over into death. It didn’t blow me away, but overall it was a lovely collection.
The Trojan Women – Euripides
I don’t know how I made it this far in life without reading this play, but I have finally corrected that failing. Euripides focuses on four women whose lives have been tragically affected by the events of the Trojan War: Cassandra, Andromache, Hecuba and Helen. We explore the losses that these women have suffered at the hands of men and the wars they wage. It is heart-wrenching.
I wish I could tell you which translation I read, but I can’t remember!
Goddesses, Whores, Wives and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity – Sarah Pomeroy
This was a mixed bag for me. Pomeroy explores the lives of women in ancient Greece and Rome. I enjoyed reading about the Greek stuff the most, because that’s where my interests lie. However, some of the sources used and conclusions she drew were questionable. I’m glad I finally finished it, but that’s about it.
Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age – Donna Zuckerberg
This is a book that anybody who has an interest in classics should read. Zuckerberg explores how the alt-right use ancient writers to validate and circulate their views. Whilst it is incredibly difficult to read at times, it is important to learn about how these works are used to spread harmful and bigoted views.
There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job – Kikuko Tsumura (trans. Polly Barton)
A woman who is suffering from burnout seeks a job that fills her time but requires little brainpower: “a job that sat on the borderline between being a job and not”. We follow her as she tries out several jobs and experiences a range of unusual situations. Unfortunately, I was utterly bored whilst reading it and I abandoned it at 37%.
An Imaginary Life – David Malouf
Malouf tells a story about the exile of the Roman poet Ovid. Whilst it’s probably not for everyone, I drank up Malouf’s poetic prose with joy. Review here.
Piranesi – Susanna Clarke
Unlike most people, I simply found this book okay. Everyone else seems to rave about it though and it’s shortlisted for the Women’s Prize, so you may well love it. Review here.
Country – Michael Hughes
This book. This is how you do a re-telling of the Iliad. Hughes picks up the myth of the Trojan War and places it in the middle of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. I adored it. Review here.
Lullaby – Leïla Slimani (trans. Sam Taylor)
As everyone agrees, the first line of this book is incredible: The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds. Unfortunately, the rest of the novel didn’t quite live up to it. It is an interesting exploration of motherhood, race and class; it just felt like it was missing something. Whether that was down to the translation or not I can’t say, but it left me wanting.
Marlena – Julie Buntin
Set during that precarious time in life when you are on the cusp of adulthood, Buntin has written a tale about loss, addiction, friendship, family, and neglect. Review here.
Bone White – Ronald Malfi
This book had an interesting enough concept and setting, but there was no urgency or fear in the writing. It lacked all the things that I wanted from a horror novel. Review here.
The Dumb House – John Burnside
Disturbing and upsetting and utterly brilliant. I had such a good time reading this, it was wonderfully messed up. Review here.