A Few Trailers


Just a reminder that the first creative non-fiction book I’ll be reading – hopefully with some of you – will be Bluets by Maggie Nelson this coming Sunday, 21st April. If you’d like to join in there’s still time, as it is a mere 95 pages with a lot of white space, and very, very good indeed.

And a couple of other features lined up: the first is a Week of Espionage, which will happen here over the second week in May (5th – 12th). There have been so many intriguing spy novels published lately that I couldn’t resist lining them up like skittles. I’ll be reading The Girl From Berlin by Elizabeth Wilson, Red Joan by Jennie Rooney, A Foreign Country by Charles Cumming, a bit of non-fiction with The Spy Who Loved, the story of Christine Granville, first female spy of WW2 by Clare Mulley, and, if the paperback on pre-order arrives in time, Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan.

red joan

Then during the first week of June (2nd – 9th) it will be Women’s Writing Week. You may recall a while back that Dark Puss and I decided to put the issue of gendered novels to the test. Dark Puss asserts that there are no books written ostensibly ‘for’ women that men cannot also enjoy. As a real challenge, I ought to have prescribed a diet of neat Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella, but I couldn’t bring myself to do this to him (or to me). So we will be reading and discussing together:

what alice forgot

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, in which a young newly-engaged and pregnant woman slips and bangs her head in an aerobics class only to regain consciousness having mysteriously ‘lost’ a decade. Now she’s a bossy mother of three in the middle of an ugly divorce, wondering what on earth has happened. This is a straightforward genre novel, right in the ballpark of ‘women’s’ interest with a domestic focus. And I think Moriarty is a good writer.

small changes

Small Changes by Marge Piercy. I thought I’d hit the jackpot here with this feminist novel about a woman physicist battling to make headway in a man’s world. The publication date is 1973, so it will take us back to the middle of the consciousness-raising movement and it won’t mince words about male prejudice. But it turns out Dark Puss has read quite a few Marge Piercy novels! Should be interesting nevertheless to see what he thinks of a woman’s perspective on the scientific environment.

black milk

Black Milk; On Writing, Motherhood and the Harem Within by Elif Shafak. I really wanted us to have one properly literary, experimental-ish book, and this memoir by this popular Turkish writer ticked all the boxes. Depressed after the birth of her first baby, Shafak listens in to her internal monologue and finds it breaks down into six ‘thumbelinas’ who live inside her head and bicker constantly. Their voices are interspersed with those of other women writers who tried, or failed, to combine artistic creativity with motherhood. I’m really looking forward to this one.

If you’d like to join in and read along, please do feel free. And I’ll be reading lots of other books by women writers too (don’t know what yet, but open to suggestions!).


20 thoughts on “A Few Trailers

  1. Bluets is a lovely book, isn’t it?

    And, oh, Small Changes (which I didn’t read quite when it was published, though I could have – three or four years later, I think) is one of my all-time most beloved and inspiring books – it would be nice to read it again, and particularly fascinating to know how some male readers in 2013 respond to the male characters; it definitely qualifies as a historical novel, I think (which is not to say that everything depicted has changed beyond recognition – only some of it).

    • Small Changes was a sort of snap decision for me, as I’d got three texts in place, and then suddenly saw it and substituted it on the spur of the moment. I am so glad I did! I’m very interested to know what Dark Puss will make of it. And yes, Bluets is lovely.

  2. Alas, I can’t read along with any of the books, my dance card is full already!
    I can’t wait to hear what you and DP think of the three books you have selected, especially Small Changes since DP is a physicist. Will his reaction be like that of other professionals, such as doctors or policemen, who can’t stand to watch medical dramas or cop shows?
    I have wanted to read some Elif Shafak ever since she was longlisted for the 2013 Woman’s Pricz for Fiction. I thought I would start with her novels first, but if you end up recommending the memoir, I will put that on my list for sure.

    • Ha, I like the idea of the dance card – now that I’m so booked up I’ll be using it elsewhere myself on the blogworld! I’m so intrigued to hear what DP will have to say about the books. Elif Shafak was recommended to me recently and I was going to read her fiction until I swaw this. Then it just had to be Black Milk. Oh and I’ll alter that tiny typo in a bit, don’t worry!

  3. I loved your idea of creating your own course with the creative nonfiction reads. Unfortunately, given that I am overbooked in too many book discussion groups and serving on the One Book One Community selection committee in my region of Pennsylvania, I didn’t feel I could join in. I might, however, join you for women’s writing in June (by then, the One Book, One Community Book will be chosen, and my library book discussion group will be taking its “summer vacation.” A plus is that I’ve already read “What Alice Forgot” and really liked it. An interesting choice on your part, because when I was reading it, Bob asked me if it was chick lit, and I said, “Well, sort of, but out of all these sorts of books I read, it would be one of the few I’d recommend to you.”

    • Never mind, if you drop by every now and again, that would be wonderful! So interesting what you say about What Alice Forgot. I’d read Liane Moriarty before and she made me laugh a lot, and so I felt confident I’d like it much more than most chick-litty books, although she is better than that designation has now come to mean!

  4. And just when am I supposed to find time to do all this:) I really want to be there and I might make it with the espionage because I have the Charles Cumming on my shelves. And re-reading Marge Piercy is never anything other than a pleasure. But you might have to give me a free pass this weekend as I’ve promised to look over such dissertations for an ex-colleague. Don’t ever think retiring gets you out of academic life. Once you’re there you’re there for ever.

    • Free passes readily handed out! I just hope the dissertations are good – I can recall the quality varying a lot, between those that were actually interesting to read and those that redefined the notion of boredom. I’d love you to be part of any of the discussions, but just when you can and it doesn’t involve any stress or strain!

      • I’m afraid my comment on the first one was ‘if I was going to write this dissertation I wouldn’t start from here’. Seriously disastrous given that they have to be handed in completed on May 3rd!

  5. Wish I could read Bluets along with you but my plate is too full at the moment. I love Marge Piercy and so does Bookman. I’ve not read Small Changes yet though. Not sure I’ll be able to get to it the same time you do, but I look forward to your thoughts on it and all the other books!

    • Stefanie, I love it that you turn up so regularly here and I couldn’t possibly ask for more! This will be my first Marge Piercy and I’m really looking forward to reading her!

  6. Oh no, you had to go and do this, didn’t you? I was just agonizing over which books I was going to spend time with this weekend and now you’ve made the choice even harder since I absolutely have to (at least try) and read along with your spy novels. I have the Wilson and am going to go grab it now–also have the McEwan and since it is in cloth I should read it now, too. I may not get them done in time since May is fast approaching, but I will give it a good try! 🙂 Dark Puss is a good sport–I look forward to hearing about the books you’ve chosen and seeing if indeed gendered novels can be read and enjoyed by all. I also like Marge Piercy, and will have to at least think about reading along….but if not I will eagerly wait to see how you both like the books you’ve chosen. I missed your initial discussion–have meant to go back and read the post so now I must do so!

    • Oh I’d love you to be there for the spies, but honestly, I know how hard it is to get to read books on time. I’ve failed to do it so often myself! As for Dark Puss, I confess I’m feeling a bit guilty as I really have thrown the cat into the deep end! He is a very good sport, and I do hope he finds the experiment interesting in the end! I’ve never read Marge Piercy before and I’m really looking forward to it.

    • Reading along not at all obligatory! I love it when you call by, Lilian. As for my list-making, ah, I think it got a touch out of hand, but I’m really looking forward to the books too! 🙂

  7. Pingback: May Reading | Tales from the Reading Room

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