Life Update

Hi lovely readers! I’m sorry for not having posted any reviews in the last few weeks – I have been insanely busy writing essays and studying for exams. I’m finally free now though, so I’ll try to get through my backlog over the next week or so. Also, some pretty big changes have happened/are happening in my life right now, and I just thought I’d share them with you.

  1. I had my last exam this morning, which means that I have officially finished my degree. Woohoo! I’m relieved to be done with assessments, but I’m a little sad that my university days are over (at least for now).
  2. At the end of the month I will be leaving my beloved Melbourne to go and play in a music festival in France. I’m unbelievably excited about this, but I’m a bit heartbroken about leaving this wonderful city and all the wonderful people in it for an indefinite amount of time.
  3. I have resigned from my amazing bookshop job and will be heading off on a year-long adventure across North America in October. I don’t really have much of a plan yet, which is both exhilirating and terrifying. If you have any recommendations for things to do/places to see/bookshops to fawn over in the USA or Canada, I would love to hear from you.

Anyway, that’s my life at the moment. It’s a bit of a mess, but it’s an exciting mess. I also read a few books over the last few weeks, which I will try to review as soon as possible. Here is the list:

  • The Last Painting of Sara De Vos – Dominic Smith
  • The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
  • The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America – Bill Bryson
  • Adulthood is a Myth – Sarah Andersen
  • O Pioneers! – Willa Cather
  • Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Do you have any good post-graduation book recommendations? Or recommendations for books that will get me excited about road-tripping across America? Would love to hear your thoughts. ūüôā¬†

~Anna

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Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Summary from Goodreads:

As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu‚ÄĒbeautiful, self-assured‚ÄĒdeparts for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze‚ÄĒthe quiet, thoughtful son of a professor‚ÄĒhad hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion‚ÄĒfor their homeland and for each other‚ÄĒthey will face the toughest decisions of their lives.

Magnificent. As a big Adichie fan, I had pretty high expectations for this novel and thankfully it did not disappoint. Smart, funny, thought-provoking, moving – the list of adjectives I could use to describe this book is endless.

About halfway through the book, there is this scene where Ifemelu is at a posh dinner party in America¬†and one of the guests makes the comment: “You can’t write an honest novel about race in this country. If you write about how people are really affected by race, it’ll be too obvious. Black writers who do literary fiction in this country, all three of them, not the ten thousand who write bullshit ghetto books with the bright covers, have two choices: they can do precious or they can do pretentious. When you do neither, nobody knows what to do with you. So if you’re going to write about race, you have to make sure it’s so lyrical and subtle that the reader who doesn’t read between the lines won’t even know it’s about race. You know, a Proustian meditation, all watery and fuzzy, that at the end just leaves you feeling watery and fuzzy”. Well,¬†Americanah¬†is one of those books that is neither precious nor pretentious.¬†And it is very much about race. And it is honest and well-written and wonderful.

Yes, this book is¬†a love story (and a great one at that), but it is also so much more than that. It is about race, social inequality, immigration, self-acceptance, loss of cultural identity, and change.¬†It’s full of memorable characters, hilarious and brutally honest¬†commentary on cultural differences, and very detailed instructions on how to care for naturally kinky hair.¬†At 477 pages, it is quite a chunky volume that does drag a little at times (I guess it is a bit Proustian in some ways), but it is without a doubt one of the best books I’ve read this year. Highly highly recommended.

Have you read¬†Americanah? Or any of Adichie’s other books? Would love to hear your thoughts.¬†

~Anna

Liebster Blog Award

Hi lovely readers! So I’ve just been nominated for my first award, which is very exciting.¬†A huge thank you to Alyssa over at¬†The Ultimate Book Geek¬†for the nomination (she has a wonderful blog, which I definitely recommend checking out).

The Rules: 

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions they’ve written for you.
  3. Nominate 11 other people (preferably those with under 200 followers)
  4. Give your nominees 11 different questions to answer.

The Questions: 

1. Why did you start your blog? 

I started this blog towards the end of last year as a way of fighting tsundokism (that is, the act of buying books and not reading them, instead letting them pile up unread on bookshelves). I also think that writing reviews helps me to remember and think critically about the books I read.

2. If you had a chance to spend a day with any writer, alive or dead, who would you choose? 

If you had asked me which author, alive or dead, I would like to have dinner with, I probably would have said Virginia Woolf or maybe Stephen Hawking, but if I were stuck with them for the whole day, I’d probably go with Bill Bryson. I just think he’d be really great company and full of fun facts about everything.

3. Book subscription boxes: yay or nay? (Have you ever subscribed to one? Do you want to?)

To be honest, I don’t know too much about book subscription boxes. I’ve never subscribed to one before, but I think it sounds like fun.

4. What’s your favourite genre?¬†

I don’t really have a favourite genre¬†to be honest – my tastes are very eclectic and I like to read a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Sorry, I know that’s not a very good answer!

5. Do you like to see film adaptations of your favourite books? 

Yes, I do!¬†Although I think that the book is always better than the movie…

6. Have you read a book over a dozen times? If so, which book? 

It’s a bit of a clich√©, but I’ve read the Harry Potter books more times than I can count. Those books basically defined my childhood.

7. Name a book you DNF’ed recently.

For some reason I couldn’t get through ‘The Blazing World’ by Siri Hustvedt. Don’t get me wrong, it’s exceptionally well-written and the idea is fascinating, but I just really wasn’t in the mood for it. At some point I would like to go back and finish it.

8. What was the last book that totally blew your mind? 

I recently read ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ by Paul Kalanithi, which was one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful memoirs I have ever read (you can find my review here).

9. What’s the last book you recommended to someone?¬†

I honestly have no idea. I work in a bookstore and so I spend a lot of time recommending books to different people and I am not very good at keeping track of all my recommendations. Sorry, I know that this is a terrible response!

10. Do you have a favourite bookmark? 

Confession: I dog-ear my pages instead of using bookmarks. I know, it’s terrible! I just always lose my bookmarks and I’m really bad at breaking habits.

11. Have you ever thought about starting a book club? 

I’ve thought about it and I think it would be great fun. Maybe some day!

My Nominations: 

Big Reading Life | Musings From Abroad Blog | Red Lips and Bibliomaniacs | Consumed By Ink | The Book Whisperer | Cleopatra Loves Books | MN Bernard Books | Reading Every Night | The Owl on the Bookshelf | Literary Weaponry | Deborahjs

My Questions: 

1. Do you read one book at a time or multiple?
2. What was your favourite childhood book?
3. Which author do you think is totally overrated and why?
4. What was the last book you read that made you laugh a lot?
5. What was the last book that made you cry?
6. Are you a fast or slow reader?
7. Name a book you DNF’ed recently.
8. What is your go-to genre for long-haul flights?
9. What is the most recent classic you read and what did you think of it?
10. What is next on your TBR?
11. Do you have a favourite bookshop? Why is it your favourite?

Once again, thank you to Alyssa for the nomination! I had a lot of fun answering these questions and I hope you will too.

~Anna