This is the first month that I’ve done a wrap-up post, and what a month to choose to start! I really feel like I have been utterly spoilt for good books in June. I honestly think that at least three of these will make it onto my 2019 favourite reads. We’ll just have to see what beauties the remaining months bring!
I read six books this month – having not done a round up before, I’m not too sure how this compares to an average month, but it feels like a pretty good run!
My reading this month was helped by the absolute revolution of reading more than one book at the same time. This was something I would never, ever have considered before reading this post by Amanda at Bookish Chat – About: Multi-Reading. I pondered it a bit after seeing Amanda’s thoughts and tips, and decided to give it a go – what did I have to lose?!
So I read several of these books below alongside each other at the same time. I feel like I just dipped my toes in the water with multi-reading this time round, but can definitely see it being something I’ll continue with. I particularly found it a really useful way of giving each story in the brilliant anthology Common People enough space to sink in, before reading another. Some books are also just much more difficult to read in places where there may be distractions, so I found it refreshing to make sure I was only reading those books whenever I could grab some proper time to dedicate to them.
So having hyped up these books as some of the strongest I’ve read this year…here they are!
The Rapture, by Claire McGlasson
This book took me by surprise. When I started reading it, I had very little idea of what to expect. I knew it was based on a real life religious cult, but was surprised that I’d never heard of them before. The Panacea Society were a group of devoted, religious, (mostly) women, who livedtheir lives according to the dedicated principles of the Society and their zealous leader, Octavia.
What followed was a gripping and sublime reading experience. The mood of this novel will stay with me for a very long time; I felt a number of things all at once – intrigue, fear, deep empathy, suspicion, a sadness I couldn’t shake. There is an ember glowing at the heart of this book, that flickers, and slowly grows – constantly threatening to engulf everything, but also brings a warmth.
Anyone looking for something just a bit different should definitely pick this one up. If you need any more persuading, you should read my review.
The Heavens, by Sandra Newman
The cover for this book is absolutely breathtaking, and the premise had me really intrigued. The Heavens is a story about love, alternative universes and time travel – you can tell right away it is going to be quite a unique book. Kate and Ben meet at a party at the turn of the millennium, but their whirlwind romance is complicated by the fact that whenever Kate falls asleep, she enters into an alternative universe, in 1593 London.
Overall The Heavens felt to me like a very ambitious, astute and inventive novel. I have to say that it took quite a bit more careful reading than I was in the mood for, and overall perhaps wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It is certainly a really intriguing concept which has left me thinking though! My review here goes into a bit more detail.
A Modern Family, by Helga Flatland
I was lucky to have been invited to take part in the blog tour for this English translation of a Norwegian bestseller by Helga Flatland. It was my first #TeamOrenda read, and it did not disappoint!
It has everything I absolutely love in a book – one that pulls out the many intricate and meaningful narratives that are hidden within seemingly everyday lives and events. This is also why I love the first book in my Through The Pages series, Unless by Carol Shields. Check out my review for more about why I loved A Modern Family ! It has inspired me to read more translated fiction (as did this excellent Instagram post by Siobhain at The Literary Addict).
Confession with Blue Horses, by Sophie Hardach
This was one of those books that I think might not have spotted right away, if I wasn’t book blogging, which would have been an absolute shame. I am very grateful to Helen Richardson for sending me a copy of this book to review.
It is an extremely beautifully written novel about East Berlin in the 1980s. I loved this novel, as showed me quite a fresh approach to historical fiction. It is also a beautifully written novel, full of nostalgic memories of childhood, family, and tenderness, with the central image of a painting of three blue horses haunting the pages.
If you’re into historical fiction, with an edge of suspense and a gripping plot – this one is definitely for you! You can read my full review here.
Expectation, by Anna Hope
As soon as I saw this book and its blurb, I felt an instant connection. It has been sitting on my shelf for some time, quietly calling out to me – I didn’t even want to start it, for fear of it coming to an end. I can guarantee that this book will be in my final list of favourites this year, as it is now etched in my heart, and I’m sure will become one of my favourite books of all time.
The characters and experiences Hope creates are just so real, and I’m bloody grateful for this refreshingly honest portrayal of female hopes, dreams, and existence.
As you can imagine, summing up my feelings about a book that’s had this big an impact on me feels quite overwhelming, so review is still very much forthcoming!
Common People: An Anthology of Working-Class Writers, edited by Kit de Waal
My final ‘June’ book is this wonderful collection of short pieces of writing about class from a number of fantastic writers. I have quite frankly not stopped talking about this book since I started reading it. Anyone who knows me (and many who don’t…) has had to put up with me bringing it up at every possible opportunity. I also went along to a book event, Short Stories Aloud in Oxford, where one of the contributors Adam Sharp was one of the guests, as was the wonderful Kerry Hudson.
But the completely invigorating and inspiring thing, is that is has resonated with so many others when I’ve told them about it. This book was needed, and it was needed NOW! I’m still figuring out the best way to review a collection full of so many voices and different stories, so watch this space!
Let me know if you’ve read any of these, or they are on your list!
Hope you’re all having a lovely summer,
Sophie @Sophie_Jo_Books 📚🐾