I started off the month with Banana Yoshimoto’s Lizard, a collection of short stories celebrating everyday struggles and feelings in Yoshimoto’s usual quirky style, with ideas of death, love, and family. After Moshi Moshi this is my favorite Yoshimoto book so far.
I finally finished The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami, this is another collection of short stories. I enjoyed this collection, some stories more than others of course, but overall it had all the ordinary but extraordinary charm that makes Murakami so great. (Sidenote: Jay Rubin is by far my favorite Murakami translator – good translations are SO important.) (Additional sidenote, the Noma Bar Murakami cover designs are impeccable)
I picked up From A Certain Point of View (Star Wars Novel) for May the 4th, and absolutely loved it. I have had mixed feelings about the Star Wars novels but this episodic format worked really well. This book is a retelling of A New Hope through the eyes of various background characters (like Jawas, Droids, Stormtroopers, Bounty Hunters and even Leia’s mother), the rage of writers keeps it stylistically interesting and engaging. There were a couple of stories I skimmed through, but also plenty of gems. I particularly liked The Red One, because I am a sucker for droids. They are basically the good dogs of the Star Wars universe. The Secrets of Long Snoot, The Baptist, and There Is Another also stood out for me.
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. This was my top read of the month and a book that I recommend to everyone. It really explained some of the issues people of color face in the UK, which mirrors trends around the world. Eddo-Lodge beautifully articulated topics like White Privilege, which will help me when talking to other white people about race issues.
**If you have read this book and want more information on the history of black people in the UK, as well as the abolitionist movement (mentioned in the first chapter) I strongly recommend Adam Hochschild’s Bury The Chains. **
The Accusation by Bandi. This is a collection of seven short stories designed to illustrate life in North Korea under Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il’s leadership. The situations mirror stories I have read from Western writers that have visited North Korea, as well as defectors, but hearing this from someone still living under the dictatorship is much needed and overdue. Each story is well written, with rich characters. It stands up both as a work of fiction and as a political statement.
Oblivion by David Foster Wallace. This collection of short stories showcases Wallace’s beautiful writing style while telling stories about how the age of information is affecting the human soul.
The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell. This is not the kind of book I would normally pick up, but I found Jen on her BookTube channel and after hearing her talk about her love of fairytales for quite some time I decided to give this a read. It’s weird and creepy in the spirit of classic Grimm fairy tales but written in a modern style. I’m kind of glad I pushed myself outside of my reading comfort zone, and doing in this in a short stories collection was perfect.
Also by Jen Campbell, I picked up The Bookshop Book, which is a book about the history of bookshops and what they mean to us. A bibliophile’s dream.
I finished the month with a reread of the first book in one of my favorites series, The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. It’s been about 12 years since my last read, so I am enjoying rediscovering all the little details!