June was an exciting month of reading as it introduced me to two of my new favourite authors, I received my first ever book swap, and I read two really important books on making feminism intersectional and the science (or lack thereof) behind race and racism.
Like many others, I’ve made a commitment to myself to continue diversifying my bookshelf to include more books, both fiction and non-fiction, from authors who are too often marginalised. I plan to include more BIPOC and queer authors and stories in my monthly reads – and I strongly encourage you to do so too.
I also attended a great event run by Cardiff Feminist Book Club, focusing on how we can break down White Feminism and ‘do the work’ to make sure we’re being actively intersectional, anti-racist and better allies. They’ve shared a really useful list of resources including books, articles, podcasts, people to follow, kids resources, poetry, documentaries and more. You can see the list here.
Here’s what I read in June!
Carmen Maria Machado is one of the two ‘new favourite authors’ that I mentioned in the introduction. I just adore her writing style, the sense of unease she creates and her unique approach to the structure of her stories.
This book is an incredible collection of creepy short stories that maps the experiences of women’s bodies and the violence enacted upon them. It’s beautifully written and creates the perfect atmosphere of otherworldly, looming dread.
I think it’s fair to say I’m pretty obsessed with Kirsty Logan’s short stories, especially those that have a touch of the spooky about them. After reading and loving Things We Say in the Dark, I was eager to read more of Logan’s work so I picked up A Portable Shelter.
This collection is a magical set of short stories that are full of emotion and rich with description. They’re basically fairy tales for adults and a great, quick read!
The second of my favourite author discoveries this month. Brit Bennett! There’s been a lot of people sharing how much they loved The Vanishing Half online and I am definitely one of those people. Bennett masterfully creates such realistic and vivid worlds and characters, it’s hard to not become invested in the stories. I’m so excited to see what is to come from her in the future.
The Vanishing Half tells the story of twin sisters who grow up together in a small, southern black community but run away aged sixteen. Their lives splinter as they choose to live in very different worlds, one black and one white. I was genuinely upset when this book ended because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters. I highly recommend picking up this fantastic book if you’re looking for a story that you can get lost in.
My book swap read, thanks to the wonderful Ellie of Carefully Curated Chaos. Book blogger pal turned friend, Ellie knows I love spooky short stories and so we did a swap. She sent me The Body Artist and I sent her Europa 28: Writing by Women on the Future of Europe.
The Body Artist is different to anything I have ever read before. It’s a story of the grieving process of a woman, following the death of her husband. It’s an intimate look at how someone deals with loss and the haunting presence that grief can become.
A very powerful, important and eye-opening read. Hood Feminism has challenged a lot of what I have previously learned and thought about feminism and highlighted how much more I can be doing to truly be an intersectional feminist and an accomplice.
This is essential reading for all white feminists.
Emezi’s debut novel, Freshwater explores the concept of the fractured self. It follows the story of a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves which impact the way in which she experiences and navigates the world.
It is another really powerful, interesting read. It’s beautifully written although not always the easiest to follow, you have to really pay attention to the different selves and the personalities at play within the book. It deals with some very heavy topics under the overarching theme of mental health and how someone manages fractured identities internally. I’ve never read anything quite like this before.
The Frightened Ones tells the story of Suleima, who meets a man, Naseem, in her therapist’s waiting room. They begin a tense affair, but when Naseem leaves Syria, he sends Suleima the unfinished manuscript of his novel. But, Suleima finds she has a lot in common with the novel’s protagonist and starts to question where the boundaries are between her memories, the story and reality.
I had high hopes for this novel and although there was some great writing, I had to abandon it about half way through because it seemed very disjointed and I didn’t really understand the plot or if there even really was one. It started to become quite dull, with no real focus.
Before I was even half way through The Vanishing Half, I put in an order for The Mothers. I just knew I had to read more by Bennett!
The Mothers is Bennett’s first novel and it tells a story of community, love and ambition, all centred around a secret. The lives of three young become intertwined and dogged by the question of what could have happened if they had chosen differently, if their lives hadn’t taken this path.
It is an incredibly engrossing read, a book that I didn’t want to put down. If you’re looking for a new author to fall in love with then get both of Bennett’s books. You’re in for a treat.
How to Argue with a Racist is an important and educational read. Rutherford offers a detailed exploration of the science, history and reality of race, whilst debunking some key myths of racism.
I struggled sometimes with the scientific language, but despite that Rutherford puts forward clear explanations that will change how you think about race, ethnicity, skin colour and the social and cultural ideas that have become tangled up with them.
The book is both eye-opening and interesting, and it helped me to understand some key points of race, racism and the history of humans that I had never previously considered or explored. A vital read.
Have you read any of these books?
I’d love to hear if you have read any of these and what you thought! Let me know in the comments – and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram if you want to see what I am reading at the moment.