Summer Reading Challenge – August Part 4

Beach Bum: Read a book that could be considered a ‘beach read’

This is a very short review because annoyingly I didn’t understand this book at all. I can’t even remember why I thought it would be a good choice for this category, to be honest, I just picked it up in a charity shop and by that justification thought it would be a good ‘beach read’. How does anyone define a beach read anyway? Take a book to the beach and read it? I didn’t take this book to the beach: In Evil Hour by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

So I can’t say much about this book, I’m too frustrated with myself and I feel like I’m missing this huge chunk of knowledge and that really really annoys me. What I’m going to do is make a note of it and once this reading challenge is over I will research Gabriel Garcia Marquez and read up a little bit on South America and reread this book at a later date, with a bit of context. I’ve already started a list of to-read after this month (I’m itching to do some planning), so this title is going right into that spreadsheet.

So whoops! On to the next one!

Let’s Get It On: Read a book that features falling in or out of love

Wow. I’ve just had one of the most amazing reads of my life. It was beautiful, it was sad, it seems like such a simple story but feels so much more than that.

I’ve just had one of the most amazing reads of my life. It was beautiful, it was sad, it seems like such a simple story but feels so much more than that.

For this prompt I read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I think I already knew that I would like this book because I splashed out and bought my very own copy alongside another one which I’m planning on reading later. I read the introduction by Zadie Smith first, and instantly made me worried about how I would perceive it myself since she was mentioning how Hurston can sometimes be disregarded when it comes to great African American literature, brushing her novel off as just a love story, giving voice to a perhaps unconventional woman, and so on. Smith describes her first reading of this story, how she was reluctant at first to read this book given to her by her mother, but afterwards loving it so much she cried for the ending and clung to the book even after finishing, which, as a reader, is something I can relate to extremely well. I have what I call a ‘comfort book’, a book I read as a teenager that I keep coming back to again and again, particularly if I’m feeling down. I do the same with Harry Potter, but being in Edinburgh and surrounded by Harry Potter shops and merchandise, it’s not as extreme.

So in the same way as reading strongly opinionated reviews before a novel can make you nervous, this introduction made me nervous about Their Eyes Were Watching God. There are mild spoilers in the next paragraph.

I needn’t have worried because this was a wonderfully heartfelt book. I found it a little slow starting at the beginning, I wasn’t sure what to make of Janie, but I think she was a little unsure about herself at the beginning too. Her relationship with her second husband baffled me mostly, and it wasn’t until she met her third, Tea Cake, that I began to really sink into it, into Janie’s life, and particularly into their relationship, which was just the most genuine and loving relationship I’ve ever read in a book. I myself have only ever been in one relationship, and that’s because my partner happens to be sweet and loving and kind and all those good things that you would want in a relationship, and Tea Cake fulfills those things too. I was getting butterflies in my stomach reading the interactions between him and Janie. I feel so sad that they only got to enjoy a couple of short years together, they were the happiest of her life, and the end was probably the most harrowing end between a couple I’ve ever read about.

This book will now be on my favourites shelf forever. I’m going to be telling everyone I know to read it.

I would also recommend Zadie Smith’s introduction, I loved this book because of it’s love story, but it’s also on my favourites because of the voice of the novel. In the same way that stories of the Suffragettes makes me overwhelmingly grateful for the freedoms they have given me, so too do these voices of those who have lived, those who have fought, those who have given our future respect and equality. The world is getting better every day.

And on that positive note, see you next time.

Isla

xx

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