More speedy reviews

Could I pick a more unlikely group of books to review? No.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

The good bits: The sense of place is exquisite, as are the descriptions of the food…

The not-as-good-bits: I was expecting more suspense. Actually, I was expecting more of everything (this book came so highly recommended by so many readers that my expectations were probably unrealistic).

When should you read it?: if you feel in need of a coming-of-age story with atmosphere.

2.5/5

See What You Made Me Do by Jess Hill

The good bits: There are stories in this examination of domestic abuse in Australia that will never leave my mind. They are horrific, and Hill’s telling of them is powerful. Some chapters stand out, in particular the section on Indigenous Australians and the historical context of domestic abuse. And Hill suggests ways forward – some systemic, some practical (why don’t we have women’s police stations?!).

The not-as-good-bits: While Hill stays predominantly on the narrative nonfiction path, she occasionally strays into the inevitable but necessary stats.

When should you read it?: Immediately.

4/5

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

The good bits: When you’re in the mood for satire, it’s the best – this book delivers. Like all good satires, it finishes with a delightful ‘everything comes together’ scene, but don’t be deceived by the high jinx – there are deeper themes woven into the story, that speak to a person’s dreams and expectations. Also, read it for the exceptionally lovely paragraphs describing Antarctic icebergs.

‘…white, yes, but blue, too, every blue on the colour wheel, deep like a navy blazer, incandescent like a neon sign, royal like a Frenchman’s shirt, powder like Peter Rabbit’s cloth coat, these icy monsters roaming the forbidding black. There was something unspeakably noble about their age, their scale, their lack of consciousness, their right to exist. Every single iceberg filled me with feelings of sadness and wonder.’

The not-as-good-bits: It did veer toward far-fetched but the craziness is part of the fun (and it will make a great movie).

When should you read it?: If you have an epistolary square to fill on Book Bingo, this is your book.

3.5/5

Unf@*k Your Anger by Faith Harper

The good bits: A clear, comprehensive examination of anger and its context (anger often masks other things happening in a person’s life, such as depression). Harper suggests a range of strategies and exercises for identifying and managing anger.

The not-as-good-bits: I don’t mind sweary books but I hope people aren’t put-off by the title because it really is a neat guide.

When should you read it?: Ever felt road rage? Ever been furious at someone you love? Anger presents in everyone – interesting to know why.

3.5/5

 

23 responses

  1. I liked Where the Crawdads Sing a lot more than you, but then, I read it before it was even released, before all the hype, so I was able to approach it fresh with zero expectations. I do think that makes a difference sometimes.

  2. One of the few times I worked for a big employer my boss sent me to a therapist over a month or two for ‘anger management’. I mostly talked about my wife leaving me but it really helped. What I’m saying is if you have issues see someone.

    • Of course I totally agree about seeing someone! I think the difficulty is that people rarely identify anger issues in themselves and added to that, seeking help for anger issues can bring about a sense of shame because anger is associated with a loss of control (and as humans we feel threatened if we lose control). Anger can be associated with depression and grief but either way, the key thing to understand is that it’s a ‘secondary’ emotion and that something else comes before it e.g. feeling isolated, or judged, or frightened.

  3. I loved Where’d You Go Bernadette. I need to read See What You Made Me Do, so thanks for sharing. Have you read No Visible Bruises? Also excellent and with some very practical ways to address the problem of domestic violence.

  4. I liked the beginning of Where’d You Go, Bernadette? but got so bored by it, long before it ended or we found out where she’d gone. I agree Crawdads was overhyped, not to mention completely improbable, but I enjoyed it.

  5. I tried to read Crawdads but abandoned it after the first chapter. I couldn’t stand the overblown flowery writing. 🤷🏻‍♀️

    Not sure how true it is, but I was once told depression is anger turned inwards…?

    • Yeah, Crawdads wasn’t my style.

      I’ve heard the same thing about anger/ depression. I guess that might resonate for some people. I think every person’s experience of depression is different (and the same for anxiety, grief, trauma etc etc), and unpicking the ‘self talk’ is always revealing because people are often angrier at themselves than they are toward others.

    • Yeah, Bernadette is ‘visible’ – I went in with moderate expectations and once I realised it was a satire, I lowered them further (I don’t go for satire as a first choice for humour) – the net result was a book I enjoyed 🙂

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