Books 11-15

Introducing the Medieval Ass, Kathryn L. Smithies

I (obviously) bought this book mostly because of the name but I really enjoyed it – there were a suitable number of ass puns balanced with some really interesting analysis of donkeys in medieval texts and culture. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in medieval things and animals – it’s academic but also pretty accessible to those without an academic background.

The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle, Neil Blackmore

I didn’t really enjoy this at all – none of the central characters had any redeeming qualities that I could see, and it was hard to tell what motivated them. The parts that I think were supposed to have an emotional impact really didn’t because of little I was invested in the characters, especially the titular Mr Lavelle. I was also unimpressed with the lack of women in the book – those that did exist were portrayed as liars and manipulators. The whole thing just left a nasty taste in my mouth.

(It’s also pretty sweary, which doesn’t generally bother me but I know some people are bothered by it. The only thing that did bother me about the swearing was that it felt like the author was just showing that a particular character was a ‘rebel’ rather than feeling at all genuine)

Billy Connolly, Tall Tales and Wee Stories

I enjoyed this, although not as much as his ‘Made in Scotland’, which I read in 2020. It was quite light and insubstantial but that’s the kind of thing I wanted. I wouldn’t say it’s a must read, but it’s certainly not a book to avoid either.

Charlene A. Carruthers, Unapologetic

This was, as the title suggests, a non-fiction book about black queer feminism. I found it really interesting though I was quite glad it was short! The framing of the author’s own experiences in a youth organisation helped to provide some much needed structure and it was a very well written book. It’s based in a culture very different to my own but many of the concepts were familiar – though it’s definitely not a beginner text. Her discussion of intersectionality and its importance was probably my favourite part.

Bill Bailey, Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to Happiness

Another non fiction book (the next thing I read will be fiction!) but this was, as I suspected, a very light and easy read, exactly what I needed . Bill Bailey is one of my favourite comedians and really this book felt much like the other things he has done. Funny and clever, but never cruel or unkind, I really enjoyed it. I can’t really think of anyone better to write a book about happiness than him – when he appeared on Strictly last year, one of the things that really stood out for me was just the sheer joy he exhibited throughout.

And with that, my next five books are done! I took a few days off from reading because of the vaccine and feeling very fatigued but I feel much more back to what passes for my normal now (and at 15 books so far for 2021, I’m still ahead of my target!)

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