Bookish Discussions

June Reading Wrap-up:

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Another month, another reading wrap-up. June was a pretty good month, and I managed to read a total of eight books. Not as much as my previous reading wrap-ups, but still a good amount.

As always, there will be reviews for the majority of books mentioned. If the titles are highlighted in red or blue (depending on where you’re reading this), then the review is already published for you read!

Enjoy…


Beatrix Potter’s Complete Tales | 3.5 out of 5 stars:

My mum purchased the complete collection of Beatrix Potter’s tales for me whilst I was younger. I was eager to revisit some of my favourite childhood stories, so I decided to alternative between this collection and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

I’m not a fan of children’s literature, so these stories didn’t mean as much to me this time round. As usual, I found myself getting frustrated with the overtly simple things. Despite this, I enjoyed revisiting stories that have shaped my childhood (the most important being my dog, Tiggi, who was named after Mrs Tiggy-Winkle).


Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell | 3 out of 5 stars:

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a 1,000 page novel set during the Napoleonic Wars, and it details the rebirth of English magic. It’s been sat on my shelf for a few years now, and after putting it off for years, I finally made my way through it.

I expected to enjoy this a lot more than I did, but that doesn’t mean to say I didn’t enjoy it at all. I think it was phenomenal book, written beautifully with an intricate plot. My main issue was the footnotes – for a 1,000 page novel, the endless footnotes made reading seem like a chore. If the information was that important, Clarke would have surely included it in the actual narrative. Despite this, I enjoyed the pastiche of 19th century literature, the host of characters, and the magical world.


Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge | 4.5 out of 5 stars:

I’ve neglected Victorian literature for too long now, and I thought Hardy would be the best place to get me back into the swing of things. It follows Michael Henchard who, in a fit of drunken rage, sells his wife and child at a country fair. Over the following years, he establishes himself as a respected pillar of the community. But his shameful past cannot escape him, and both his wife and child re-enter his life.

I really enjoyed the complex characterisation of Michael Henchard. I saw the good and bad in him, and that made me like him all the more. There were times when I hated him, but there was also times when I felt sorry for him. He put himself in these situations, but I could see where he was coming from. I also liked how there was always something happening. The narrative was never boring, and I was swept away with the story. I would highly recommend!


Christine Alexander & Sara L. Pearson’s Celebrating Charlotte Brontë | 5 out of 5 stars:

Alexander and Pearson join together to analyse Jane Eyre in a whole new light. By providing both a commentary and illustrations, they explore how Charlotte managed to ‘transform her lived experience into a fictional masterpiece’. They hone in on the material objects in each chapter, connecting them back to the family or contemporary culture.

I enjoyed the scholarly side to this, and I now have a whole new view on Jane Eyre because of it. Despite the tedious nature of this type of read, I was swept away with the commentary. I couldn’t put it down and, when I did, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I think both writers did a brilliant job at analysing my all-time favourite novel, and I would definitely recommend to those who are also interested in this type of read!


Karen Kenyon’s The Brontë Family | 3.5 out of 5 stars:

I was sent a copy of this biography by the publishers in exchange for an honest review. Although it wasn’t my favourite biography on the family, and often got little details wrong, I still think it’s a good place to start with non-fiction.

Kenyon glossed over all the nitty-gritty details, and provided you with the most important parts of the Brontë family life. I particularly liked how Kenyon paid close attention to Branwell – she painted him in a nuanced light, and covered all of the contributing factors to his downfall (not just his affair with Lydia Robinson). It was very brief and to-the-point, but I have read a lot better!


Winston Graham’s Poldark | 4 out of 5 stars:

Set at the back end of the 18th century in Cornwall, England, the narrative follows Ross Poldark. He has recently returned home from fighting in America, but it wasn’t the homecoming he expected. His father is dead, his estate derelict, and the girl he loves is engaged to his cousin. On a whim, he rescues a half-starved urchin girl from a brawl – an act that changes the course of his life.

I knew I would enjoy this – the BBC adaptation is one of my favourite programmes – but I didn’t expect to like it this much. I really enjoyed the sensitive discussion on class – Ross is of the landed gentry, his cousin of the aristocracy, and Demelza is from the lower-class. There is a blurring of class boundaries, and I think Graham executed it brilliantly. I am eager to read more from this series!


Allie Esiri’s A Poem For Every Night of the Year | 2 out of 5 stars:

The intended purpose for this collection is that you read one poem every night of the year. There are poems specific to that date, and others just allocated to a date. Either way, you read one every day.

…I don’t have that sort of patience. I read it in its entirety or not at all. I started off reading every poem and every paragraph detailing it – I enjoyed some, disliked others. Then I started to get really bored. I started skipping longer poems, poems I’d already read, poems by writers I knew I didn’t like, and so on. It just got so boring. Just not for me, unfortunately!


Melissa Harrison’s Summer | 3 out of 5 stars:

This was the last book I had left to read in the series. If you’re unfamiliar with these books, then Melissa Harrison has collected an array of writing that celebrates the English seasons. These books are meant to make people appreciate nature, and some of the money from your purchase will go to The Wildlife Trust.

Considering I hate summer, I rather liked this book. There were entries concerned with all types of topics including the wildlife, landscape, plant life, weather, and so on. It made me look at summer in a completely different light, and I was introduced to a variety of new authors. I would definitely recommend this series if you enjoy nature writing!


…and that’s my June reading wrap-up!

A few good reads, and a few naff ones, but I have managed to tick quite a few books off my list. My favourite reads were definitely Hardy’s The Major of Casterbridge, Pearson and Alexander’s Celebrating Charlotte Brontë and Winston Graham’s Poldark.

What were you favourite reads of July?

Thanks for reading, Lauren X

2 thoughts on “June Reading Wrap-up:

  1. Definitely understand what you mean about the footnotes in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell! I quite liked them because I love minute details in fantasy books, but there was definitely that small sense of “oh god…” when turning the page and the tiny fonted “footnotes” would be an entire page or two long.

    Liked by 1 person

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