Bookish Discussions

Favourite Books of the Year So Far:


I know, I’m late to the party, but I wanted to get this up.

Before July started, I had read 51 books. I’m on track to read roughly 110 this year, which is my new goal, but let’s focus on the first half of the year.

I had some good reading months, and some naff ones, but I’ve managed to whittle down 51 books to five *really* great onesMost of them, if not all of them actually, are historical. We’ve one non-fiction, and then the rest are historical fiction, mainly set in the Victorian period.

The Binding by Bridget Collins

I find it hard to believe this is Collins’ debut novel. It was complex, emotional and original.

Reminiscent of the 19th century, people can visit book binders to rid themselves of painful or treacherous memories. Once bound, their memories lose the power to haunt them. Emmett Farmer, our protagonist, is sent to be a binder’s apprentice. His curiosity is peaked when he is forbidden to enter the room in which the books are stored, and by the arrival of the lordly Lucian Darnay, with whom he senses a connection with.

The Binding had such an innotivate storyline, taking something we are familiar with and turning it on its head. Who would have thought that books could possibly be someone’s unwanted memories? It’s immersive and beautifully written, with an unexpected romance and an excellent set of characters. A must read!

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The Five // A New Favourite Non-Fiction

I’ve been desperate to read The Five by Hallie Rubenhold since its release in early 2019. I had to wait a whole year for the paperback. I consumed it all as soon as I got it; I was that impatient.C709A50A-8037-4965-8F51-17FC5FA3BB4C

The Five is different to the other non-fiction books on Jack the Ripper. Rubenhold isn’t interested in trying to understand the motives behind these gruesome murders, nor is she interested in trying to uncover the true identity of the Ripper. She is interested in the victims; she gives us a timeline of their lives, starting with childhood through to their life in London.

Rubenhold wants these women to be remembered.

I love that Rubenhold didn’t romanticise the murders. We seem to have an odd, voyeuristic obsession with the tiny details of a murder: how did they die? What did their body look like when it was found? What was the murder weapon? Dead bodies become something to probe and scrutinize. The Five didn’t actually discuss the women’s deaths – it was a passing comment. Rubenhold humanises these women, who were much more than just “victims”, by giving us a historical timeline of their lives. We get to know them on a personal level.

By focusing on just the women, and by rarely even mentioning the Ripper, and I mean rarely, Rubenhold questions why we, as the modern world, romanticise Jack the Ripper instead of acknowledging him as a murderous misogynist. We have moulded him into some sort of legend – the uncaught killer – who is remembered in history and, at time, is celebrated (or so it seems?). As a result, we leave his five victims to be forgotten about – at most, being remembered as nothing more than “prostitutes”.

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January Reading Wrap-Up:

Considering how terrible some reading months were terrible in 2019, we’re off to a good start in 2020. I’ve managed to kick my reading slump and get through eight books! I started some series I’ve been putting off, I’ve read a lot of non-fiction and I got through some of my most anticipated paperback releases of the year…

Here’s what I read in January 2020:

Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird / 5 stars

–  The Furies by Katie Lowe / 4 stars

–  The Commmunist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels /  3.5 stars

–  Things in Jars by Jess Kidd / 3.5 stars

–  The Odd Women by George Gissing / 5 stars

–  A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin / 4 stars

–  Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver / 2 stars

– The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold / 5 stars

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