Well, February has been a short month, and a busy one, so it is a little bit light on new books. One of the problems is that two of this month’s books have inspired me to re-read other things, and so that has been reading time eaten up. I’ll have to up my game next month!
What I have read, however, has been excellent. Funnily enough, it has been three non-fiction books. This feels unusual for me, as I would normally describe myself as being a fiction-reader through and through, but thinking about the books which appeal to me these days, there is no doubt that non-fiction is a significant element.
The first of my books this month is The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards. This is part of the British Library Classic Crime series which has been re-issuing classic detective fiction from the first half of the twentieth century which had fallen out of favour and therefore out of print. Edwards edits the whole series and, in addition to writing detective fiction himself, is undoubtedly one of the leading experts on classic crime. The book was a thorough and detailed exploration of the genre, and as I consider myself a bit of an aficionado, I really enjoyed it. I would, however, say that Edwards’ style can be a little dry, and I’m not sure that this book would particularly appeal to a casual reader.
The second book this month, Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner was undoubtedly my favourite, and one of those books which is so rich and well-written you come to the end and just want to turn it over and start again from the beginning. Weiner is one of my favourite authors of contemporary women’s fiction, as well as being a feminist campaigner and all-round good egg.Hungry Heart is her memoir, taking the form of a series of beautifully written essays.
As a writer myself I was fascinated by her account of the way lines between fact and fiction can blur, and how therapeutic ‘writing it out’ can be. I couldn’t help going back to re-read Good in Bed and Certain Girls which seem to be her most autobiographical novels.
As a female writer, and a feminist, I was fired-up by her analysis of how sexist and misogynistic publishers, journalists and critics can be, and how dismissive of women’s voices. Overall Hungry Heart was laugh-out-loud funny, moving, compelling and inspiring – and you can’t really ask for more than that.
The final book this month is In Your Defence by Sarah Langford. Langford is a barrister, and this is a compilation of significant cases. It is largely factual, but she has changed names to protect identities, and in some chapters has merged details of several cases together to create one cohesive narrative. Other than studying Law A-level twenty years ago, I have no experience or knowledge of the legal world, and no particular interest, but something made this book leap out of the shelf at me, and I’m glad it did. It was fascinating to have a little window into such a different world, and of course that is one of the primary purposes of reading. To quote Dr Seuss ‘the more that you read, the more that you’ll know, the more that you know, the more places you’ll go.’ February may have been a bit light on books numerically, but it has taken me to many new places, so I’m ending the month happy with that.