By my usual standards, reading definitely took a back seat in July. Mainly, this was because of travel, because I visited the wonderful part of the world that is Italy…and in particular Puglia, where experiencing turquoise seas, wine, pasta and gelato took precedence over reading.
My least favourite, very meh, read of the month was definitely Shtum – the story of a relationship between a father and his autistic son, this was one I picked up cheap on Kindle Daily Deal. While the concept is great in theory, and it was described as equal parts darkly funny and heart-breaking, I found it to be neither. It struggled to hold my attention, and whilst Jonah’s character was interesting to read about, the man-child, wallowing character of his father, and the unlikeable Emma just annoyed me.
Thirteen Reasons Why made a big splash in young-adult circles when it was published and was adapted into a Netflix series (which I have not watched), so I was curious to see what the hype was about. Overall, mixed feelings. The writing was good, and I felt like it brought some important issues that teenagers face to light, highlighting that we do need to be more conscious about our words and actions, but on the flip side, it glamorises suicide and I felt no sympathy for Hannah Baker, who ultimately came across as braty and whiny and unwilling to take any personal responsibility for her life as it was.
Sing, Unburied, Sing was a beautifully written and intriguing look at the dark side of family relationships in America, especially from a mixed race angle, and I loved the character of Jojo. However, Jojo aside, none of the other characters resonated and they all came across as fairly cliched (junkie mom, jailbird dad), and I was also not a fan of the ghostly, supernatural element of the plot.
If you’re already familiar with personal development and are fairly widely read on the subject, then The Code of the Extraordinary Mind may or may not be for you. It may work because it is a good consolidation and summary, and hence reiteration, of what a lot of other books in the field say, or…you may just get frustrated that there is nothing new and particularly insightful, and feel like the author does occasionally come across as quite self-absorbed and that this book is ultimately a marketing tool for Mindvalley (which I was surprisingly fine with because I already expected it to be).
I was first introduced to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh through Peace is Every Step, which led me to read The Art of Living more recently. It was definitely my favourite read from the month – a little bit of a tougher read than Peace is Every Step, and best absorbed in small doses, but some great insights, which I wrote about here.
- The Code of the Extraordinary Mind (Vishen Lakhiani): ★★★★
- Shtum (Jem Lester): ★★
- Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher): ★★★
- Sing, Unburied, Sing (Jesmyn Ward): ★★★
- The Art of Living (Thich Nhat Hanh): ★★★★★