15 Mar 2023

One Minute Book Reviews: What I've Been Reading This Winter


Winter reading

Ooo it’s been a good start to the year reading-wise. Some truly brilliant books. Let’s dive right in! 

The Food Almanac compiled by Miranda York - The perfect gentle book to start the year with. From various writers and artists, a beautiful collection of stories, recipes and illustrations for each month in the kitchen. It would be ideal to read each chapter at the beginning of each month of the year but after two years sat on my bookshelf with this intention (I kept forgetting), I decided to read it all in one go and it was lovely to do this in January and look forward to the year ahead. Essential reading if you are a foodie and love food writing. 4/5

Woman, Eating by Claire Kohda - A young vampire moves to London to live alone for the first time, and struggles to access the pig’s blood she needs, to reconcile the conflicts she feels about her diet, about her mixed-raced heritage, and her relationship with humans. I found this to be unsettling, claustrophobic, almost stream-of-consciousness and a unique take on millennial angst and the vampire genre. I once read a book reviewer describing a book as something they had ‘experienced rather than enjoyed’, and that’s a pretty accurate summary of this book for me. And yet I can’t deny that I have thought about this book a lot since reading. 3.5/5

Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey - A year in the life of Maggie, aged 29, whose marriage has ended after just 608 days. This was both involuntary-snort-out-loud funny and desperately heartbreaking. An exploration of loneliness in the internet age, the long road to recovery after a traumatic event and the harsh realities of being single in a society that prizes relationships. Maggie’s character was so well written that I felt like I really knew her and the entire chapters given to google searches, lists and emails were comedy genius. 5/5

Really good actually

The Whalebone Theatre

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin - I nearly didn’t buy into the hype of this one because I have no interest in gaming whatsoever but if you’re the same, I’m here to confirm that this book is absolutely worth your time. It tells the 20+ year saga of Sam and Sadie who meet in hospital as children and go on to become famous video game designers. There’s love, friendship, devastation, escapism and ultimately, the beauty of creativity. It’s an incredibly immersive book, just like the games themselves, and each character is beautifully human with strong flaws, but always with redemptive features too. Yes it broke my heart, but I loved it. 5/5

The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn - I admit, I’m pretty generous with book ratings. But then, I don’t understand this unwillingness to give a higher rating simply because you’ve read a lot of good books recently or you want to be deliberately harsh. If I’ve enjoyed a book, I’m all for shouting about it. Some books, however, do make me wish to rate that bit higher. To add an extra star; 6/5 so to speak. And this is definitely one of those books. The writing was truly gorgeous. Following the lives of three unconventional siblings, this expansive novel takes you from a crumbling house in Dorset to occupied France, from the purity of childhood summers to an early adulthood derailed by war. A family saga told over many years, a tale of friendship, courage and hope and some of the most vivid descriptions of war I have ever come across; to say I felt right at the heart of it would be an understatement. This novel already feels like a classic. 5/5 

I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai - Successful film professor and podcaster, Bodie Kane, returns to teach a course at the boarding school where she spent her unhappy high school years and where her former roommate was murdered. As she gets drawn into the botched police investigation, the internet theories suggesting the wrong man was convicted and her own resurfacing memories of the time, she begins to wonder if she knows more about the case than she initially realised.  I read this in a bit of a frenzy because the mystery of who killed Thalia was incredibly absorbing. It kept me guessing right until the end and whilst the reader gets an answer, I liked the fact that it wasn’t a neatly tied up ending. No justice for an unfair world. I found this a clever book, well beyond the central who-dunnit plotline, particularly the social media and cancel culture sub-threads, the delve into the unreliability of collective memory and the questions surrounding the morality of true crime podcasts and social media detectives.  5/5

Happy reading folks x