My July choice for The Year in Books was Wild by Cheryl Strayed, a memoir that I very much enjoyed, and followed with The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, memoir combined with nature writing set on the Scottish island of Orkney. It was starkly honest and hauntingly redemptive. This month’s book is Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin. Having written, many years ago, about the figure of the flaneur in both my undergraduate and Masters dissertations, I was fascinated to come across this feminist re-imagining of the concept, a book about the relationship between women, the city and creativity.
My most recent choice for The Year in Books was A Writer’s Diary, Leonard Woolf’s selection of extracts from the diary of Virginia Woolf. I’m still slowly working my way though it, marvelling at Woolf’s incredible mastery of language, fascinated by the stories from her everyday life. In June, although I didn’t record it here, I read The Gifts of Reading, an essay by Robert Macfarlane that I selected as my book choice for the Sisterhood Camp Book Group, a short but thought-provoking book which prompted captivating discussions during our campfire conversation. During that same book group, my book choice for July was recommended to me- Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild.
It would be no exaggeration to say that April’s book, The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit, was one of the best that I have read for a very long time. Solnit’s writing is astoundingly good, and her interweaving of memoir, fairy tale, history and science is like nothing I’ve read before. I was so taken with the book that I immediately ordered myself a copy of several of her other books, so The Faraway Nearby will not be the last Solnit to appear in the Year in Books. I’m currently reading Hope in the Dark, which you can read more about here.
My very first book choice for the Year In Books was a Persephone book, Heat Lightning. This month, I’ve returned to Persephone, with my choice of A Writer’s Diary, Leonard Woolf’s selection of extracts from the diary of Virginia Woolf. I studied Woolf’s diaries back in my literature student days, and was utterly fascinated. This selection of extracts appeals to me not just because of its elegant dove grey Persephone dust jacket, but because Leonard Woolf has selected passages that refer to Virginia Woolf’s intellectual life and show her in the act of writing, when ‘she reveals, more nakedly perhaps than any other writer has done, the exquisite pleasure and pains… of artistic creation.’
I’m late with my post this month- the Easter holidays ran away with me, but I’ve been reading nonetheless. March’s book, The Secret Lives of Colour, was a treasure trove of delights! Telling the history of 75 different dyes and hues, it’s a book bursting with stories and secrets. I was utterly drawn in by it, and when I found myself in an art shop, I saw the paint pots with fresh eyes, knowing that each shade had a remarkable tale to tell.
For April, I’m reading a book that my brother gave to me for my birthday, The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit. My bro is an academic and he has a knack of sending me thought-provoking books that I might not have chosen for myself. His last gift was Seven Brief Lessons in Physics, which I was surprised to find that I adored. This choice has been no exception- its opening paragraph really spoke to me, in fact I think it’s probably one of the finest that I have read for a long time. Solnit is a remarkable writer.
Read on for the details of how The Year in Books works…