I posted on the last day of 2020 that I wanted to read one book a day for 2021, so I thought that I would share with you the progress that I have made towards that goal as well as updates on what I’ve read this week.
What I Read This Week
Noughts and Crosses
Two young people are forced to make a stand in this thought-provoking look at racism and prejudice in an alternate society.
Sephy is a Cross — a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought — a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go. In their world, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum — a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger. Can they possibly find a way to be together?
In this gripping, stimulating and totally absorbing novel, black and white are right and wrong.
I read this book a few years ago, and I loved it. I wanted to finish the series and started by re-reading the first installment. I loved this book just as much the second time as I did the first. For a more indepth talk about this book, see my review here.
No one could begin to guess at the depth of the hatred I held for Sephy Hadley. Everything began with her and my brother. And that’s how it would end.
Where there has been love, now there is hate.
Two families have been shattered by the divided and violent society they live in.
Sephy Hadley – a Cross, supposedly powerful and privileged – has bound herself forever to her nought lover Callum McGregor’s family.
But Jude McGregor blames Sephy for all the tragedies his family has suffered. And he is determined to force her to take sides, and destroy her life . . . just like she destroyed his. . .
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and thought that it was an interesting direction to take after the ending of the first book. The way that Jude was humanised whilst still clearly being radicalised and unlikable made it easier to hate him and see him for who he is, as you could see the inner turmoil within him being quashed by his sheer determination to not think too critically.
Can the future ever erase the past? Rose has a Cross mother and a Nought father in a society where the pale-skinned Noughts are treated as inferiors and those with dual heritage face a life-long battle against deep-rooted prejudices. Sephy, her mother, has told Rose virtually nothing about her father, but as Rose grows up she becomes determined to find out more about her parentage. As Rose takes her first steps away from Sephy and into her father’s world, she finds herself drawn inexorably into danger.
I enjoyed the tension and time jumps in this book. The idea of unravelling history in a series of event told from multiple perspectives but in away that means that you don’t see things from all sides for as long as possible means that this book is a proper emotional rollercoaster. I also enjoyed how the complex social structures that are present in our society are explored and done so in a way that allowed the issues and the flaws in the characters to be compared as a motivation for their actions.
While The Light Lasts
A macabre recurring dream … revenge against a blackmailer … jealousy, infidelity and a tortured conscience … a stolen gemstone … the haunting attraction of an ancient relic … a race against time … a tragic love triangle … a body in a box … an unexpected visitor from beyond the grave…
Nine quintessential examples of Agatha Christie’s brilliance are contained in this collection of early short stories – including the very first one she ever wrote – and provide a unique glimpse of the Queen of Crime in the making.
I thoroughly enjoyed this short story collection and thought that it was interesting how Christie’s work translates into this medium. While I prefer her novels, I think that some of the ideas that are sketched out in the stories are interesting, and I am looking forward to seeing how these develop into longer works, next.
‘Somebody must have laid false information against Josef K., for he was arrested one morning without having done anything wrong.’ From this first sentence onwards, Josef K. is on trial for his right to exist in a novel which, more than any other, is infinitely perceptive about the nature of terror.
Honestly, I didn’t really understand this book. I know that it is supposed to be hard to follow, that being half the point of the book, but I don’t know what it was that I wasn’t supposed to be following. Unfortunately that makes it harder to appreciate this book for the classic that it has been claimed.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter is midway through his training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup with Hermione, Ron, and the Weasleys. He wants to dream about Cho Chang, his crush (and maybe do more than dream). He wants to find out about the mysterious event that’s supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn’t happened for hundreds of years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. But unfortunately for Harry Potter, he’s not normal – even by wizarding standards.
And in his case, different can be deadly.
The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person
From the perspective of the friend everyone should have, Frederick Joseph offers an essential read for white people who want to be better about race—and people of color who long to see their experiences validated.
“We don’t see color.” “I didn’t know Black people liked Star Wars!” “What hood are you from?” For Frederick Joseph, life in a mostly white high school as a smart and increasingly popular transfer student was full of wince-worthy moments that he often simply let go. As he grew older, however, he saw these as missed opportunities not only to stand up for himself, but to spread awareness to the white friends and acquaintances who didn’t see the negative impact they were having and who would change if they knew how.
Speaking directly to the reader, The Black Friend calls up race-related anecdotes from the author’s past, weaving in his thoughts on why they were hurtful and how he might handle things differently now. Each chapter includes the voice of at least one artist or activist, including Tarell Alvin McCraney, screenwriter of Moonlight; April Reign, creator of #OscarsSoWhite; Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give; and eleven others. Touching on everything from cultural appropriation to power dynamics, “reverse racism” to white privilege, microaggressions to the tragic results of overt racism, this book serves as conversation starter, tool kit, and invaluable window into the life of a former “token Black kid” who now presents himself as the friend many of us need. Back matter includes an encyclopedia of racism, providing details on relevant historical events, terminology, and more.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and will be doing a more indepth review of this book soon.
What I am Currently Reading
A Darkling Plain
The great Traction City of London now lies in ruins. Once, not so long ago, it hunted other cities across the vast wastes of a devastated land. Now it is a poisonous, lifeless wreck – until Tom Natsworthy and his daughter, Wren, uncover the secret hidden in its dark heart. It’s a secret that could bring an end to the war once and for all. But as Tom and Wren risk their lives, time is running out. Far away, a dangerous child with a deadly secret of his own is making a journey that may lead to the destruction of the entire human race.
Keep the Aspidistra Flying
Gordon Comstock loathes dull, middle-class respectability and worship of money. He gives up a ‘good job’ in advertising to work part-time in a bookshop, giving him more time to write. But he slides instead into a self-induced poverty that destroys his creativity and his spirit. Only Rosemary, ever-faithful Rosemary, has the strength to challenge his commitment to his chosen way of life. Through the character of Gordon Comstock, Orwell reveals his own disaffection with the society he once himself renounced.
Tobey wants a better life – for him and his girlfriend Callie Rose. He wants nothing to do with the gangs that rule the world he lives in. But when he’s offered the chance to earn some money just for making a few ‘deliveries’, just this once, would it hurt to say ‘yes’?
Reading Goal Update
I am currently 8 books behind schedule for my goal, however that occured during my exam period. I am slowly making progress on catching up, so I have confidence that I will be back on track by the end of the month. I have read more pages than required for the 300 pages to a book standard that I have imposed, so I can catch up on titles with smaller books and things will be okay.