I’ve read quite a lot this month and seen a ton of films, despite work being frantic for most of the month. I guess it’s down to the fact that we’re still staying close to home and not seeing many people due to the “second wave” (though surely it’s more a resurgence of the first wave?) and to the awful wet and cold weather we’ve been having in London.

My top three reads of the month, though, don’t fit my criteria for their own blog post, but are worth a mention.

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink (UK) discusses the benefits of reading for dealing with life’s ups and downs, whether outright trauma or just the daily grind. It’s a mix of memoir and recommendations, and I really liked it. She’s read a lot of the same books as me, but she also signposted me to several I haven’t read, and she’s read across a large range of genres and styles. It’s newly published – I got my copy from the recently (sort of) reopened library.

Sisters by Daisy Johnson (UK) is also newly published, a creepy Gothic chiller by the youngest writer ever to be shortlisted for the Booker prize. It’s a quick read, and rapidly very gripping. Her writing is beautiful, though it reads a bit like she’s gone through a list of Gothic tropes and ticked them off as she goes along :).

Finally, my favourite read in October was T. C. Boyle’s Outside Looking In (USA), a fictionalised (but well-researched) look at the communal living experiment instigated by Timothy Leary and his followers in the 1960s. This book really sucked me in, and I couldn’t put it down. Boyle is very good at evoking the hallucinatory experience (it brought back the 90s for me) and at convincingly communicating the dangerous allure of a bucket-load of charisma combined with a devil-may-care attitude. This book certainly doesn’t glorify LSD in any way, but is enormously entertaining as well as interesting on the ‘philosophy’ behind the thinking of Leary’s acolytes – and clear too on the potentially destructive power of illicit pharmaceuticals. I’ve now bought Boyle’s The Women, a novel about the turbulent personal life of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

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1 Comment

  1. What a useful post, this is a route map through the plethora of books. I shall be getting hold of Dear Reader and Sisters. Perhaps because I lived through all the misguided optimism of the 60s. Free love! World peace! Liberation of the consciousness through drugs! I always think of the Manson murders as a dreadful corollary to all that.

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