Dr Alice Violett
Book thoughts and PhD archive

What I read in September 2019

I read so many good books in September! A lot of them were new releases, as predicted - though I didn’t manage to fit in Bone China, by Laura Purcell, because my reservation turned up while I was on holiday, and I wasn’t back in the library until the 30th. Going on holiday did give me some much-appreciated extra reading time though, particularly when I was on/waiting for trains.

I’m currently just over 100 pages into Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield, and it’s wonderful so far - I can’t wait to get this post done so I can get back to it!

The Heart of the Family, The Warlow Experiment, The Art of Dying, Platform Seven, Diary of a Bookseller

The Heart of the Family, by Elizabeth Goudge - 3.5*

The Warlow Experiment, by Alix Nathan - 3*

The Art of Dying, by Ambrose Parry - 4.5*

Platform Seven, by Louise Doughty - 4.5*

Diary of a Bookseller, by Sean Bythell - 4*

This Monstrous Thing, Great Goddesses, The Haunting of Peligan City, The Truants, The Confession

This Monstrous Thing, by Mackenzi Lee - 4*

Great Goddesses: life lessons from myths and monsters, by Nikita Gill. I try so hard and I appreciate the writing and subject matter, but I’m just not a ‘poetry person’ - 3.5*

The Haunting of Peligan City, by Sophie Green - 4.5*

The Truants, by Kate Weinberg. As anticipated, an incredibly relatable main character and setting. Multiple essays and a dissertation in the first year of an English Literature BA, though? - 4.5*

The Confession, by Jessie Burton. Another highly relatable main character, albeit of my age now rather than who I was at 18. I particularly identified with Rose’s feeling that she had been meant to ‘be someone’, but it didn’t happen and she just sort of drifted through life instead. Not quite as layered or full of intrigue and history as The Muse, but that is a very high standard to set yourself! - 4.5*

Elevator Pitch, Catching a Serial Killer, Death Sentences, My Name Is Why

Elevator Pitch, by Linwood Barclay. Slick and sharp as you’d expect, though I was anticipating a higher body count (and you thought I was nice…) and I did miss the author’s usual suburban setting - 4*

Catching a Serial Killer: my hunt for serial murderer Christopher Halliwell, by Stephen Fulcher. Shocking stuff, though a bit clumsily written and unnecessarily detailed in places. I should watch the TV series but I have to gear myself up for the fight to get ITV Hub to function - 4*

Death Sentences, by Otto Penzler (ed.). Some absolute corkers of book-related short crime stories - John Connolly’s contribution is a particular winner. Wish they’d left out the Joyce Carol Oates sample after her short story, though, as it was completely unrelated to the theme and confused me after the ambiguous ending of her tale - 4.5*

My Name Is Why, by Lemn Sissay. An absorbing, shocking and heartbreaking account of the acclaimed poet’s experiences of growing up in care while black. Despite everything, kindness and hope shine through. The writer’s decision to make heavy use of official documents and stop the account as soon as he came out of the system at 18 left the historian of childhood in me wanting more, though. I plan to write a fuller review soon! - 4*

Looking ahead…

Nocturnes, River of Destiny, The Lying Room, Ring the Hill, A Biography of Loneliness

As mentioned above, I was very impressed by John Connolly’s short story in the Death Sentences collection. I’ve never read anything else by him and need to rectify that ASAP! I also need to continue my quest to read everything Barbara Erskine has written, hence River of Destiny is one of my next reads.

Nicci French is (are?) one (two…) of those authors whose books I always pre-order because they’re that good. Same with Tom Cox - I always pre-order his books when they’re funding on Unbound. Although I’m not massively outdoorsy myself, I do enjoy nature writing - especially Cox’s because it’s so offbeat and humorous, and I love reading about his family and the animals he encounters.

It would be remiss of me not to read A Biography of Loneliness, by Fay Bound Alberti! Quite aside from the fact the subject matter directly relates to an edited collection I’m writing a chapter for, and I’m curious to see how Alberti approaches loneliness in history (having looked at a very specific aspect of it myself!), it just looks really really interesting.