March Reading Round Up

It's nearly April so I should probably combine this post with next month's, especially as we're three weeks in and I haven't even finished one book yet (it's a chunky book, to be fair!), but I feel guilty about the complete and utter lack of content. Can't wait until I've finished these next two essays and I have time to blog again! Still, March was a pretty good reading month. Six books- and some big books at that- which kind of makes up for April's impending disappointment!

Stack of books
THE CRIMES OF JACK THE RIPPER

I have a fair few Jack the Ripper books but unfortunately this is one of the less good examples. I wasn't a big fan of the format, for one thing. It looks like a quick read but the text is presented in column form which is quite awkward to read, especially when large photos take up most of the page. A lot of the time, these photos aren't even related to the case. Just a picture of rooftops, for example, and no explanation as to why it has been chosen for that page. The writing itself isn't bad, although a little repetitive and waffly, but the book as a whole feels very disjointed. One chapter will be written with slang peppered throughout, the next will be formal and academic. To me, it seemed as though each chapter was a different article that had been written for a particular demographic, and then all the articles had been thrown together without editing to make them cohesive. On top of that, the author would discount or add details to fit his hypothesis without actually developing the evidence to suggest this. For example, he says we can discount Elizabeth Stride because she wasn't actually a Ripper victim, but doesn't develop the argument for this opinion that is completely against popular belief. I found myself getting increasingly wound up as I read it, although it might be a good overview for somebody who doesn't know much about the case since it addresses all the crimes, as well as those that may be related, and an overview of the main suspects.

My rating: 50% (Find out how I rate books here)

Buy The Crimes of Jack the Ripper here

FOR ALL THE SAINTS?

I'm writing an essay on hell as part of my theology module (it's every bit as bright and breezy as it sounds!), so I took out an extortionate number of books on the subject from the library. This book, by the former Bishop of Durham, was only little at 75 pages so I thought I'd challenge myself to reading the whole thing, expecting it to be very dry and academic. Actually, it was a lot easier to read than I thought, with some bits of humour thrown in. Since I'm not religious, I'm not very good on the whole Bible thing and I do find a lot of the readings overwhelming, but this was presented as if for somebody with a fairly rudimentary understanding of Christian thought- there were lots of analogies and metaphors to help clarify complex issues. I actually found I quite enjoyed it, much to my surprise, and I was able to read it in one sitting.

My rating: 54% 

Buy For All The Saints? here

POLITICS: BETWEEN THE EXTREMES

I gave this book 63%, which doesn't sound that high, despite the fact I really enjoyed it. This is mostly because the pacing and structure was a bit odd- it wasn't chronological but also didn't seem to have clearly segmented topics so it was a little confusing to read. However, I did love the book. In my eyes, Nick Clegg can do no wrong (even if he did unfollow me in 2015 after six beautiful years on Twitter and I know I keep banging on about this but I was really chuffed that he followed me ok?) Anyway, there are a lot of people who hate him and they won't ever change their minds, but I do feel like this book gave a really fair, balanced assessment of his time in office. He didn't gloss over the mistakes he made, and it made me really sad to read about all his great achievements that were completely disregarded. I also found it interesting how he wrote about the Tory MPs. Although he made it clear that he completely disagreed with their beliefs, he spoke fairly highly of both David Cameron and George Osborne, which only highlighted his total contempt for Michael Gove. Sounds like he really is just as much of a knob as we all suspected. There's a surprise! I'd expected the book to be quite dry and heavy on the political stuff but actually it was very easy to read, with some fairly light hearted and conversational, with self deprecating humour. I really recommend Politics to anyone who's interested in the Lib Dem role during the coalition (especially those who are sympathetic towards Nick Clegg because there's not many of us!)

My rating: 63%

Buy Politics: Between the Extremes here

A LIFE DISCARDED

This book was sent to me by the publishers, Fourth Estate, who also invited me to an event at their offices to discuss it. I hadn't heard of the author, Alexander Masters, before but the book sounded exactly like something I'd love to read. 148 personal diaries were found discarded in a skip, and the book takes the reader on a journey to discover who these diaries belong to. I won't say too much because it's packed full of exciting revelations and I don't want to spoil it for anybody else, but I absolutely loved it. As well as being thoroughly engaging and thrilling (for the most part- for me, some areas weren't as well paced as others), I found it hugely inspiring. It got me thinking back about my diaries, and the story I'm leaving behind as I write in them. Since reading A Life Discarded, I've picked up my poor dust-covered diary and started writing in it regularly again. The event was also fantastic, and Alexander Masters himself is an incredibly interesting man to talk to, so I'll have a post up about that soon. His books are all biographies of very ordinary people, those who aren't famous or powerful and would otherwise not have their stories told, and this is something that absolutely fascinates me. I was very kindly given a copy of all his previous books which I cannot wait to delve into. If you're interested in the very ordinary life of a very ordinary person, discovered and told in a way that is pretty extraordinary, I recommend this book. 

My rating: 71%

Buy A Life Discarded here

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX

And now we come to the Harry Potters. I was quite proud of myself for completely the final three in one month since there's almost 2000 pages between them. The Order of the Phoenix might be the longest but man, it's the dullest. Anybody else? I just feel like nothing really happens, except for that Big Horrible Thing at the end. Everything else is just setting up for the final two, and the battle at the end reads very much 'he did this. Then she did this. Then he did this. Then she did this'. Of course, I still enjoyed the book but it's far from my favourite. I don't think I'm alone in this because it's always this particular book that I see in charity shops! Keep an eye out- it's funny how many times it can be seen on the bookshelves. 

My rating: 73%

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE

The Half Blood Prince is my favourite Harry Potter film although, if I'm honest, that's largely because it heavily features love of my life Alan Rickman. I do love the book too, although it's not my favourite (or second, or third, or even fourth). This is where things really get dark and when you really start to question loyalties. It's tense, dramatic and really sets the tone for the final.

My rating: 76%

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS

Before I started rating books, I never would have said The Deathly Hallows is my second favourite Harry Potter book, but apparently it is. This is largely because of how emotional it is. 10 years on, and I was still sobbing throughout. I know it's weird but I love sad books that really break my heart and this certainly does that. I still think the final chapter is a cop out and I absolutely despise those last three words that everybody loves so much, but I can get past that. 

My rating: 78%

Buy Harry Potter here

If only I could read this much every month! Hope you're all looking forward to my one-book reading round up in a couple of weeks! 

Affiliate links have been used in this post. Thanks for Fourth Estate for sending A Life Discarded.
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