Book Total: 3 (or 6 if you count The Earthsea Quartet as 4 books) 😂
I’ve always loved reading in the winter months, snuggled up in a duvet with a hot drink and a book is the perfect escape from all of life’s smaller problems in my opinion. I do have to admit though that the majority of my reading takes place on the train journey to and from work or on my lunch breaks as I always find a million things to do when I get home.
This month I covered a range of genres – fantasy, environmental non-fiction and a fictionalised social history of life in pre WWII Berlin. With the exception of reading sequels I love mixing up the topics covered in the books I read as it keeps me really engaged and I find that I also read faster. 🤷♀️
Here’s a little breakdown of everything I read and what I thought, if you’ve read any of the below please let me know what you thought of them, do you agree or disagree with my opinions? I want to know!
The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula Le Guin
I received this book as a Christmas present from my brother about 7 years ago so I’ve not exactly rushed to read it, but I’m so glad I finally did commit to it! The four stories tell the tale of a wizard called Sparrowhawk and follows his journey from training boy mage to respected wizard and the incredibly rich but disparate world he inhabits. Each story does start off fairly slowly, but I was rewarded at the end of each tale with a wonderfully satisfying ending that tied up all the loose ends – so make sure you stick with it!
Aside from the obviously enthralling aspects of spells and dragons that are effortlessly weaved together into a rich tapestry of lore, Le Guin also puts contemporary topics at the forefront of her writing even though it is set in an early modern period, from gender inequality to the privilege of those in power and much more.
The thing that struck me most when reading this book was the feeling of being so caught up in my own world, where I live and what I find normal. Le Guin eloquently describes societies and tribes that live in total isolation to the rest of the world with completely different views and traditions. This may sound like an obvious thought, but I do think it’s important to regularly remind ourselves that our way of life is not the only way of life and it is definitely not the only correct way to live. A lot of characters in the book are left in awe of what magic can achieve, but I think the overall message is what individuals can achieve by accepting all kinds of people, treating them with kindness and as equals.
Conclusion: I would highly recommend this book to all fantasy lovers especially if you enjoy books like LOTR and His Dark Materials as I feel the themes of grand quests and life’s relationship with death are present throughout the series. Like LOTR the tales are not always fast paced, but the lore is beautifully rich. You will find yourself piecing bits of information together throughout the four stories, building a stronger picture of what is to come without being spoon fed which I really appreciated.
No One is too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg
This book was another Christmas present but this time only from last year – so I’m doing much better! This is a very short and very easy to read book filled with speeches Greta has given around the world. The simplicity of the book is, in my opinion its greatest asset. Greta clearly and succinctly demystifies the world of climate change crisis, using easy to digest facts to shock you into action. It is unforgivable that the journalist spotlight is not being shone on the climate crisis which in less than 10 years could be irreversible.
This book does not offer simple solutions for you to implement at home because in Greta’s opinion the change we need is the responsibility of governments and large organisations who can make a real difference in reversing global warming.
Conclusion: Please read this book! It is truly shameful that the world is relying on a 17 year old to raise awareness for a crisis that will bring an end to life as we know it on earth. This book is guaranteed to get you thinking and hopefully get you angry and beyond that get you to panic – as Greta says “act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”
Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
Another Christmas present from last year – I’m doing well aren’t I? This is a book I’ve heard mentioned a lot without ever knowing anything about it so I had no real idea of what to expect. One of my favourite genres of non-fiction is social history as I think the person aspect allows you to connect with the past more effectively than reading about government policies or war strategies. This book, therefore, really appealed to my love of history, and due to its fictional story telling format, I found it very hard to put down.
The main challenge I faced while reading this though was my great dislike of some of the characters, but I don’t know whether you’re really meant to fall in love with them, they are there I think to add to the spectrum of normal life. These characters alongside the ordinary subjects covered, like going to work and spending time with friends in bars helps to convey the unexpected subtlety with which the Nazis Party took a hold of Germany.
I found the format quite refreshing, a linear story line but jumping with each chapter to a new part of the protagonists life, already settled into his routine with new acquaintances without the need for explaining the details in between. This resulted in a well rounded understanding of different perspectives and how Nazis Party politics creeped into each character’s life.
Conclusion: I found this really hard to put down because I really wanted to see what each character would do next. I guess this style of writing is probably my version of reality TV, an in-depth view into several people’s personal lives but in a historical context that helps me to relate to situations that are so often discussed but not always humanised.