books

July Book Reviews

Hello my loves,

Here’s everything I read in July!

first, we make the beast beautiful – Sarah Wilson
2/5 Stars
☆☆

I was unsure whether to include this on here but thought I may as well, to essentially warn you of how bad it is and to tell you not to read it. I DNF’d this book at 70%, and I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve DNF’d a book in my life, if that tells you anything.

I’d been reading this book for about 50 million years and finally at the beginning of this month I decided to DNF it at 70% because it was not serving me and why should I waste time on such a rubbish book, when I’d already wasted months trying to get through it. I am not a DNFer (can’t remember the last time I DNFed a book) but this one I just needed to get rid of if that one tells you anything. Just was not serving any purpose to me at all.

This book is about Sarah Wilson’s battle with anxiety and essentially how she’s tried (and failed) to cope with it over the duration of her life so far. This book, however, is the whitest thing I’ve ever read. Wilson is completely out of touch with reality. The whole thing is essentially “anxiety is ruining my life because my OCD makes me wash my hands 400 times and want to run 50 miles within an hour-long period so in order to combat this I spent £5000 on a massage retreat in suburban Thailand where I had to live in the slums and wasn’t allowed to eat for 5 days but it was great because it cured me but then I’m just so messed up something else happened so I quit my job and threw away my phone and car because I’m not like other girls but and I went to live in a shed in the rainforest so I could be away from society whilst writing a column for Hello! magazine and getting paid looooads of money but you too should quit your job and do the same and if you don’t then you’re not trying hard enough and it’s your fault you have anxiety !! You should also come off all of your medication because all of these people you’ve never heard of say that the only way to be creative and make art is to live in your mania and therefore it’s perfectly okay that I’m giving you unwarranted medical advice because creativity will get rid of your anxiety and if you don’t listen you’re not trying hard enough! All of these famous people also suffer with anxiety and they phoned me to have lunch with me where I asked them loads of questions about anxiety and here’s what they said! I also went on holiday with the Dalai Lama and have love affairs with men but can’t commit to a relationship because I’m just sooooo quirky and anxious and pick me pick me!”

So yeah, don’t waste your time. Plenty of other good anxiety books out there that will help you. Next!

The Vegetarian – Han Kang
3/5 Stars
☆☆☆

I read this because I’m trying to start reading on my phone again after going off it for around 5 months and The Vegetarian is quite a short book / novella / whatever you want to call it. It’s split into 3 stories that are all related and is essentially about a Korean woman who becomes vegetarian because of a dream she has. In Korean society however meat is essentially the most important food and is eaten with every meal, so for her to become a vegetarian is a disgrace to her family and it brings shame upon her husband as she is supposed to represent him. Koreans have very…conservative views still. The woman stops eating meat but also basically everything else as well and becomes so emaciated she becomes ill, mentally and physically.

I have a thing about eating disorders, emaciation etc. – trigger warning for these of course – and I thought I was going to faint multiple times throughout reading the book, I could only read it in short bursts at a time as it made me feel so ill whilst reading. Even whilst typing this and talking about it it’s making me feel queasy. I didn’t enjoy reading this book which is of course I assume, the point, and felt sick throughout the duration of reading so, Han Kang mission accomplished I guess.

Dune – Frank Herbert
3/5 Stars
☆☆☆

Very excited to talk about this one! I started this one a couple of months ago but read about 70% of it during my isolation period with Covid. I will preface this by saying that I’m not a Sci-fi lover or reader but this is of course a classic and so I had to read. I’m very glad I did.

This book follows Duke Leto, the Lady Jessica (his concubine) and Paul, their son. They move from their planet Caladan to a new planet, Arrakis, where it’s all desert (hence the name Dune) and there’s barely any water. The currency of this planet is the spice, which is found in the desert and worth a lot of money, though it’s hard to mine due to the giant worms that live in the desert and so on and so forth. This is of course a miniscule description of the plot because this thing is about 600 pages with barely any breaks and the writing is TINY. I also can’t go into too much detail because 1). Spoilers and 2). The language in this book is so specific, if I was to use it it would make no sense. There’s literally a dictionary at the back of the book to help you out because every other word is a word you’ve never heard of before because this book is entirely it’s own world.

I think it’d be fair to say that Dune is one of if not the best sci-fi novel out there, and is one of the best fictional worlds created. Full credit to Frank Herbert for creating such a flawlessly brilliant world, it’s amazing how the mind can create such things. It was a fantastical experience to read this novel and I’m thoroughly glad I did so, it was so immersive and just…brilliant. My favourite character was Gurney Halleck, and I don’t have any criticisms. A 3 star for me personally just due to my own taste, but a 5 star for Herbert and the world he so brilliantly created.

Paper Girls, Book 2 – Brian K. Vaughan
3/5 Stars
☆☆☆

This is the second instalment in the Paper Girls comic book series, I read the first one in ____ and my review on that is here. I get them in the book format which is just a compilation of 10 comics together. This one was made up of comics 10-20 and was a fun read, I took my time with it and didn’t read them all in one go so it was nice to pick the book up and read just one or two a day when I felt like it, which I didn’t do last time. Excited to read the next lot in this series, though it probably won’t be anytime soon!

My Year of Rest and Relaxation – Ottessa Moshfegh
3/5 Stars
☆☆☆

This was the only book I could think to read this month due to the fact I’ve been so overwhelmingly depressed lately this seemed like the perfect (and only) option. This book follows our protagonist who has depression and believes she will be able to cure herself if she sleeps for an entire year. She lives off of her parents’ inheritance and finds a dodgy psychiatrist who will prescribe her any drug she wants, so she basically just knocks herself out on pills for 365 days because she thinks that she’ll re-emerge afterwards as a beautiful new, non-depressed butterfly.

Looking at the reviews of this book, everyone seemed to find it really weird. Like, bizarre. I however didn’t find that and thought the whole thing was quite “normal” in the grand scheme of things, or normal for me, anyway, and so I can’t really understand what everyone was talking about. This book essentially inspired me to want to have my own year of rest and relaxation in the same way but we won’t talk about that sooooooo…

The book was a super quick read and I can’t find any fault with it, it wasn’t life changing for me but it definitely put Moshfegh on my radar and was something that suited how I was feeling at the time.

Second Place – Rachel Cusk
2/5 Stars
☆☆

I don’t know why I keep reading Rachel Cusk books when, I don’t like Rachel Cusk. Well, her writing anyway. I read Outline in 2020 and was so disappointed by it, so reading Second Place I wasn’t surprised when I found my thoughts forming into the same opinion. This book is about a woman named M who’s writing to a man named Jeffers and recounting the events that have taken place over the last few months. She lives on the marsh with her husband Tony and one day they uncover a “second place” house type of deal on their land, it was under a load of brush so they clear it away and re-do it, then invite people i.e. artists, to come out to the marsh and shut themselves away in the second place for prolonged periods of time in order to focus on their work, like a little retreat I guess.

Years ago, M came across an artist named L and went to his exhibition, saying that she was absolutely captivated by his work and connected to it like no other. Years later in the present day, she writes to L, inviting him to come and stay in the second place, and the story is about M’s recount of what happened upon L finally accepting that invitation and coming to stay.

For me, Cusk writes pages of words but doesn’t actually say anything. It’s a whole load of nothing for me. Her writing is essentially one big monologue, but she’s not really saying anything, you’d think that such an amount of endless words may be quite profound or thought-provoking, but they’re not. They’re just words that make your eyes glaze over when you read them and before you know it you’ve read 20 pages and have learned nothing. I find her writing and her stories quite boring, yet I keep reading them in the hopes something will change because I like the idea of them. I guess I’ll just have to accept that Cusk and her stories are just not for me!

The Book of Angst – Gwendoline Smith
3/5 Stars
☆☆☆

This was my anxiety book of choice from The Works this month, the first 50% of it wasn’t really helpful, it was mostly just about social anxiety but kind of like a Wikipedia definition that anyone could quite easily copy and paste into a book. It was also quite self promo-ey, as in, “if you want to learn how to deal with this buy my other books!” which I imagine were also filled with the same copy and pasted definitions and further self-promotion so that you don’t end up actually learning anything and rather, are just passed from book to book in the hopes of finding an answer. The last third of this book I did find quite helpful however, the therapy sessions were beneficial. I also liked the flash cards at the end and ended up writing some out and sticking them on my wall myself. One of my favourite things about the book was by far the illustrations though, they were super cute and were really nice to see popping up throughout the book. I’d say I broke even with what I got out of the book considering I only paid £3 for it, there are better anxiety books out there but there are also worse so, this one fits nicely in the middle.

New Poems Book 1 – Charles Bukowski – 4 stars – ☆☆☆
New Poems Book 2 – Charles Bukowski
5 stars – ☆☆☆
☆☆

Oh, Bukowski. How I love that man. This month I read two of his poetry collections which were published (at his request) posthumously and they’re some of the best poetry collections I’ve ever read. Book 2 in particular was my favourite, it was impeccable. Bukowski is an excellent writer, a true genius if you ask me, one of a kind. All of these modern-day poets need not try, they will never be as good as Bukowski. Compared to some of the poetry everyone seems to lavish in and praise these days (Amanda Lovelace & Rupi Kaur I’m looking at you) they just don’t even come close to the poetry of Bukowski. That’s what poetry is, or more so, what it should be. Bukowski makes me want to be a writer, a real one, and just write for the hell of it because I’m not made for anything else. I am obsessed with his work.

Sunset – Jessie Cave
5/5 Stars
☆☆☆☆☆

So…this book. This book is about Ruth and Hannah. Ruth and Hannah are sisters, with Hannah being the oldest by about 4 years. Ruth and Hannah are best friends and love each other very much. Hannah is a wonderful, wonderful person, beautiful, smart and incredibly popular with lots of friends because it’s impossible not to like her. Ruth is more the opposite, a lot more reserved and she doesn’t like many people, apart from Hannah. She loves Hannah. Hannah looks after Ruth because that’s the way it’s always been, and every year she takes them both on holiday, all expenses paid for by Hannah.

On this particular holiday, something happens that changes Ruth’s life forever, and she will never be the same. This story is about that, and it broke me and rebuilt me in a lot of ways, but it was beautiful. Like even though there were cracks, it was beautiful because it meant the light could get in. I’ll post my Goodreads review here and leave it at that, because there’s not much more I can say.

“astounding.

this book hurt and i knew it would, i took my time with it because it was hard for me. jessie cave made me feel seen, in a way that hardly anyone does when it comes to grief, because no one really understands what the fuck it feels like or what you’re going through. jessie cave came very close to that for me.

i love ruth because i am ruth. she was angry and careless and i loved that about her because that’s what losing your sister feels like. you want to scream at the fucking world and you hate everyone else who’s alive in it because your sister isn’t, and why is that fair.

“I look at the photo – that was my sister. I look at the photo – I can’t even believe that I had a sister. I look at the photo – I had a sister. I had a sister.”

“I think of how funny she found me. How sad she’d be for me.”

thank you jessie cave for breaking my heart and putting it back together and for acknowledging the pain and the inexplicable grief that has rendered me speechless at times over the years. you wrote something only people like me can understand, and for that i am forever grateful. thank you.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni-Eddo Lodge
3/5 Stars
☆☆☆

I’ve not too much to say about this other than I’m definitely in the minority here with my rating of it, as most people (on Goodreads) rated it 4 or 5 stars, with anything less few and far between. I however found this book very dense and information heavy, which I know is the point, but for me it was just information and data after data and statistics after statistics and it was a bit overwhelming for me and so it wasn’t a smooth read – I had to re-read parts multiple times because I kept losing track of what was what. One thing I will say about this book that I enjoyed was the fact it was talking about racism in the UK, which is where I’m from. All race-related material I’ve read thus far has I’m sure been all American, and so to read something that focused solely on racism within the UK was helpful and eye opening. Not the best book I’ve read on racism due to how difficult I found it at times to keep up, but an important one nonetheless and I’d recommend people to add it to their lists.

And there we have it loves, let me know if you’ve read any of these!

All my love,

Chloe .xx

Goodreads – ChloLuna

2 thoughts on “July Book Reviews

  1. Great post lovely ❤️. I love Rupi Kaur but I know that modern poets are soooo different than it used to be. I have to read those books from Charles Bukowski. In Spain there are also amazing poets and it’s definitely something different than what’s now. I also want to read Sunset. Sounds like a beautiful book! And hell yeah for a Year of rest and relaxation. I join you 🙏💙. Sounds like an interesting book. I had to laugh with your first review of the book from Sarah Wilson because some self help books are really like so dumb. It tells you the same story over and over 🤣.

    Liked by 1 person

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