Let’s see if I can remember what I read recently. The bookshelves are all full, so recently read books disappear wherever I can cram them into the shelves and I haven’t been keeping proper track.
Invisible Women – Caroline Criado Perez. Won various prizes last year, including from the FT. The main thesis is that women are comprehensively overlooked in all sorts of significant ways, from designing transport systems to basic health care, because of an historic, current and probably depressingly eternal lack of data. In effect, by stupidly deciding not to be men, women make data gathering too hard! Sooooo complex! It’s nooooot faiiiirrrrr, why are you so different and weird and icky? So the mens go on deciding not to bother, and thus creating data structures that handily reinforce their existing worldview and incidentally, kill women. Nice. Obvs any women who call this out get ignored, threatened, fired, or murdered.
All women should read this, and then let’s smash the patriarchy and menstruate on its shattered bones.
Magpie Lane – Lucy Atkins. No word of a lie, I got this because it’s set in Oxford and I know where Magpie Lane is and it used to be called Grope Cunt Lane. Well, it probably didn’t have a properly capitalised street sign but that’s what it was known as. I do love old place names that tell it how it is. Anyway, this is a mystery with my old fave, the unreliable narrator. She is called Dee, and she goes to be a nanny to the neglected daughter of a media mogul-turned-head-of -Oxford-college and his very un-Oxford Danish wife. The daughter has selective mutism and an interest in animal bones.
Clearly loads to play with there. Whose fault is it when the daughter disappears? That bit is actually no real surprise at all, but it’s interesting parsing the narrative for how unreliable you think Dee really is versus how much she’s reframing to present herself in the best light.
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte. The National Theatre is streaming weekly plays at the moment, so I watched Jane Eyre. Didn’t love it, decided to re-read the novel as well. Didn’t love that either. On the one hand, I do think it’s a classic for good reason. On the other hand, I have a problem with Rochester. He’s basically just a right bastard, as arrogant in his belief that because he loves Jane he has the right to throw convention away as St John Rivers is in believing that his love for God allows him to mow down any obstacle in his path. Jane’s annoying but she could still do better.
Big Sky – Kate Atkins. The latest Jackson Brodie novel, kindly sent by Blackwells. I haven’t read any of the other Brodie novels, and I’m not tempted to go back to them. I think I’m missing something, because this was a perfectly pleasant read but nothing special. I think it’s supposed to be darkly comic? And Brodie is supposed to be not hugely effective, except by happenstance? I don’t know. It was fine.
Various Jack Reachers – Lee Child. They’re comforting to dip back into, so I chain read three of them. Bad shit happened, Reacher kicked ass. I’m vaguely wondering if one could put together a thesis positing Reacher as a modern day combination of Ajax and Odysseus. The evolution of the hero to have brains and brawn, with reference to Sophocles’ Ajax. I mean of course, one could, but would it stack up beyond a bit of playful thinking? Bet it’s been done.
Another Man’s Moccasins – Craig Johnson. This is vol 4 in the Walt Longmire series, which I think has been turned into a TV series I won’t watch because TV is hard. And boring. There’s a murdered Vietnamese girl, a homeless, ex-con Indian and a backstory set in Vietnam when Walt was serving. It’s all very deadpan and practical, without over the top violence, and Walt is a good guy. I might have to make this the next series that I work my way through, and I started looking up Wyoming as a holiday destination.
I have more Reachers on the way, because I listened to some of them and therefore have gaps amongst the paperbacks. So I’ll re-read those when they arrive. And I finally watched an entire movie all the way through on Netflix, but only because it was The Breakfast Club. Then I ordered Pretty in Pink, St Elmo’s Fire and Say Anything.