Come catch up with me and take a look at what I read this past month as well as what’s coming up for next month’s goals and events.
In April I got serious about making some serious progress on my list of 30 books to read before turning 30. I haven’t got much time left! Therefore, most of what I read this month (and most of what I’ll be reading in the next two months) was from that list.
April 2018 Reads:
- Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
- Persuasion, Jane Austen
- Siddhartha, Herman Hesse
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
- The Secret History, Donna Tartt
- Tyranno le Terrible, Hans Wilhelm
- Hellblazer Vol. 2, The Devil You Know, Jamie Delano & David Lloyd
- The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
- In Cold Blood, Truman Capote (started)
This was an AMAZING month of reading for me. I either liked or loved everything I read! If I had to select one favorite though, I think it would have to be The Secret History. Here is why. It is the type of book that I would describe as masterful. What does that mean? Generally, it means that it accomplished a lot of different things for me without making any of it too obvious. The atmosphere was decadent and beautiful. The story was dark and mysterious and didn’t apologize for being either. It expected a lot of the reader without being inaccessible. It made me think about human nature, about the faces we present to the world, about death and what is normal. I thought about ritual and love and deception and so, so much more.
However, what I found most satisfying about this book can be summed up in one word: intertextuality. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s more or less what it sounds like: The relationship between literary texts that informs the reader’s experience beyond what just the current text would on its own. Typically, this means a book makes references to another work (often a well-known classic) either by title or by borrowing names, ideas or other elements of the story. I don’t know if I could ever really pick a favorite thing about reading, but if pressed, intertextuality would be it. The Secret History is rife with literary references to outside texts and I loved every second of that. The ones I was familiar with acted like a key, letting me further into the story. The ones I didn’t made me curious to learn more about them or read them.
Not only did I enjoy everything I read, but I read four books which will probably be added to my list of all-time favorites! Besides The Secret History, that includes: The Master and Margarita, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Persuasion. I am not overly surprised to see such a concentration of new favorites in one month, actually. As I mentioned I’ve been reading mostly from my 30×30 list and I created that list knowing many of them were likely to become very dear to me. I would absolutely recommend all of those four books to anyone who hasn’t read them. If you are creating a similar list of your own, strongly consider putting these on it!
April marked the first month of the Cask & Quill book club! I wanted to invite others to join me for the tail end of my journey reading these 30 books before turning 30. Hosting an online readalong seemed like the best way! I picked out The Bell Jar for the first book, figuring that’d be a good one to discuss. I was not wrong! We had a great time reading and sharing thoughts about the book over on the Goodreads group.
A totally new thing I tried this month was reading a book in another language! I have been using the app Duolingo to teach myself a bit of French here and there for a while. World Book Day was Monday, April 23 and even though it had been a while since I’d studied, I decided to try to read a children’s book in French for the occasion. It was really fun! I found an online PDF of Tyranno le Terrible, a picture book. It took me a while and I had to look up a fair amount of unfamiliar words, but I finished the whole thing! I also found a website with a few children’s fairy tales in French and read both the story of “Les Trois Petits Cochons” (“The Three Little Pigs”) and Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (“Little Red Riding Hood”). If you have been messing around with Duolingo or learning a new language, I encourage you to try out reading a simple children’s book or a familiar fairy tale! You might have to work really hard at it, but it’s a fun way to learn new words.
Since The Bell Jar ended up being such a fun experience, I decided to keep the book club going for May as well with a new book off of my 30×30 list. An Instagram poll showed me that people would like to read 1984 with me this time, so that’s what we’re doing in May! I’m really looking forward to getting started with this one and anticipate more compelling discussion. If you’d like to join us, you can visit the Cask & Quill Goodreads group or see the May book announcement post for more information!
What was the best thing you read in April? Anything you’re especially looking forward to in May?