Monday, 4 September 2017

Books, books, books: 3 recent reads

I have been reading an awful lot recently, so I thought it would be a nice idea to incorporate this into the re-brand of my blog. Each month (or maybe even more frequently than that!) I'd like to pick three books I've recently read, and just have a little chat about them.

This month we've got a mixed bag; from existentialism to contemporary art to speculative feminism. Let's get on with it:

1. Albert Camus - The Outsider (Translated by Sandra Smith)

This book was one of my father's favourites. He both read it and taught it, and was able to discuss its nuances for hours. For some reason, I've only just read it. At home the only version we have is in Camus' original French, which I am able to read with some help from a dictionary. To make life easier, I've also bought myself the Penguin translated version, which will help me a lot when I eventaully come back to read the original text.

This book is short, very gripping, and can easily be read in one sitting. What struck me about it is its intense sensory landscape, and how this is juxtaposed with the complete indifference and detachment of the protagonist from his own life and society's mechanisms at large. Meursault appears to be intensely interested in everything life presents to him, down to the minute intricacies, yet somehow remains apathetic towards the everyday in a way that verges on the absurd.

It's a book full of beautiful imagery and is food for philosophical contemplation - definitely worth giving up a few hours for.

2. Ana Benaroya - Illustration Next: Contemporary Creative Collaboration 

This book was a treat to myself, from myself. It's a collection of work from 50 illustrators, all practising now across the world. It contains interviews with all 50 artists, alongside full colour spreads of their work. There's a real mix in this book, and it's a pleasure to flick through. I've found a few new favourites thanks to this book! Interestingly, Benaroya turned this project in to a collaborative one, pairing up the artists and giving them each a word as inspiration. Through doing this, she unearths and disrupts their creative practices, giving both artist and reader food for thought.

It's a fabulous, inspiring book which places illustration where it should be - at the forefront of contemporary artistic practice. 

3. Naomi Alderman - The Power

The bookseller at my local Waterstone's recommended this to me when I was purchasing Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. He described it as 'feminist sci-fi', and a story involving girls suddenly developing lethal electrical 'skeins' couldn't really be described as anything else. It asks questions about what life would be like if women had physical power over men, as well as playing around with theories of power at large. It's a fun little ride, and although I can see how the feminism could be seen as flawed in some places, it's an interesting piece of speculative fiction nonetheless.

Have you read any of these books? Let me know!

Elly xxx

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