When I planned what I was going to read this month, I initially only chose three books. One of those was a novel I had already began and was nearly half way through, another was a lighthearted romcom that I knew I’d fly through and the other was a book I’d been meaning to read for a while and I had it on good authority that I’d be gripped and finish it in a matter of days.
I had been having a hard time concentrating long enough to dedicate any time to reading in the weeks leading up to April and I hated the idea of committing to reading a number of books that I didn’t realistically think I’d be able to finish.
Do you have the same aversion to setting targets that you’re worried may be too high? Or do you find that setting ambitions targets merely spurs you on?
I don’t know why I worry about not meeting a target that I have set myself. No one, except myself, is going to be disappointed if I haven’t read every book on that month’s TBR list. No one is going to judge me for it and there certainly aren’t any dire consequences.
Really, it’s quite silly for me to feel any pressure. I’ll simply have to read the ones I didn’t get to the following month – it’s not the end of the world!
And yet I do feel pressure. So, here’s the modest list of books I initially aimed to read in April:
- The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern – 5/5
- The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – 4/5
- Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid – 4/5
I managed to finish all of these and even read a few others:
- Wild by Cheryl Strayed – 4/5
- Normal People by Sally Rooney – 3.5/5
- The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix – 4/5
So, I managed to read twice the number of books that I hoped to. As silly as it is to worry about such trivial things, the feeling of surpassing a reading target is rather nice. I’m sure many of you participate in the annual Goodreads Reading Challenge and are likely familiar with this particular brand of euphoria, like Runner’s High but only achieved after you’ve spent a long time sitting down. Perhaps that is the true reason I set low targets – just so I can beat them.
I have to say, it was a true relief to have my reading mojo back. I had suffered through a string of disappointing reads prior to my reading slump so I felt very fortunate to read six enjoyable books in a row this month.
The rest of The WBC Book Worms have also been flying through novels and have kindly let me share their thoughts with you here.
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
‘Like many, I studied this for A-Level English Literature but hadn’t read it since. I was glad to come back to it now. I read it in the sun over a couple of days and it was fun to see my teenage ramblings in the margins and even found myself analysing parts that my younger self had missed. The only problem was that reading about Gatsby’s parties whilst being stuck in isolation made me feel incredibly jealous!’
The Dreamers by Kate Thompson Walker
One day, in Southern California, a girl goes to sleep and doesn’t wake up. Then another does the same, and another. As panic spreads through the isolated town and cases multiply, a quarantine is established. The infected are displaying levels of brain activity higher than any ever recorded – what could they be dreaming of?
‘It was a very strange experience to read this book, about a viral pandemic, at this time. I wasn’t expecting my reaction to be so strong. Even though this is a good book, I found reading it to be a traumatic experience and I wouldn’t recommend picking this book up now or any time soon. Don’t write it off completely though!’
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
Jai lives in an expansive Indian city at the end of the Purple metro line. When one of his classmates disappears, he enlists his friends Pari and Faiz to help him search. Their hunt for the truth will take them to the most dangerous areas of the city and when other children begin to disappear, what started out as an exciting adventure turns sinister.
‘It’s amazing and evocative. Every sentence is a poem. I’m usually adverse to child narrators but it really lends itself to the story in this case. I highly recommend it!’
Grown Ups by Marian Keyes
Brothers John, Ed and Liam Casey, and their families, spend a lot of time together. Not just the obligatory birthday celebrations, but anniversaries and weekends away too. They’re a happy family. But, under a glamorous façade, the significantly murkier reality of the Casey family simmers. It boils over one day when Ed’s wife Cara gets concussion and starts spilling all their secrets.
‘Marian Keyes is an utter tonic. I guzzled this entire book in a day beneath my favourite blanket and it was glorious.’
Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton
‘If you’re a fan of historical fiction like me, then I really recommend this book! Velton immediately sucks you into an atmospheric 18th century London, where she explores the Huguenot silk weavers. In an era when silk is equal to gold, we meet Esther Thorel, wife of a master silk weaver.
One day, as Esther is handing out Bibles at the nearby poorer end of Spitalfields, she meets a young girl called Sara who is being harassed outside the brothel she works at. Esther charitably returns to help Sara and they develop an intense, uneasy relationship.
The novel focuses mainly on the two women and their secrets, ambition and betrayals. We also learn a lot about the silk trade at the time and the workers’ rights, which I found fascinating. This is due to Velton’s impressive research.
Overall, it was a sumptuously written debut novel, which I would rate 5/5. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton!’
All in all, it was a very successful reading month for the team! Hopefully we’ll have some more good titles to share in May. What was your top read of April?