#EmptyShelf19: January Reads

#EmptyShelf19: January Reads

So this month, I read the following:

With the End in Mind: Dying, Death, and Wisdom in an Age of DenialWith the End in Mind: Dying, Death, and Wisdom in an Age of Denial by Kathryn Mannix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book came recommended by the #YouMeBigC podcast, within their episode on ‘death’ (not passing on, etc), and also in Instagram @thecancerchrons reckoned it was one of the best books she’d ever read, so I downloaded it from the library!

I found it powerful, gentle, hard at times, and comedic at others. Considering I finished reading it the day before I was having a spinal biopsy to check for mets, a particularly challenging read, but within society we think that we can evade death, whereas, as people joke ‘death and taxes – can’t be avoided’ … and the more we avoid talking about it, the harder it gets – especially for those panicking about dying, and the family/friends around them who don’t know the wishes.

I’m part of a FB group on death and dying, tied to Uni Of Winchester MSc – having spoken at the conference about representations of death in WW2 propaganda posters – very limited on the home front, more drastic for the armed forces – and stayed in the group as I’m interested in how the digital (especially our footprint online) impacts our notions of death – I’m still Facebook friends with people who have died – some of whom have undertaken the official FB process of memorialisation, and others where family maintain access (or the account just lies dormant – except for birthday reminders) …

I may also look further at Death Cafe, and https://www.deathlife.org.uk/. I prepared my will a couple of years ago, and I’m planning on talking to a vicar friend about what I can do to sort for funeral, etc. Hopefully I won’t need them for many years, but hearing how another friend has been left trying to sort out a relatives muddled effects – being prepared does not equate with giving up!

BecomingBecoming by Michelle Obama
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading this. I’d listened to part of it on Audible, but I think I prefer to read – and then listen afterwards! Always a little wary about autobiographies because things are written with hindsight, but with that in mind … I’d be keen to read it again and pull out a few bits. Overall I really enjoyed it, learnt a lot about American politics, and from the public perception of the Obamas makes sense as to their real desire to make a difference and integrity, whilst giving some insights into the ‘reality’.

Illness As Metaphor; And, Aids And Its MetaphorsIllness As Metaphor; And, Aids And Its Metaphors by Susan Sontag
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was quite hard work to read, as most philosophically inspired texts can be – as it’s encouraging you to think differently. The book includes two papers by Sontag – one written in the late 1970s as a response to the cancer she has been diagnosed with, and another in the late 1980s as a response to the AIDS crisis. I can see where some of the comments I get about cancer come from now – and there’s also insights into perceptions of venereal diseases (which I’ve just written a paper on), and the current focus on diet and self management.

Lethal White (Cormoran Strike, #4)Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A friend told me this was worth a read – and I enjoyed it – I don’t know that I’d have guessed it was Rowling, as v different from the Potter books, but I was still guessing towards the end about how everything fitted together, and I think all the complicated strands just about fell into place. Unlikely to be re reading it, but enjoyed it!!

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, I enjoyed this one too (I’d already read the fourth one, not realising there were 3 before it). I had just been given a new secondary cancer diagnosis so wanted something entertaining but not too heavy, and it fitted the bill. I think with each book, the storylines tighten up a little … but maybe it’s also that I’m becoming more familiar with the characters.

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike, #2)The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, the discovery was a little gruesome, but the route to understanding who was the murderer, and why, was intriguing!

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3)Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The most gruesome yet, but also felt the most real in the storylines that it tackled. Really getting into the characters now – shame I’ve run out of the series to read – although I understand there may be 5 more in production!

The Mistletoe Murder and Other StoriesThe Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories by P.D. James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read quite a bit of detective fiction this week, with snow forecast, and having been given this Christmas 2017, I finally settled in to these over a few evenings. Enjoyed them – sometimes find short stories frustrating, but these were well constructed, and still a clever surprise as to ‘whodunnit’!

View all my reviews

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