The second half of January saw me do something I have never before felt comfortable doing during my reading journey – I DNFd a book. In the past, I have struggled so intensely with the concept of not finishing books, that I simply have refused to do it. However, this year I felt I needed to be honest with myself, and accept that some books are not going to be for me. The book that prompted this decision was American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. I read around fifty pages before seeing a number of negative reviews from individuals in the Latinx community saying it contains some damaging racial stereotypes and is not in fact own voices. This annoyed me, as there are plenty of authors who could write about the experiences explored in the book more authentically, but the publishers chose to pay a white woman to do it instead, thus depriving someone of the chance to tell their story.
Another book I really ought to have DNFd was A History of the World in 21 Women by Jenni Murray. You can see my full review here but to summarise, the book is poorly written and reduces women to their physical appearances and I struggled through it. I wouldn’t recommend this book, nor would I ever pick anything by this author up again in the future.
The Book of Colour by Julia Blackburn was part of my reading past women’s prizes project, and I thought it was good, but had some issues. My full review can be found here and if you would like more information about the project in general, you can look here. I have a couple more reviews for this project coming up on my blog shortly, so keep your eyes out for those if you’re interested.
Unfortunately, I had no five star reads in the second half of January, but I did read two books that I rated four stars. Surprisingly, both of these books were young adult, which is surprising, only because I don’t tend to read a great deal of young adult normally. The Wicked King probably isn’t a four star read in terms of technical ability, but in terms of enjoyment, it’s definitely up there, I’ve not had as much fun reading a series as I have with the Folk of the Air trilogy, in a long time! There is a good amount of character development and the political intrigue is just enough to make it interesting without being overbearing and complicated. I’m excited to read the concluding volume in the trilogy, The Queen of Nothing, as soon as I am able to get my hands on it.
My favourite read for the second half of the month was The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan. Although the writing was sometimes quite simple, the content matter was informative and important. Rukhsana finds herself torn between staying true to herself and her sexuality, and pleasing her parents who are strict Muslims, all whilst attempting to maintain good grades and her friendships. There are some extremely distressing scenes, and it opens up the discussion about religion and sexuality, along with forced marriages. I will have a full review up in the coming days, if you’re interested, but I definitely recommend this book.