Read in January

One of my goals this year is to read 52 books - for an English teacher, it should be easy but it's amazing how quickly life gets in the way. I did get a good start in January though, putting myself slightly ahead of one a week for the rest of the year!

1. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
An intriguing story involving a pornographer-turned-burn-victim with links to fourteenth century Germany. A story that has you going"Okay..." at the start but gripped at the end. Stopped my pity about my bad sunburn on holiday.

2. The Queen's Sorrow by Suzannah Dunn
The story of Queen Mary's ascension to the throne and marriage told through the eyes of a Spanish sun-dial maker brought to England. Not quite as sharply written as Phillipa Gregory but you get a real sense of character

3. Handle With Care - Jodi Picoult
A pretty challenging read - this novel deals with the issue of abortion and when a life becomes a life. It was a really insight into the American legal system (particularly into the field of suing for medical malpractice, something very difficult to do in NZ) and the value people place on different relationships. The parts of the novel written from the perspective of being a sibling of a person with severe disability resounded with me in totally unexpected ways.

4. Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
My parents brought me back this novel from Samoa (RLS's resting place) and I hadn't managed to set aside time to read it. Many of us know the pop culture story of this tale but reading the tale gave it extra depth for me. I hadn't realised that it was a short story - contained in the book were other short stories, almost all hinging around a thrilling, almost gothic feel.

5. The Lady and the Unicorn - Tracy Chevalier
An interesting piece of historical fiction that focused on the medieval craft of tapestry. I particularly liked the honesty of how the book dealt with the treatment of women at the time, it was honest without being over the top

6. Perfect Match - Jodi Picoult
Heavy read... what would you do to avenge the ones you love? Very serious subject matter - sexual abuse, legal rulings, DNA and the definition of insanity. A full-on read but one I would definitely recommend to those readers who are really looking for something that pushes their personal boundaries.

7. Birthday Girls - Annabel Giles
A "fluffier" read, a tale of six birthday girls that winds itself into a convoluted resolution at the end. A good chick lit read.

8. Island Beneath the Sea - Isabel Allende
Historical fiction again, this time focusing on an area I knew very little about (French Colonial Haiti). Interesting to hear a story from a slave perspective on plantation land when most of the historical fiction I have read focuses on slave owners. I was particularly intrigued by the way the book dealt with mulattos (mixed race) as an almost separate third race. Living in multi-cultural NZ (where mixed race is possibly more normal than coming from one cultural group) it was intriguing to read about a country so defined by colour of skin.

9. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
A classic - have read it before and loved it, found I was picking up more the second time around. Still getting minorly confused when characters are being addressed by their Russian patronomics, but managed to get it pretty clear this time :D

This book has saved my butt... she doesn't beat around the bush. A lot of things in this book are common sense but in saying that, I needed it. After almost ten years of disordered eating it is almost like I am teaching myself to be a "normal" person again. Would recommend to anyone who has woken up to a self far heavier than you thought and who needs to learn what "healthy" lifestyles look like.

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