On My Bookshelf... January & February

Spring is the time of new beginnings. As such, I've decided to venture into one of my own with a new feature! Ladies and (non-existent) gentlemen, let me introduce you to 'On My Bookshelf...'!

I love a book post. One: because I love books. Two: because I'm nosy. Hooray for the subtleties of other people's lives! Ever since I finished my Masters degree I've been reading books and magazines from lots of different periods and contexts. Don't get me wrong, I love a fainting damsel as much as the next lady, but I've moved on to modern books. Yes, ones set after 1850! It's been fab and I'd love to share them with you.

This feature will run bi-monthly and will contain a short summary of what I've loved (or not loved) reading for the previous two months. Exciting times! Without further delay, here's what's 'On My Bookshelf' from January and February...

N-W // Zadie Smith

Does anybody else read books that are set in places you are soon to be or soon to experience? I always find that reading about a place through fiction is a far better indicator of perspective than any photograph or film. I bought N-W before I moved to London. And also because I was embarrassed that I'd never read any Zadie Smith...

N-W is a delicately raw book, but it took me a while to get into. The story flits between main characters Leah, Tom and Natalie, which confused me a little to begin with as I felt the narrative was quite disjointed, however Smith's writing was enough to keep me pushing forward. The novel relies heavily on location (Willesden) and confidently deals with the intricacies of working class life and immigrant Londoners in a way that I found unique and refreshing. Zadie Smith writes people well, and some of the characters were so vivid I felt like I was sat behind them on the bus. It's definitely made me keen to read her more!

Snug Rating: 7/10

Tender is the Night // F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ever since I read The Great Gatsby two summers ago, I knew I wanted to read more Fitzgerald. British television has an obsession with the 20's at the moment, with Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge and Indian Summers giving us our fair share of finger waves and beaded flapper gowns - and yet I wasn't satisfied! I picked up Tender is the Night a while ago, only to let it fall by the wayside soon after starting. Tip: Have a good 2-3 hour reading session when you start this one, it's not a book to read in a 'bit-by-bit' fashion!

The novel is complex and drawn out, but I felt almost as though I was reading two separate stories. The first half focuses on the young, naive actress Rosalie and charts her rise to stardom in 'moving pictures', yet she slips out of focus and is replaced by Dick Diver (I laughed every time I read his name), a showy doctor of psychiatry with a troubled wife. There are some beautiful phrases in the novel, but it wasn't a completed manuscript of Fitzgerald's and you can sort of tell. Read it for it's fantastic depiction of early mental health care and thank your lucky stars that things have changed since then!

Snug Rating: 6/10

The Opposite of Loneliness // Marina Keegan

This book will be discussed in the Bloggers Book Club in a few weeks time, so I bought it in advance and then discovered after two pages that I had to read it all straight away. I near enough ran out of the office each lunch time so that I could get through a few more essays or short stories. Marina Keegan's writing career is rich and varied but was cut horribly short. Soon after graduating, Marina died in horribly tragic car accident, which pushed me to furiously blink away tears a few pages into the beautifully written introduction - unusual for me as I rarely cry when reading.

The book is a collection of essays, non-fiction, fiction and articles, each a resounding testament to her talent as a writer. Marina's writing is refreshing and genuine. She writes in a way that makes you feel at once jealous and indebted. I felt like her voice was in part my voice. I wish I'd had a Marina in my creative writing classes at university - I perhaps wouldn't have resented the pretentiousness of my peers so much. The introduction brilliantly states that most young writers 'are articulate but derivative, their own voices muffled by their desire to skip over their current age and experience'. I get this. I get it. This is why you should read Marina. She's not like that.

Snug Rating: 9/10

Oh Comely

Oh, how I love this magazine! I discovered Oh Comely at Dublin International Airport, where myself and my friend openly laughed because it's contents were so in line with the things we loved and wanted to read about. It's like someone scooped out my brain, packaged it with tidy words and poured it over the pages of this magazine.

It's got gorgeous, understated images; inebriated; glowing; full of life. It's got interviews with interesting women from around the world who are unashamedly passionate and beautifully diverse. It's simple in its elegance and is a comfortable read in the most complimentary way possible. It's refreshing to see strong, creative and diverse content in a magazine - it sure beats celebrity tummy tucks and Kim Kardashian's Gucci-clad toddler! Spend an afternoon outside in a blanket with a cup of tea and this open on your lap. Absolutely worth the £4.50! You can also buy a discounted subscription here.

Snug Rating: 10/10

In My Blog Feed...

Wanderlist : 15 Things to Do in London by Tea Was Here

5 Tips to Help Aid Sleep by Daydreams of Summertime

My Norfolk Bucket List by Sunny Sweet Pea

History in Pictures with Luci Gosling by The What Now Blog

Do I Have Some News for You by Rhyme and Ribbons

What have you loved reading in January and February? I'm talking books, blog posts, articles, essays, anything!

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