What I’ve been reading: May

Finding the time to read has been tricky in the past few months, so this month I thought I’d make a concerted effort to get back into it. It’s been pretty slow-going this month, not least because I lost my book for a good week (it turned up in the kitchen amongst the recipe books, if you were wondering). Here’s what I’ve been reading this month, and what I thought.

East of Eden – John Steinbeck

If you’re going to review books, why not start with the classics, right? Since reading “Of Mice and Men” for GCSEs back in the day, John Steinbeck has been my absolute favourite and go-to author. Whilst I’ve read a ton of his books, “East of Eden” and “The Grapes of Wrath”, the two bigguns, have been on my to-read list for forever. Suffice to say, as a Steinbeck super-fan it obviously didn’t disappoint.  Like a lot of his novels, Steinbeck’s plot twists and turns through intertwined, sort-of-separate, but very much connected plots. Rather than being confusing, though, this allows for incredibly deep insight into the characters and their psychology, as well as providing a, sometimes scathing, representation of Steinbeck’s California. That being said, my favourite thing about all his books is his minute attention to detail which conjures up stunning landscapes and nature scenes, which makes me feel like I’m there (and feeling like you’re in California is never a bad thing, in my opinion). “Cannery Row” is still my favourite Steinbeck, but East of Eden is definitely up there.

The Magus – John Fowles

This one was a birthday present from my dad and it’s taken me a while to get round to reading it. I’d never even heard of John Fowles before, so I was intrigued to discover what my dad assured me was a modern classic.  This novel starts really slowly, but I think it’s meant to. Thankfully, I stuck with it. Fowles puts the reader well and truly in the shoes of the narrator, Nicholas, and does so incredibly well; I think I felt every emotion from boredom to fear and scepticism to fascination just as poignantly as the narrator himself, and I definitely felt myself getting equally as confused about reality. Without giving away any spoilers, the plot is deeply psychological, and there is so much symbolism going on; a treat for my English Literature degree mind and definitely worth a read for anyone interested in characters/ humans/ the weird and wonderful workings of brains.

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