April Bookclub

Welcome to the April Bookclub! Every month I let you know what I read, how I liked it (or didn’t), and also show you some of the books I want to read next month.

I know, this post is about two weeks late, but life and stuff! Better late than never??

Due to the nature of this type of post, there may be some spoilers in my reviews, so read on with caution. Generally, I will give a brief overview of what the book is like (much like a back cover would), but I won’t give away major plot points and such. I will always warn you if I ever do, though!

What I read in April

Taking Charge of Anger: 6 Steps to Asserting Yourself without Losing Control by W. Robert Nay, PhD

Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t finish this book. It’s not that the content was bad, I just wasn’t feeling the way it was delivered. Despite that, it’s definitely a useful read for the angry person, or if you just want to learn how to manage your feelings better. Nay talks about how anger is generally caused by having expectations about a situation (internal or external) or person (ourselves or others), and those expectations not being met. Often, our expectations are impossible to meet – people are really good at  having unreasonable, perfection-focussed expectations of themselves, others and events. He goes on to teach readers how to recognised their own causes  of anger (the kinds of expectations you have), how to recognise warning signs and triggers, and then how to deal with it better. I didn’t get much into the latter part of the book, which went into dispute resolution and other ways of effectively communicating with people.

4/5 for good content, 2/5 for writing style.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

For April’s Jane Austen book club, we read this classic! Oh man, that was a fun group discussion, too. Being P&P, everyone had something to say about it. And, of course, we diverged a little into comparisons with the various movie and television adaptations.

As I mentioned last month, I’ve read this book many times over the last 12 or 13 years (wow, I feel old…), so it’s nothing new, but every time I read it, I have different thoughts and feelings. For example, this time, I found Lizzie to be a tad annoying at times. I used to, perhaps blindly, adore her as the heroine. This time, I kind of wanted to slap her and tell her to stop being such a judgemental, snooty, cow (albeit, one that was quite humorous at times). I would also tell her that just because a man is as charming as Wickham, doesn’t mean he’s at all trustworthy; and just because a man is reserved and conversationally challenged like Darcy, doesn’t mean he’s totally a rude toff with no value.

Sometimes I think the only character with any real sense in the book is Charlotte! She knows her situation and what the society she lives in is like. She knows marriage is her best chance at having a life that is at least semi-comfortable, and so she goes for it. She might have married a complete doofus, but she’s intelligent enough to know how to handle him in a way that means she gets to live her life more or less how she wants to. Obviously, I’m very pleased that nowadays we don’t have to get married,  we can be single and lead full lives, but in Austen’s time that wasn’t so and I think Charlotte’s practicality around that is quite admirable.

4/5

The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills by Joanna Pearson

This is a quick young adult read and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Janice Wills lived in small-town USA south and doesn’t fit it. Her interest in anthropology has led her to ‘study’ her peers through a critical (and at times downright mean) eye. The story follows her as she learns some valuable lessons about herself and her town during a coming-of-age tradition. I haven’t read a YA novel in a while but reading this has reminded me that I totally need to do it more often.

4/5

A 1950s Housewife by Sheila Hardy

This book was so fascinating! It’s a look at what it was like to be a housewife in 1950s England. You either look back on that time and think it seemed awful,  great or maybe a bit of both. There are some things I’ve always found appealing about the 1950s: fashion, doing food shopping more regularly and in smaller amounts (so, fresher produce, etc.), the general style of everything, and manners. Lots of aspects are far less appealing: gender inequality, more pronounced/socially acceptable racism and classism, no internet. Hardy takes us on a journey through what life was like for the typical 1950s young woman, from schooling to work, dating, getting engaged and married, the honeymoon, homemaking, working after marriage, and a little bit about 1950s sex lives. She interviewed many women who were housewives during the decade and includes lots of first-hand accounts of these stages. You get quite a good picture of how it was back then. It strips away some of the romanticism that I think people tend to attach to that time while also demonstrating that it wasn’t all unequal. Women didn’t have to do everything around the house and many couples operated under a far more equal marriage that people might assume.

5/5

What I want to read in May

The Mothers by Jennifer Gilmore

Another book club read. It’s about a couple’s journey through adoption.

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

I’ve been meaning to read this for ages and I’ve seen loads of very mixed reviews, so I’m interested to see how I find it.

Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween by Lisa Morton

Despite being New Zealand-born and raised, I have always been a bit nuts for Halloween and feel strongly that my country is missing out on a lot of fun. Now to learn more about the hows and whys of this spooky holiday!

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

The third book for the Jane Austen book club. I’ve read it before but not in a long time. I can’t really remember the story much, so we’ll see how it goes.

What are you reading at the moment?

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