Books Read (But Not Reviewed) in June 2016

Cover image Very little was read (but not reviewed) this month. There was far too much going on in my part of the world, consuming almost all my attention. The first part of the month was taken up with obsessively checking the polls on whether the UK was likely to leave the EU or not. The latter part was spent even more obsessively scanning social media and listening to the news in the hope that someone had a way out, or at least some sort of plan. It seems my country has cut off its nose to spite its face and has nothing to fill the gaping wound that’s been left. So, only two books to report on beginning with a thoroughly engrossing piece of non-fiction.

If you’re nosy like me (no pun intended) you’ll probably enjoy Joanna Biggs All Day Long which looks at all sorts of ways people earn their living – from cleaners to dancers, rabbis to shoemakers – taking in a few more off the wall or controversial occupations such as giggle doctor and sex worker along the way. Made up of interviews with a wide range of employees, self-employed, volunteers and the reluctantly unemployed, Biggs’ book is sometimes funny, sometimes touching, always interesting. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy most of my working life but I’ve also spent time doing a wide range of scuzzy jobs – some grubby, some menial, others utterly tedious and soul-destroying. It’s something that everyone should do. I’ve never forgotten the people who were kind to me when I was a naive, uselessly impractical student working at something deadly dull but safe in the knowledge that I’d be out of it in a few weeks while they faced a lifetime of it. And I always remember them when I vote.

The novel I read intermittently through the last two weeks of the month was Elizabeth H. Cover image Winthrop’s The Why of Things. The ‘H’ is important – there’s another Elizabeth Winthrop who is a prolific writer of children’s books.  A family from Maryland visit their summer home in Massachusetts only to find that someone has driven a car into the water-filled quarry in its grounds. Sadly, the driver – a young man – has died and the general consensus is that it’s a suicide. As the novel progresses, each member of the family dealing with what has happened in their different ways, it becomes clear that it is not the upset of the death of the young man they are trying to cope with but a far greater loss.  It’s a perceptive, compassionate piece of fiction – well worth your time – and deserved better attention that it got from me, I’m afraid, distracted as I was.

That’s it for June. Hoping for better times next month, or perhaps a miracle.

7 thoughts on “Books Read (But Not Reviewed) in June 2016”

  1. The Joanna Biggs has been on my radar for a while so I’m pleased it’s a good read. Love your comment about the jobs you did. (Loads of shop work for me.)

    The Winthrop I wouldn’t have even considered (awful cover, call me judgemental…) but you’ve left me intrigued…

    1. Susan Osborne

      If I was in charge of the country, I’d institute a year’s national service in which everyone would have to do a selection of scuzzy jobs, including dealing with the general public. I’m sure we’d all be much nicer to each other as a result.

      It is an awful cover. Made worse by the printed-on, sticker effect, mention of her previous novel.

      1. Great idea. Someone, on discovering I was a teacher, once suggested to me that everyone should do a year’s teaching in an inner-city school. I reckon that’s two year’s national service sorted!

        Always enjoy your comments on covers; someone should hire you to do feedback during the design process.

        1. Susan Osborne

          Ha! It’s an old bookseller bugbear of mine.

          High time that we were put in charge of the country, and I hear there’s a vacancy coming up soon.

  2. All Day Long sounds right up my street, I’ll have to put that on my list. Thanks. As always, your blog is murder on my bank balance (but always a pleasure to read) 😀

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