January reading round-up

Cover of Semiosis which features the tendril of a fern against a black background

Sue Burke, Semiosis (2018)

The first book finished in 2020 looks set to be one of my favourites this year. I’m not going to say too much because I’ve got a proper post in the pipeline, but I loved this eco sci-fi story about humans trying to establish a colony on an alien world and their relationships with the beings that live there. Told through the interlinked narratives of different characters over seven generations, Semiosis is an exciting and satisfying read.

The cover of this edition of The Hobbit features a stylised painting of mountains with a red sun in the background

JRR Tolkein, The Hobbit (1937)

I hadn’t read The Hobbit for years. I picked it up when I was looking for a comfort read in the aftermath of the UK general election. I enjoyed it, but I had forgotten what a children’s book it is and I felt I should be reading it out loud to an eight year-old. Enjoyable enough, but it does go on a bit!

The cover of Melmoth features a gold embossed pattern against a black background

Sarah Perry, Melmoth (2018)

As a fan of gothic fiction, I was looking forward to this one, especially since I seem to be one of the few people who has read Maturin’s 1820 shocker, Melmoth the Wanderer. In Maturin’s novel, Melmoth has sold his soul to the Devil and spends the next 150 years trying to find someone who is in such a depth of despair that they will agree to take on his burden. In Sarah Perry’s version, Melmoth is the woman who denied meeting Christ after the resurrection. In punishment, she is damned to wander the Earth alone until Judgement Day. The legends says that in her loneliness, she seeks out people who are racked with guilt and who she may be able to persuade to join her. Patched together from different texts, but centering on the story of Helen Franklin, a woman who’s entire life is dominated by her guilt, Melmoth is is a beautifully written, creepy and extremely clever book. But I have to say, it left me a little cold. Too clever perhaps.

The cover of A Dying Fall features a figure wearing a red scarf standing on a beach and looking out to sea

Elly Griffiths, A Dying Fall (2013)

Elly Griffith’s Ruth Galloway series has been one of my comfort reads over the last few months. Apart from being an expert on bones, Ruth is an endearingly ordinary woman and her life is a bit of a mess. She and her oddball friends stumble into various murder mysteries and just sort of poke around until the murderer is revealed. The endings are ridiculously dramatic and it’s usually all good fun. Without revealing too much, though, I was really disappointed to find a well-worn transphobic trope waiting for me at the end of this one, so be warned if that isn’t something you want to deal with.

Rolling over to next month

I’m still reading Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski (very helpful).

I’m reading Nalo Hopkinson’s collection, Falling in Love with Hominids, which is excellent but the stories are very intense, so I’m taking it slow!

I started Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly and have been tearing through this one over the last few days. It’s so much fun.

I’m still slowly re-reading Jane Eyre.

One thought on “January reading round-up

  1. The excellent FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS is a lovable collection - Tachyon Publications

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