Books I’ve Read in 2019 (So Far)

2019 book review Rebecca Spelman

(I’m going to be updating this article after I finish each book, so make sure to check back every so often for more reviews!)

1. The Year of the Hare – Arto Paasilinna

My copy of this book had been on quite a journey before it came to me, according to the stamps and scribbles inside its front cover. It’s only when I started to read did I realise how fitting this was. The Year of the Hare follows a man named Vatanen, who ends up on the side of a road with nothing but a suitcase and an injured hare. Frustrated with how his life has been until now, he decides to start again. The book follows this unlikely duo as they travel around Finland, having adventures and living life one day at a time.
★ ★ ★



2. The Oberon Anthology of Contemporary Irish Plays

I make a lot of theatre, so I’m always trying to get my hands on new plays to read. I was given this book for Christmas, and really enjoyed the opportunity to become more familiar with modern Irish theatre. The book features HEROIN by Grace Dyas; Trade by Mark O’Halloran; The Art of Swimming by Lynda Radley; Pineapple by Phillip McMahon; The Big Deal by Una McKevitt; Oedipus Loves You by Simon Doyle and Gavin Quinn; The Year of Magical Wanking by Neil Watkins; I (Heart) Alice (Heart) I by Amy Conroy. 
★ ★ ★ ★

3. Mr. Salary – Sally Rooney

I was hearing a lot of good things about Sally Rooney around this time, particularly about her latest novel, Normal People. I haven’t read that, and only ended up reading this short story of hers because someone left it in my house. I found it pretty underwhelming, to be honest. It read like bad fanfiction- a young woman who happens to be close with an older, attractive man in a way that would never happen in real life. There’s sexual tension, it builds throughout the entire story, and then suddenly they’ve slept together and the story’s over. Like I said, underwhelming.
★ ★

4. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

I read this because someone asked me if I’d read Sense and Sensibility before, I said no, and they said I absolutely must. About halfway through the first chapter, I realised I actually have read this before. That makes it sound like this book is really forgettable, but it’s actually an enjoyable classic read. The story is about two sisters, Eleanor, and Marianne. One has sense, one has sensibility. Crazy, I know! It’s what you’d expect from an Austen novel- English countryside, romance, and gossip. It doesn’t beat Pride and Prejudice in my opinion, but it’s still very enjoyable.
★ ★ ★ ★

5. The Stepford Wives – Ira Levin

The Stepford Wives is one of those books you always hear about and tell yourself you’ll read. I finally got around to it, and it was brilliant. Despite being written in the ’70s, this story of a housewife trying to figure out the strange goings-on in her strangely perfect neighbourhood is gripping and modern.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

6. The Story of Lucy Gault – William Trevor

During the Irish Civil War, some local men come to the local big house in a Cork village to scare its rich inhabitants into fleeing. The owner of the house, Captain Gault, shoots one of the men in the arm, starting a chain of events that would change the lives of the entire Gault family. The Story of Lucy Gault shows most of the 20th century in Ireland through the eyes of its protagonist, cataloguing a melancholy life that had so many opportunities to go differently. While it isn’t the most upbeat of books, the kindness of its characters makes it a touching read.
★ ★ ★ ★

7. #GIRLBOSS – Sophia Amoruso

As someone in the early stages of running my own business, this book was given to me as a source of inspiration. I’ve been a fan of Sophia Amoruso, the founder of NastyGal and Girlboss Media, for a while now. This book is half-autobiography, half-motivational guide. I’m not sure how interesting it would be to someone who isn’t familiar with Sophia Amoruso, but I found it uplifting.
★ ★ ★

8. Marketing on a Beermat – Chris West

This book was originally published in 2008 and while I’m sure it was a useful resource at the time, it’s in need of an update. Its approach to online marketing hasn’t aged well, and it mentions some resources that can’t be found any more. I understand that books like this don’t always age well, so I think all it would take is for a revised edition to be brought out. I will say though, the beermat concept the title uses is never referred to in the book.
★ ★

9. Lolita – Vladimir Nabrokov

This is a brilliant book on a horrible subject. At multiple points, I found myself feeling conflicted about whether or not I could allow myself to enjoy it because of its subject (spoiler alert: it features a lot of paedophilia). Despite that, it’s a gripping read and I would highly recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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