We're somehow almost at the end of June which means three things: firstly that the August box goes on sale to newsletter subscribers tomorrow and the general public in two days, secondly that we'll soon be starting our first month of Indie Book Club (we picked a great book, check it out) and thirdly that 2017 is half over!
Personally, I'm currently in a struggle with how to keep track of my reading having given up my spreadsheet for being too labour intensive. I just got the LibraryThing app the other day so when we get to the end of the year I may have more reliable records than my bookshelves and my brain to rely on, but even with the faulty record keeping it's been a pretty brilliant year so far!
There is a tie for best book between Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge, a really affecting nonfiction book which was shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize and which documents every death of a child from gun violence over one 24 hour period, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas which is a novel about police brutality against the Black community and inspired by the foundation of the Black Lives Matter movement. Both books are really phenomenal - I'm still thinking about them both and will be for a while I'm sure. Younge's book made an impression because it's hardly believable that so many atrocities could happen in such a short period of time, and that so many were so avoidable. As a Brit reading it it just seems obvious that there needs to be way more gun control and I would like everyone to read it immediately please.
THUG you'll probably have heard of because it quite rightly got the most hype ever. Right at the beginning of the book fifteen year old Starr is in a car with her friend when they're pulled over and her friend is shot by a cop when he turns around to ask her if she's ok. From there the book goes through protests and riots but also Starr's daily life and her family and the effect that living in her community and being a Black teenager has on her life. I cried so many times throughout this book - it is absolutely heartbreaking and even more so because it's so far outside of my own experience. This is the power of reading.
One of the first books I read this year which I knew would be a favourite and has remained so is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This is another book that got a lot of hype but again it was really deserved. It tells the story of two sisters who don't know they're sisters in Ghana. One is married to a slaver and the other sold into slavery and the book follows each of the sisters ancestors through history. It's an incredible narrative feat, with so many amazing, vividly drawn characters, brilliantly plotted and just incredible storytelling.
The other two incredible indie books I've read so far this year are total opposites and were also completely opposite in terms of my expectations. Dragon's Green by Scarlett Thomas (which was the book in our May box) was pretty much guaranteed to be a favourite since I love all of her other books. It's a wonderful fantasy book - the start in a new series - about a young girl named Effie and her discovery that magic exists, there is a magical world attached to the real world (called the Otherworld) and that the bad guys are definitely out to get her! It's really amazing and even if you don't usually read children's books or fantasy I'd highly recommend it.
The last of my favourites of 2017 is from Linen Press, a fantastic indie publisher I only discovered this year, who publish books by women writers. Sometimes a River Song by Avril Joy has one of the most uniquely voiced narrators I've ever read. Aiyana lives on a river boat with her parents and siblings. Her father is abusive and she dreams of running away, but ends up being given by her father to a much older man to live with him. The writing is really astounding and Aiyana's spirit shines through the pages, refusing to be broken despite all that she's suffered. It's a tiny little book but there's so much in it. We included it in our Summer Reading box and I really hope everyone loves it as much as I did!
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What are your favourite books of the year so far?