February 2022 Reading Roundup

Last month I read some excellent books, including Japanese literary fiction and some more Caribbean literature from local bookshops.

Last month I read some excellent books, including Japanese literary fiction and some more Caribbean literature from local bookshops.

I was supposed to be back in Serbia by now, but we changed our flights and are still in Barbados. Like everyone else, I’ve been reading a lot about Ukraine online, but I also found time for some good books last month, including Japanese literary fiction and some more Caribbean literature from local bookshops.

Vagabonds! by Eloghosa Osunde

Vagabonds!

In this stunning debut novel, Nigerian writer Eloghosa Osunde turns Lagos inside-out to show us the city through the lives of its most marginalised people. It’s a chaotic mishmash of different stories and voices, blending realism and fantasy in unpredictable ways, and it works brilliantly.

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

This was a completely different book from Vagabonds!, and I enjoyed the change of pace. It’s a quiet but emotionally resonant novel about a slowly developing friendship between a housekeeper and a maths professor. The professor’s memory only lasts eighty minutes, so each day they begin from scratch, and yet they still become close. It’s a great exploration of what happens when you take away the memories that we tend to think are so essential to forming relationships.

The Limits to Capital David Harvey

Limits to Capital

Another big change here! The Limits to Capital is a dense, highly theoretical exploration of Marxist economics. I have to admit that I found it a bit of a slog and quite a bit of it was lost on me, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book—just that it’s the kind of book you have to make more effort with, and I wasn’t in the mood to do that. I did get some useful insights from it anyway. The part about regular destructive warfare being a way of deflating asset bubbles and counteract capitalism’s inherent tendency for overaccumulation seems sadly relevant today.

Casuarina Row by John Wickham

Casuarina Row by John Wickham

I picked this up in a local second-hand bookshop, and it was an interesting read. It’s a diverse mix of short stories, essays and personal reminiscences by a man who was for many years the literary editor of The Nation, the leading newspaper here in Barbados. I particularly liked “Portrait of a Father”, his appreciation of his father, the radical journalist Clennell Wickham. Interestingly, I’ve been listening to John Wickham’s nephew (and Clennell’s grandson) Peter Wickham on the radio here and reading his newspaper columns without realising the family history. Peter Wickham wrote a piece about his uncle a few years ago in, of course, The Nation.

The Collapse of Yugoslavia by Alastair Finlan

The Collapse of Yugoslavia by Alastair Finlan

Sometimes, books end up on my Kindle, and I have no idea how they got there. This was one of those. Anyway, it was short, so I read it this month. I’d recommend it as a decent introduction to the topic to people who are unfamiliar with what happened. Since I’ve done quite a bit of reading on it before, it didn’t tell me much that was new, but it was good to get a quick overview.

Devolution by Amie McCracken

Devolution

Wow, my reading was all over the map this month! This last one was a sci-fi novel about a dystopian future in which humans have been almost wiped out by a killer virus and by their inability to evolve to cope with a world made hostile by the effects of climate change. Humanity’s only hope is to evolve, and a teenager called Selah is at the heart of a scientific project to alter children’s DNA to help them acquire the genetic mutations that will allow them to survive. But when her scientist father goes missing, she discovers that they’re all being lied to, and she must stop being a lab rat and take matters into her own hands to discover the truth and a hope for survival. It was an interesting premise, and I quite enjoyed the novel, but it felt a bit unbalanced, with a lot of time spent on world-building and scientific experiments, and the more dramatic plot developments coming in a rush at the end. As with The Limits to Capital, I probably wasn’t the right readers for this book, but I think it’s always good to try something different.

Over to You…

What have you been reading lately? How was your month? Let me know in the comments below. And let’s all hope for a good, peaceful month ahead.

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There are 6 comments

  1. I’ve not read any of these either, but I added Vagabonds to my TBR early on (in theory, I’m focussed on backlisted stuff this year, other than for work). It’s funny how you mention feeling your reading was all over the place, but almost like it wasn’t clear that was true, until you sat down to write up your summary! Heheh I can see how that happens. This year I’m reading much more slowly and more sporadically and I am specializing in never finishing anything. At least, that’s how it’s looking in this moment. I hope your decision to stay there for longer in Barbados is for positive reasons and that your remaining time there goes well. (Or, maybe it’s actually a decision not to stay, but to not go back to Serbia, which of course I can understand but is certainly not hopeful.)

    1. Yes, it was like that! I was just picking up books as I felt like reading them, and then as I listed them at the end of the month, I realised how different they all were!

      I remember you read a lot last year and wanted to change things a bit this year, so hope that you’re enjoying the other things you’re doing. The decision to stay here longer was a bunch of things, some of them positive and some negative. We do love it here in Barbados, which is very positive, but Genie also has some less-positive family stuff, and the war in Ukraine is also on our minds, so that made us less eager to rush back to eastern Europe right now. In truth, though, I’ve been to Barbados maybe a dozen times now over 20 years, and no matter how long we stay each time, I’m never ready to leave, so we often end up making a call to the airline to change our return flights 🙂

  2. Instead of all over the map, I’d say your reading month had lots of variety 🙂 Like Marcie, i hope your decision to stay in Barbados for longer was for positive reasons, like topping off the vitamin D.

    1. Yes, that’s a better way of looking at it, Stefanie 🙂 As I mentioned in my reply to Marcie above, the decision to stay came about for a bunch of reasons, some positive and some negative. But the beauty here is certainly a big part of it. My vitamin D levels must be through the roof right now!

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