This month, I read a dense Serbian novel, an analysis of capitalism as a snake eating its own tail, and a couple of Elizabeth Strout’s latest novels.
We started travelling again this month—we spent some time in Kotor Bay in Montenegro in an apartment with the view shown above, then drove around Bosnia, and are now in Slovenia.
So my time was taken up with scrambling to get our old cottage in Serbia ready for winter and then getting ready for the trip. So I didn’t read too many books, but I enjoyed those I did read. Here’s a summary.
Cannibal Capitalism by Nancy Fraser
The central premise of this excellent new book is that capitalism is not an economic system, but a social system that exists by devouring “non-economic” resources such as the free human care provided mostly by women, wealth expropriated from racialised others, our much-cherished democracies, and of course nature.
It’s a great way of connecting the dots between different struggles such as environmentalism, racial justice, feminism, and the fight to preserve democracy. By cannibalising all of these things it depends on, capitalism is like an ouroboros—a snake eating its own tail. It’s a thought-provoking analysis, and I’d strongly recommend it!
Landscape Painted With Tea by Milorad Pavic
I picked up this Serbian novel at a bookshop in Belgrade before we left, and it was a tough but rewarding read. It was tough (for me at least) because the story jumps around a lot, there’s a lot of abstract speculation and not much concrete action, and I was reading it late at night while tired from busy days, so I kept falling asleep after a few pages! But it was rewarding because of the cleverness of those abstract speculations and also because of the interesting structure—the book is written as a crossword, with the option to read it either “Down” or “Across”, and the ending changes depending on who you are as a reader.
Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout
Yes, I’m back to Elizabeth Strout again! I listened to loads of her novels on a previous European road trip over the summer, and this month I listened to Oh William! while driving through the mountains of Serbia and Montenegro. It wasn’t my favourite, but it was interesting to meet characters from previous novels and see how they have changed as they enter old age.
Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout
And now I’ve read all of Strout’s novels so far. This one, published in 2022, follows the same characters from Oh William! and charts their journey through the Covid pandemic. This one also didn’t hit the heights of her earlier novels for me, but it was an enjoyable way to tick off the miles as we rolled through the beautiful hills of Bosnia and Croatia and crossed into Slovenia.
What Did You Read This Month?
Leave a comment below to let me know what you’ve been reading this month and whether you’d recommend it or not.