May 2024 Reading Roundup

Here are the books I read last month, from historical fiction to a futuristic novel and a non-fiction book about a radical solution to climate change. Pretty much everything except the present, then, which is just what I needed right now.

Here are the books I read last month, from historical fiction to a futuristic novel and a non-fiction book about a radical solution to climate change. Pretty much everything except the present, then, which is just what I needed right now.

It’s been a while since I did these monthly reading roundups, so I thought I’d restart the habit. Read on to see what I read last month, and let me know your best books of the month in the comments below.

The Future by Naomi Alderman

the future by naomi alderman

I started the month with this bold fictional imagining of possible futures amid escalating climate crises and Big Tech malfeasance. Despite starting on the day the world ended, it’s not a dystopia. Read my review of The Future.

Red Sky in Morning by Paul Lynch

Beautiful, beautiful writing. That’s the main impression that Paul Lynch’s debut novel made on me. I can see why he went on to win the Booker Prize four books later. Red Sky in Morning is a kind of historical thriller, an 1820s manhunt that starts in rural Ireland and ends on the other side of the Atlantic. But it’s probably the most poetic, literary thriller you’ll ever read.

912 Batu Road by Viji Krishnamoorthy

912 Batu Road

This is a paperback I picked up on my travels in Asia earlier this year, at a bookshop in Penang to be precise. It’s two stories in one: a modern-day tale of forbidden love across ethnic lines and a historical narrative about the Japanese invasion of Malaya in World War II. I enjoyed the historical part more than the modern strand, but overall it was a good read.

The Echoes by Evie Wyld

The Echoes by Evie Wyld

I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by British/Australian literary fiction writer Evie Wyld, and The Echoes was no exception. It’s another multi-stranded novel that spans different generations and in this case weaves back and forth between the Australian outback and a London flat inhabited by a ghost. There are multiple themes and traumatic memories echoing across time and space, and it all works brilliantly. (Edit: my review of The Echoes is now live.)

Slow Down: How Degrowth Communism Can Save the Earth by Kohei Saito

Slow Down by K?hei Sait?

Hey, don’t we all want to slow down sometimes? Perhaps this is why this book applying an updated understanding of Marxism to the climate crisis became a surprise best-seller in Japan. I need a full review to do justice to all the ideas presented here, and I plan to write one soon. Perhaps that will help me to clarify what I really think about degrowth communism too. I do remember from this book, however, that Saito did a very good job of demolishing pretty much every other alternative out there along the way.

Over to You…

Have you read any of these? What were your favourite books of May 2024? What are you looking forward to reading in June? Let me know in the comments below. And check out what other book bloggers have been reading over at Feed Your Fiction Addiction.

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There are 18 comments

  1. What a great variety of books you read in May! I read Paul Lynch’s Prophet Song a couple months ago and wow, the book was amazing but it was hard to read because it felt so close to home in a lot of ways.

    I hope you do a full write up of Slow Down. Degrowth, or something like it, is a must on the way to a steady-state economy and it would be better if we planned it instead of collapsed into it, but you know that’s not likely to happen. Degrowth communism though, not sure what I think about that, so want to hear more. I do know that Marx seems to be making a huge resurgence these days, so much so I’m feeling like I should read him rather than read other people talking about him.

    1. Yeah, I’m looking forward to reading Prophet Song! I definitely get why it would feel quite close to home. Red Sky in Morning is very distant – a purely historical tale from the 1820s – but it’s very well told, and the writing is what really drew me in.

      I am planning a full write-up of Slow Down. I’ve been reading a few books about different ways to deal with what’s coming, and I need to think through the implications of each. “Degrowth communism” doesn’t sound immediately appealing, but Saito raises a lot of interesting points. And you’re right, if degrowth is coming anyway, then planning for it would be a lot better than collasing into it.

  2. I’ve just read Prophet Song – because it was there in the library, not because I knew what to expect – it was very well done.
    Evie Wyld is one of my less than favourite authors. She knows as much about the Australian outback as the average Englishwoman as far as I could see (But then I’m a geography pedant).
    I have on my shelves, purchased new, unread, China Meiville’s A Spectre Haunting. The Saito, if I came across it, would probably suffer the same fate.

    1. Ah, that’s interesting to hear about Evie Wyld. The London parts are very convincing, and I assumed the parts set in Australia would be the same because she grew up there, but I guess not. It’s interesting to hear how things look from your side, so thanks for sharing that!

      I think I’ll try Prophet Song soon. The premise sounds more interesting than Red Sky in Morning, and if the writing’s as good, I’ll be in for a treat.

  3. Hi Andrew. I have no idea who you are and I’m not interested in what you’ve read recently, what you might be reading soon or what you think about anything whatsoever.
    So do us both a favour and take me off your distribution list or add an unsubscribe option to your emails.

    1. Calm down, little buddy. Just because Andrew hasn’t reviewed your Autobiography “I am a Cunt” doesn’t mean you need to throw your toys out the pram.

  4. Good to see an update from you, Andrew! I’ve read (and enjoyed) other books by Evie Wyld but not The Echoes. She does these dual/multi-stranded narratives so well.

    1. Good to hear from you too, Jacqui! Yeah, I think my favourite is still her debut novel After the Fire, A Still Small Voice, but I’m definitely impressed by how she handles these multiple strands.

  5. Hi Andrew. I’ve read Prophet Song by Paul Lynch, found it a fine novel, but unrelentingly bleak. My favourite English language book of May was Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad, short listed for the Booker Prize. I loved the exploration of identity, the detailed account of relationships between friends and family, the description of the day to day reality of living in the West Bank and the account of staging Hamlet.

    1. Hi Mandy, I want to read Prophet Song soon. Red Sky in Morning was very bleak too, but I loved it. I haven’t paid attention to the Booker shortlist this year, but I love the sound of Enter Ghost. Look forward to reading your review of it over on Peak Reads!

      By the way, did you have a problem leaving a comment? I see two very similar ones on here a few minutes apart, so maybe you thought the first one had got lost?

  6. Thanks for your round up, Andrew. I’ve read Prophet Song by Paul Lynch, thought it a fine novel but unrelentingly bleak. My favourite English Language novel of May was Isabella Hammad’s Enter Ghost, about staging Hamlet in Palestine- and other things. Shortlisted for the Booker this year

  7. As usual, these all sound like books I would enjoy. With TBRs as long as ours (likely everyone here, I’m guessing), sometimes it’s comforting to know that other people are reading the books you haven’t gotten to yourself! You might have read the same article I read this week about how much trouble Paul Lynch has had managing all the publicity he’s been asked to do since his Booker win: I can only imagine! But I also appreciated his take on it, that he would return to the work, unscathed, eventually (i.e. no lasting damage). I recently finished the new Chigozie Obioma (The Road to the Country) as review work and am now reading through Dinaw Mengestu’s backlist (super excited about that — sometimes I need a deadline to get ’round to older books I’ve long meant to read, and I loved one of his early novels). Hopefully your reading June is off to a great start too!

    1. Oh, I hadn’t read that about Paul Lynch, so thanks for raising that. It must be so overwhelming handling all that publicity, especially after years of fairly solitary writing with just the occasional festival or talk. Still, it’s a bit like reading about the struggles of lottery winners – we may feel sorry for them, but we’d still swap places in a heartbeat!

      I look forward to reading your review of Obioma’s new book. I remember enjoying The Fishermen very much. I’ve never read anything by Dinaw Mengestu, so that’s another name to add to the ever-lengthening TBR 🙂

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