What I’m reading – the May edition


I know! I’m at this moment on a two-hour train trip and instead of reading, I’m writing about reading. Fail? I’m using one of my last days of garden leave for a photography day in Bendigo. The Bendigo Art Gallery has a couple of design exhibits currently and I have a new camera to play with. 

Also, if you’re wondering what garden leave is (I only discovered it existed five weeks ago), it’s what companies use instead of paying out a notice period when laying off team members. Oracle eliminated my job but kept me on standby for any questions about my projects. The good part is I got a lot of reading in. 

Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

I know I’ve reviewed Strange the Dreamer and it was my third time with the story. With so much time to walk, I ran out of podcasts so switched back to audiobooks. Lazlo Strange and Sarai and the Tizerkane and the unseen world are just as beautiful and entrancing the third time round. Laini’s word choices are magical with phrases like “He believed in magic, like a child, and in ghosts, like a peasant” and “I turned my nightmares into fireflies and caught them in a jar”. Listening to the audiobook makes me feel like I’m on the citadel or riding a spectral through the desert.

The Midwife – Jennifer Worth

Do you watch Call the Midwife? This is the memoirs the program is based on. Jennifer was a junior nurse and midwife on London’s East End just after World War II. It’s a low-income area, so her stories are of people coping in amazing situations and medical developments. Unmarried mums and a woman with 24 children, after having her first really as a child herself. Her words set the scene so well, I’m thankful I was born when and where I was. 

The Mysterious Affair at Styles and Poirot Investigates – Agatha Christie

Thanks to the Serial Reader app, I’ve been on a bit of an Agatha Christie binge. First with The Mysterious Affair at Styles and then Poirot Investigates. I started these just before the publisher announced the texts were being updated to remove outdated and racist terms. I know some are against the change but I found the racist terms distracting. The first story in Poirot Investigates is about some stolen ancient Chinese jewellery. Describing the thief as a ‘chink’ was distracting and unnecessary. 

My thoughts on the books? They’re an enjoyable light read and kind of predictable. I started getting frustrated with the egotistical Poiret when I hit this gem. Yes, I laughed. 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – JK Rowling

This book had been sitting half-finished in my Audible list for literally years. I listen to a lot of podcasts and work-from-home means less commuting time to listen. While knowing the story backwards, it was interesting this time to listen with JK Rowling’s recent behaviours in mind. I summarise her claims as anti-science because transgender people are real people and gender is a messy construct. In Goblet of Fire we have Hagrid being outed as a half-giant, house elf rights, and mentions of Lupin being run out for being a werewolf. JK Rowling has written unwavering support because they were born that way or it was done to them. The characters didn’t choose it so we can’t blame them. How’s that different from being transgender? It’s still an amazing book, which I wish JK Rowling would re-read, and read some science along with it. Grrr.

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

I know, how is it my first time reading Lord of the Flies? We didn’t study it in high school (were they concerned it would scare us away from boys in my prissy girls’ school?), and I just never stumbled upon it. I know there are real examples of less extreme or fatal situations were boys have gone feral but also others where they have worked together. Maybe it’s from reading this,for the first time, as a 47-year-old in 2023, some of the story feels a little too convenient, like not a single older teen or adult made it to the island, let alone survived? And no boys were injured in the crash? Where was their luggage? 

The group-think mob mentality should scare me, but we know that’s true. What freaked me out was the end. ‘Better’ was expected from them because they’re British boys? Really? Oh, wait, it’s 2023 and the British empire is long gone and the monarchy is soon to follow.

After a two year reading slump, this list makes me feel rather accomplished. What have you been reading? Any recommendations for me? I’m hoping this new job doesn’t prompt another reading slump.

Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

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More about Bianca

Bianca's a nerdy, book worm who is constantly curious and appreciates being alive while the internet exists. During the day, she's a content writer for a tech company. The rest of the time she's reading, and running, and bike riding, and sipping coffee, and taking photos around Melbourne, Australia.

2 thoughts on “What I’m reading – the May edition

  1. Bianca

    Ha, the “we can always tell” argument doesn’t even stand up to their own scrutiny. I feel so much for the man I read about last week who used the bathroom matching the gender assigned at birth, as per their law and workplace rule and was screamed at by a woman who wanted the rule. He was physically masculine and she felt intimidated by that. I know I’ve found myself using “human” to describe people more since all this flared up. The broader, more inclusive term feels better to remind us of our similarities and what’s important.

    Glad to get your mental train moving. I’m not getting to my RSS feeds that quick. How did you go with your post?


  2. Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

    Oooh, what a variety of books to have on the go! I was in pretty much the same boat with Lord Of The Flies – I have no idea how I managed to skip having to read it in school, but I did, and coming to it as an adult gave me so many eye-rolls.

    And I love your categorisation of J.K. Rowling’s views as anti-science – that’s *exactly* it! You’re right, the Goblet Of Fire book has some really interesting stuff going on thematically in light of what she’s said and done in the years since. The thread that I can see is that the characters you mentioned – werewolves, half-giants, house elves – all experienced shame around their identity, and had the “good sense” to hide the truth and/or abase themselves in front of the “normal” witches and wizards. So much of the anti-trans/anti-science rhetoric IRL seems to rest on “we can always tell” (eye-roll) and “how dare you enter our spaces” (double eye-roll). Maybe Rowling only likes minorities when they hide the truth and pretend they’re “normal”? Ooft, there’s a whole blog post in this I think… but thank you for getting that mental train moving from the station 😉


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