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Hello, friends! Long time, no see! I’m about two weeks late, but I’m back to post my April 2021 Wrap-Up and my May TBR. As you probably saw, I’ve done a wee redesign on the blog. I’m hoping this motivates me to start posting book reviews again soon. For now, let’s talk about what I read in April!
What I Read in April 2021
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
The first book I finished in April 2021 was Hilary Mantel’s Women’s Prize for Fiction-nominated Wolf Hall. The book follows Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power from clerk for Cardinal Wolsey through part of his tenure as Principal Secretary to King Henry VIII. Wolf Hall is historically accurate (enough for me, anyway) and beautifully written (for the most part, anyway). Adn, while it’s probably about 75 pages longer than it needs to be, it’s full of such fascinating philosophy and devilishly gray morals that I couldn’t help but enjoy the ride.
If you like history, philosophy, Tudor-era politics, or some combination of the above, and you don’t mind savoring the good bits of a somewhat drawn-out novel, then Wolf Hall might be for you!
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The next book I read in April 2021 was Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. In all honesty, I didn’t like this one quite as much as I was hoping to, although 3.5 out of 5 stars is still a solid rating. While the moral and philosophical questions raised by the text (and the characters therein) were quite interesting, the way these questions were raised (and the characters raising them) often lacked nuance. Upon reflection, I also realize there isn’t much plot to speak of here, and, in my very humble opinion, the Epilogue is straight trash. Sorry ’bout it. I might have been a bit disappointed by Crime and Punishment, but I’m still very much looking forward to my next date with Dostoevsky.
If you enjoy analyzing moral and philosophical questions — and don’t mind if those questions are raised in very uncomplex ways — then Crime and Punishment might be for you.
Say Nothing by Patrick Radden-Keefe
Patrick Radden Keefe’s Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland is a wonderfully written piece of narrative non-fiction, investigative journalism, and biography all rolled into one. It is compelling and informative but, unfortunately, suffers from inaccurate (if strategic) marketing. Despite being advertised as centering around the abduction and murder of a Northern Irish woman in 1972, Say Nothing is more of a comprehensive history of The Troubles and its key players. Thus, while it is incredibly well-edited, it sometimes feels unfocused due to the discrepancy between what the synopsis promises and the story inside.
If you’re interested in British/Irish history that isn’t about the royals and/or want to read some non-fiction that reads more like a story and less like a textbook, Say Nothing might be for you!
The Future is History by Masha Gessen
The final book I finished in April 2021 was Masha Gessen’s The Future is History. This is an incredible multigenerational study into the rise, fall, and re-rise of totalitarianism in Russia. The book tells the life stories of four people, each born at the cusp of what was supposed to be a new Russia. Gessen avoids reducing the Russian people to a willness monolith that allowed corruption to take over the country. Instead, they identify the cultural, sociological historical, and — most importantly — human factors that led to the reestablishment of totalitarian institutions in Russia. Gessen does all this without shying away from critiquing the regime(s) that covertly and overtly oppress its people as a means to solidify, and increase, its influence in global politics.
If you want a book that talks about the lasting effects of Russian politics without sacrificing the humanity of Russian people, then The Future is History is definitely for you!
What I’m Currently Reading
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
Reading for Prompt #43 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.
So, full disclosure, by nature of this post being two weeks late, I have actually finished reading Black Sun at the time of posting. However, since I finished it in May, it won’t be included in the April 2021 Wrap-Up. So, you’ll just have to wait for more extended thoughts on Rebecca Roanhorse’s adult fantasy. Suffice it to say, for now, that I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next book in the series. If you like fantasy and want to read something inspired by Indigenous American cultures, you should definitely pick this one up.
The Iliad by Homer
Reading for Prompt #35 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.
At the time of writing, I’m more than halfway through The Iliad. I’ve never read it before, so this might be more of the pseudo-intellectual gatekeeping that had me so scared of books like War and Peace and Crime and Punishment, but I’m surprised at how easy this is to read! That is also definitely an enormous credit to the translator of my edition, Robert Fitzgerald. Either way, I’m really enjoying this so far!
My May 2021 TBR
- The Iliad by Homer (continuing)
- The Odyssey by Homer
- Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (already finished, hehe)
- Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
Wrapping up the April 2021 Wrap-Up
And there you have it! This is everything I have read recently, am currently reading, or will be reading soon. Almost everything I plan to read this year is for the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. You can check out the complete list of my selections here! You can also keep up with my ratings and reviews on Goodreads here!
So, how was your reading month in April? What are you most excited to pick up in May? Let me know in the comments below!
As always, thanks for reading!