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Hi, friends! Thanks for joining me today; I’m so glad you’re here 💙. Today I’m sharing my April 2021 Wrap-Up and my May TBR. April was a pretty good reading month for me, as I finally finished two books that had been dogging me since early March and had one really excellent read. Keep reading to see what I’ve been up to!
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
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland is a wonderful 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. While it is 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 promised 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.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Black Sun on Bookshop.org.
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!
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Iliad on Bookshop.org.
My May 2021 TBR
- Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (already finished, hehe)
- The Iliad by Homer, translated by Robert Fitzgerald (continuing)
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Robert Fitzgerald
- 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. My favorite book I read in April 2021 was The Future is History, and my most disappointing read was probably Crime and Punishment. If I had to say what book I’m most excited about reading in March, it would probably be The Only Good Indians.
What about you? Let me know what your favorite book from this month was, and what you’re most excited to read in May.
I’ll be back soon with a new blog post, so keep your eyes peeled for that! In the meantime, you can keep up with my reading on Goodreads, or follow my other social media. I’m @simplespines on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
As always: thanks for reading, and I’ll see you soon. 💙