Saturday, September 10, 2016

Minireviews: Hark! A Vagrant, Different Seasons, and We Should All Be Feminists

I've really dropped the ball on writing reviews lately... oops. Part of the problem is that I've been rereading a lot, and writing reviews of rereads is quite difficult- as they tend to be books I love, and there's not much more I want to say other than the odd comment on new things I've picked up on, and the rest is just me going READ THIS, READ THIS NOWWW IF YOU KNOW WHAT'S GOOD FOR YOU.

But, yeah. Here's some reviews all the same.

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

Hark! A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton
So the problem with having such a groaningly large pile of unread books (185ish, at last count...) is that there are so many books I was super excited to read when I bought them and then just... didn't. I have no excuses for this one in particular, as it's short and consists of comics. I read most of it while waiting for my mother to come out of a doctor's appointment, actually.

In case you haven't met the delightful Kate Beaton's work yet, she writes short, funny comics based mostly on history or classic literature. My favourites are, as you can probably guess, the ones based on books I particularly love. For example, Sherlock Holmes:

And the Brontes:

I seriously love it.

But yeah, there's some ones about things I don't necessarily get (Canadian history, hello) but mostly this book was delightful. So much so that I immediately bought Beaton's next book, Step Aside Pops after I finished this. You can also find most of her stuff online but having it in book form is just so much nicer, ya know?

Different Seasons by Stephen King

First of all I want to complain about this book's many titles. It's known as Different Seasons, The Shawshank RedemptionApt Pupil AND Stand By Me, depending on the edition. To make matters worse, my copy says Different Seasons on the spine but The Shawshank Redemption on the cover. This is greatly annoying to me.

Anyway. This is a collection of four novellas: Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil, The Body, and The Breathing Method. The first three of these were made into movies, none of which I've ever seen.

Stephen King tends to be pretty hit or miss for me, and likewise I enjoyed some of these more than the others. Apt Pupil was by far my favourite- it's about a teenage boy who discovers his elderly neighbour is a former Nazi commander, and they end up in this really twisted codependent relationship of blackmail and lies. It was really interesting to read from a psychological point of view, and the passages that deal with the Holocaust really bring home that real horror exists in real life. Which is the most terrifying thing of all, really.

The Body (which became the movie Stand By Me) was less about a body than about growing up and coming from a broken childhood. The whole thing was really well written and I enjoyed it a lot.

The Breathing Method is a weird little piece of genuine horror, which is hard to describe without giving away the ending.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption was probably my least favourite of the bunch, to be honest. It's interesting as far as anyone escaping from prison is interesting, but it didn't really do much for me.

Overall then: I liked this a lot. It's definitely not up with my favourite Stephen Kings, but it's still in the top half of my mental ranking.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is another book I should file under 'SHOULD REALLY HAVE READ BEFORE NOW'. But I don't even really remember buying it, and it wasn't even on comprehensive list of books I own but haven't read- which has led me to fear the number is actually far exceeding the 185ish...

Anyway. This is based on a TED talk Adichie gave, based on, well, read the title. When it comes to me reading about feminism it really is a case of preaching to the choir, but this one was interesting on the argument that feminism is for everyone, not just white Western women. Which, yes. If I hear one more person say that only rich white Western women worry about feminism, I think I'll scream, because hello, feminism is a worldwide movement concerned with everything from rape culture in Ameican colleges to FGM in Somalia. Anyway. This is well-argued, short, succinct, and you can read it in 10 minutes. So there's no excuse :)

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