#100days of love: Day 3

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Today has been up and down. Last week I found some jasmine growing on some railings in tufnell park. I picked a sprig this morning because I love the smell and looking at the delicate flowers reminds me there is beauty even on grey days.

This evening I went out for dinner with an old friend and I feel content after a very pleasant evening. And yes that is a plate of snails. They were bloody lovely.

My year in books: Feb 2014

Today is the 1st of April and I am entering the fourth month of my reading challenge. I must be honest. I have found this list a challenge. Not because I haven’t enjoyed the books I have read so far, but because I have a very specific weakness. Firstly fantasy novels and secondly a need for undemanding reads when I am tired.

Fantasy novels allow me to dream and experience worlds past and future. I enjoy stories of young men and women discovering powers they did not know they possess and the journey this takes them on. I love archaic language and medieval stories of wily queens, chivalrous bandits and princes. I love period dress. The words ‘armour’, ‘magic’, ‘bodice’ and ‘charmed gem stones’ enchant me in a unique way. I am currently working my way through the epic saga ‘The Wheel of Time’ and I couldn’t resist reading book 9, despite having read my first, very good fantasy novel by a woman of colour:

  The H100K2undred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K Jemisin.

I ordered the book as a treat for myself (I have to love a book to buy it!) and I did enjoy it. Its a tale of a courageous girl away    from home who has to use her wits and make new alliances. It was just a bit light for me given that I am in thrall to Game of    Thrones where each book is 500 pages and there are a 20 plots and 50 subplots. I did develop a crush on one of the  characters though, and I liked that female desire was addressed. It was also a big positive that the protagonist was a girl of  colour and that there were other characters of different races. It was nice to recognise yourself/ approximations of your  culture in print. I would recommend this book to a teenager or as a light fantasy read. 7/10

I was however, very impressed by No Place Like Home by Gary YoungeStarting in the 1990s in Stevenage, Younge describes his youthnoplace and how he attempts to construct his racial identity of being born in the UK but being of Caribbean descent and living in an almost entirely white and English environment.I identified with many of his comments on this racial and cultural complexity and its was these observations of being black in the UK that made this book stand out for me. However the young Gary set off to America to follow in the steps of the freedom fighters, a unique journey to take and one that I had recently seen depicted in The Butler. His observations of being a black Briton in America and how he is received;  his perceptions of the black middle class in Atlanta and meeting those that had been part of or witnessed the freedom rides made it an excellent and inspiring read. This is the type of book I want to write. 9/10

So below is my list so far:

  • Coolie Woman/ Gaiutra Bahadur (Indo- Guyanese)
  • Pride of Carthage & Acacia: War with the Mein Bk. 1 / David Anthony Durham (African American)
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy 1) / N. K. Jemisin (African American)
  • The bastard of Istanbul & The gaze / Elif Shafak (Turkish)
  • The museum of innocence : a novel / Orhan Pamuk (Turkish)
  • Fictions / Jorge Luis Borges  (Argentinian)
  • The fall of the stone city & The Palace of Dreams / Ismail Kadare (Albanian)
  • Arabian nights and days / Naguib Mahfouz (Egyptian)
  • Witchbroom & Light falling on bamboo/ Lawrence Scott (Trinidadian)
  • When the Only Light Is Fire / Saeed Jones (African American/ LGBT)
  • The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao & This is how you lose her / Junot Diáz (Dominican)
  • We need new names / NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwean)
  • Ghana must go / Tayie Selasi ( Ghananian)
  • Sounds Like London: 100 Years of Black Music in the Capital / Lloyd Bradley (Black British)
  • Twelve Tribes of Hattie / Ayana Mathis (African American)
  • Sugar in the blood : a family’s story of slavery and empire / Andrea Stuart (Bajan/Barbadian)
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God / Zora Neale Hurston (African American)

Those in italics are currently sitting on my bedside table, waiting for me to finish the tome that is ‘Backlash’ by Susan Faludi for feminist book club. Feel free to make suggestions! My next update will be on ‘Ghana Must Go’ and ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’.