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My reading highlights of the first half of 2021

Like last year, when it took me months to plough through The Brothers Karamazov, this year my reading has been slowed down by another LONG read – this time it was the last installment in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. Thankfully, this year’s tome was a much easier one than last year’s. In fact, it was one of the highlights of the first half of the year.

Here are some others:

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Hilarious and very much reflecting today’s world for the modern twenty-something, with its proliferation of social media and casual hook-ups. You’ll laugh out loud at Queenie’s self-deprecating humour and at the conversations she has with her family and friends.

Apeirogon by Colum McCann

Combining history, journalism, literature and poetry, Colum McCann’s book snuck up on me. It was hard to read about the conflict in Israel, but also seemed very necessary, especially when fighting resumed in the region earlier in the year. McCann wrote about two fathers who had lost young children to the conflict, and their fight for peace.

Harry Potter by JK Rowling

The other epic I finished this year was the final book of the Harry Potter series, and marked the end of this era by attending Harry Potter and the Cursed Child with my 10-year-old son. I loved it all and still miss this fantasy world.

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

The no-nonsense Olive is at it again, inadvertently insulting one person, then providing surprising comfort to another. I just love Olive’s humanness – she really does seem like someone you know. Strout perfectly captures the social and familial complications faced by an ordinary woman, in an ordinary town.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

It was a rare treat to lift the curtains (albeit fictionally) of William Shakespeare, finding out about the circumstances that may have influenced his brilliant career. O’Farrell drew an exquisite portrait of love and grief.

Stone Sky Gold Mountain by Mirandi Riwoe

Riwoe’s book was quite a departure from her The Fish Girl novella, which I also loved. This time, she wrote about life on the goldfields in Queensland, where prejudice and racism were part of everyday life. However, amid the brutal lifestyle, there was also love, friendship and hope.

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

This tome was hard-going at some times, as Mantel explained the social and political situation in the time of Henry VIII. However, I ultimately loved immersing myself in this intriguing, sometimes brutal world of executions and political maneuvering. Thomas Cromwell was an appealing guide, highlighting the way Henry VIII’s moods or whims dictated who would live or die. It was both frightening and illuminating – a fitting end to an extraordinary trilogy.

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