book recommendations

I'm really enjoying sharing (and consuming) more bookish content lately; a combination of having more time to read due to lockdown, finding books to really fall in love with and discovering more bookstagram/booktube accounts on my wavelength. So with that in mind, I'm gonna switch up my monthly round-ups to focus solely on what I've been reading and no longer including things I've been watching/listening to/doing. So I hope you're all a bunch of bookworms too! If you are - join me on GoodReads.
I've always enjoyed reading but I've always been a slow reader. That is until lockdown kicked in, I lost my job and had endless days to fill with reading. So it seems like I've read a lot throughout July, and I have, but I start a new job next week so from August my book round-ups will likely be on a much smaller scale. 

There's quite the variety of books here, so instead of ordering them in any kind of favourable way, I'm simply gonna stick to the order in which I read them!

Cilkas Journey by Heather Morris
I technically started this at the end of June after I finished the prequel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, and after how great I thought that book was, I had high hopes for the sequel, but I'm just not sure I enjoyed it as much? I guess 'enjoyed' isn't really the right word given the subject really is it! I still loved the book, and I don't know whether it's because I know it's more fictional than the former, having some of the backlash from her family in the back of my mind, or maybe simply because it was more harrowing to think this was all in addition to time spent in Auschwitz and therefore proved a harder read, but it's still one I'd recommend if you're into historical fiction and want to understand more about what could've been happening post-Auschwitz. Cilka Klein sounds like a formidable woman.

to all the boys i've loved before

To All the Boys I've Loved Before, P.S I Still Love You & Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Ever since the first film dropped on Netflix this series has been on my TBR and because I was in such a low mood earlier this month, it seemed like the perfect time to cosy up with some YA romantic fluff. And I absolutely adored them all! So much so that I cried at the end of book 3, but let's not talk about that.. Following the high school romance of Lara-Jean and Peter in the run-up to college, this is simply a heart-warming love story and a very easy read, definitely one to get you out of a reading slump.

The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla
A compilation of essays from 21 Black, Asian and minority ethnic voices in Britain, this book looks at "why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be 'other' in a country that doesn't seem to want you or truly accept you, but still needs you for it's diversity monitoring forms". This was not only a really powerful and thought-provoking read, but one that I would recommend to everyone, especially white British people (like myself) to get just an inkling of understanding into how those different from you live their day-to-day lives so differently within the same country.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
A much hyped book at the moment, I picked this up when I was made aware of the fact that it was only £2 at The Works (which then resulted in quite the hefty book order being placed, but I digress..). Set in the fictional suburb of Shaker Heights, where everything is planned, this follows the arrival of artist Mia Warren and her teenage daughter Pearl, their relationship with the Richardson family whom they rent an apartment from, and sees a custody battle over the attempted adoption of a Chinese-American baby by friends of the Richardsons. I absolutely loved this book; I loved the characterisation, the plot, the story-telling, and not only is the newly adapted Amazon Prime series now a must-see for me, but also Ng's first novel, Everything I Never Told You, has shot to the top of my TBR.

The Prison Doctor by Dr Amanda Brown
Another book that I bagged for £2 from The Works, I picked this up after seeing comparisons of it to Adam Kays 'This Is Going To Hurt'; a book that I loved. I must say I didn't find it half as compelling! With stories from Browns time as a doctor at a young offenders institution, the notorious Wormwood Scrubs and Europes largest women-only prison in Europe, Bronzefield, there is understandably quite some horrifying and heart-breaking tales. I found it a fascinating read to get a little delve into such a world, and the final quarter of the book was definitely where it picked up, but it seemed a little lacking for me? There seemed to be a lot rushed into a fairly short book and not only was there a lack of personality from the author, but it was just a very simplistic writing style.

How Do We Know We're Doing It Right (Essays on Modern Life) by Pandora Sykes
I pre-ordered this number back in January as I'm a big fan of Pandoras work. I requested delivery to store and little did I know it would arrive in the middle of a pandemic, so picking this book up was my first trip to Waterstones post-lockdown and I'm very proud of myself for managing to only pick up one other book whilst there! Anyway, this collection of essays was such a comforting read, so very relatable, beautifully written and well-researched. I particularly enjoyed the essays on binge-watch culture and fast fashion from such a relatable perspective.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
My final read of July was without a doubt my favourite of the month (if not the year so far??). The Vanishing Half tells the story of mixed race twins Desiree and Stella Vignes, born in a small southern black community, who run away at the age of sixteen. Although they will always be identical, their lives couldn't turn out any different. Spanning decades from the 1950's up to the 1990's we see multiple strands and generations of their family. Dealing with racism, colourism, LGBTQ+ and domestic violence, with a heavy focus on the conflicted sense of identity and the turmoil that comes with it, this was such a compelling read. Brit Bennett is an absolute genius and her debut novel, The Mothers, is absolutely my next purchase.

me & white supremacy

Me & White Supremacy by Layla F Saad
I almost forgot to include this when I started planning this post, simply because it wasn't a conventional book which I 'read' but more of a workbook. But that's not to say there isn't a lot of reading involved! Me & White Supremacy is a 28-day-workbook which breaks down the systemics of white supremacy, white privilege, white silence and so much more, in order to get those who hold white privilege to look within themselves, see how we are part of the problem and address how we can do better going forward. I've been working through this since the start of July and although it certainly isn't an easy book, it is absolutely an essential book if you want to make actual progress in becoming an anti-racist.

the vanishing half by brit bennett

So, have you read any of these? What do you think? And what's been your favourite July read?

Loves. Emma.