August Reading Roundup

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Year of the King – Anthony Sher

I purchased Year of the King off the back of a Shakespeare buzz after seeing an incredible couple of performances by Bell Shakespeare, one of which was Richard III, the subject of this book. Anthony Sher played the role to much acclaim in RSC’s Richard III in 1984, and recorded his journey from rumours that he would get to play the role, through rehearsals, previews and their opening night. Along the way he returns to his homeland of South Africa during apartheid, and tries to untangle how to play a role that has been dominated by the masters of Shakespeare. There are also a variety of his sketchers scattered throughout the book, which provide a fascinating insight into his research and attempts to uncover the character of Richard, particularly to someone who hasn’t progressed beyond stick figures.

For some reason Year of the King took a few stops and starts for me to finish, but it is an enjoyable read. Anthony can sometimes come off as a bit of an ass, and there were sections of his writing where I wanted to reach back in time and give him a good shake. Everything is written very much as if he, and only he, knows how the play should go- I imagine the rehearsals would have been a little bit tense. Still it’s fascinating to follow his journey, feeling the tension as the rumours of his playing the role start to spread, and the pressure of stepping up to such an iconic role. Definitely an interesting read for any acting or Shakespeare buffs!

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Book of Joan – Lidia Yuknavitch

August’s bookclub book was so hot off the press that I had to order a physical copy – shock horror! Good thing it’s a wonderful fabric-bound hardcover, because they always have a place on my bookshelf.

I haven’t read anything else by Lidia Yuknavitch, so I entered into The Book of Joan completely blind. The blurb reads like a sci-fi/post-apocalyptic novel, two genres that I never have any difficulty indulging in- however I have to say that if I hadn’t had the luxury of ploughing through this in one session, I think I may have struggled. While it definitely does have a strong sci-fi/post-apocalypic backdrop, the writing was challenging for me, and at times I found it needlessly crass. Still, the world is fascinating. I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but this is a book that I really feel would almost work better on the screen. Have you read The Book of Joan yet, or anything else by the author? I would love to know what you think!

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And other concerns) – Mindy Kaling

Talking As Fast As I Can – Lauren Graham

Scrappy Little Nobody – Anna Kendrick

Yes, this months roundup is a little ridiculous compared to the last couple. I was lucky enough to pop home to NZ for a long weekend and this is what happens under those circumstances- five books in 48 hours! I grouped these three books together mostly because I’m being lazy, but also because they are very similar. Mindy Kaling’s first book has been sitting on my shelf for a while, so I grabbed it for an easy plane read. If you’re familiar with her work, you’ll find Mindy’s writing easy to sink into -she’s just as affable and odd on the page as she is in any other medium. In fact, all three of these women write in a very comparable style- probably the reason I was able to binge all of them in the space of 24 hours. Like most celebrity autobiographies, they’re in a loosely chronological order, almost painfully casual (Lauren Graham’s feels like a ongoing email to a friend that she just sort of keeps picking up from time to time), and full of the inside goss and little feelgoods that prove that they’re just real people after all.

I’m not going to lie, at times I found smashing through these three books a little depressing (I’m looking at you, Miss Anna on-Broadway-at-16-and-can-eat-whatever-you-want-Kendrick) because it’s a life that seems borderline utterly unattainable if you’re not born in the cradle of LA showbiz. Still, they were perfect airplane fodder, and like a dodgy regency romance, I’ll probably find myself going to back to them eventually. Thanks ladies!

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The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir – Dee Williams

I’ve read The Big Tiny before, but trapped in a metal tube over the Tasman Sea seemed like the perfect time to read it again. There’s probably a certain sort of person (ie. me) that is attracted to everything to do with tiny houses, and Dee Williams has captured all the beautiful moments and trials that come with building and inhabiting a space the size of a carpark. Written as Williams comes to grips with a dire medical diagnosis, The Big Tiny is fearless, candid, and frequently hilarious. Even if you don’t fancy the idea of living in a space where your toilet is composting and elbow room is optional, it’s a wonderful option for a cozy afternoon read.


What have you been reading this month? Comment below to share your favourite, I’m always looking for recommendations!

You can check out some of my earlier Reading Roundups here:

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August Reading Roundup

8 thoughts on “August Reading Roundup

  1. I think I’d like to read the Mindy Khaling book.
    The books that stood out to me the most this month was the Red Rising Trilogy – I read them all in August and really enjoyed the series.
    Thank you for liking my review of Dark Matter!

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    1. Really? What a small virtual world, it’s quite an old book! It was recommended to me by another actor, if you’re interested in theatre or shakespeare, I think you would enjoy it!

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  2. Tiny houses are utterly compelling… but I’d have to give up my family and become the crazy cat lady that I know is lurking inside me to actually live in one. I’ve contemplated building one as a guest house. I would love to build a home with my own two (arthritic) hands.

    Do you enjoy Laurie R. King (usually writing typical mystery novels, including a Sherlock Holmes variant?) Have you tried “Califia’s Daughters?” http://laurierking.com/books/califias-daughters/overview
    It’s a great intersection of post-apocalyptic, feminism, and sci fi(ish.) Octavia Butler is also fantastic. (I read “Kindred” in college, and her Parable series later.)

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