This month I’m going to begin by talking about the book I’m currently reading – Imperfect by Lee Kofman. We’ve just returned from a two week holiday in Vietnam, half of which time was spent beachside at Hoi An. Before I left I was looking forward to this prime opportunity to read a book (or four); however, I found it difficult to focus once we got there – turns out a Kindle full of unread books can lead to indecision when one is in the throes of an extended period of anxiety. I eventually settled on Imperfect and the next title on this list, which I’ll come to shortly.
Kofman shared with me, for The Creative Life podcast, a little of the story of her early life in Russia and Israel and the surgeries she underwent due to a heart condition and a terrible bus accident. She explains these events (and their ramifications) in greater detail in Imperfect, while also examining western cultural attitudes about beauty, body and normality. The blend of personal storytelling while being able to cast her eye about society to draw comparisons that are intelligently discussed has won Kofman fans and acclaim in her other books and this one is no exception.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is the book Eddo-Lodge wrote to expand and explore the thesis she put forward in the viral blog post of the same name she wrote in 2014. It is a terrific read and I encourage anyone (i.e most people) who needs greater education about systemic racism to pick it up.
The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein has been one of the most talked-about local nonfiction titles of the past 12-18 months and for good reason. It is about Sandra Pankhurst, now a trauma cleaner and who has led an extraordinary life. One of my favourite parts of the book are the times when Krasnostein recounts Pankhurst’s interactions with her clients, letting her subject’s empathy and understanding for these struggling individuals shine through. Pankhurst admits she is no saint – and Krasnostein admits at points she is not a perfect narrator – but the self-knowledge and reflection both bring to telling the story make it one of humanity and hope. I finished feeling very moved.
Have you ever finished a book about a certain event or period in history that sends you immediately down a Google hole of further investigation? Beautiful Revolutionary by Laura Elizabeth Woollett did that to me. I knew what it was about before I picked it up (truth be told, that’s why I was interested), and it left me wanting to know even more. Not because the content was lacking – but because it was so convincing. But let me backtrack a little and explain: Beautiful Revolutionary is about Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple, tracing its rise in America and catastrophic end in the jungle in Guyana. I heard Woollett speak at a writer’s festival last year about the extensive research that went into the novel, including interviewing survivors who agreed to speak with her. This knowledge infuses the book, deepening its impact. It’s terrific. Harrowing, but terrific.
What are you reading this month?