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Isis Holt

Book Review: Jan 2022

Welcome to my first book review blog! I would like to start off by saying that everything I have written below is only my opinion. I am doing my best to be courteous of the books I read and the authors who wrote them while also sharing my honest opinion. It is important for me to emphasise that while I may not have enjoyed a particular book, it doesn’t mean that you also won’t enjoy it. I started this because I love reading and I love talking about what I read. I try to read widely to have an appreciation for as many genres as possible although I do have a few consistent favourites. I hope you find this blog helpful or interesting in some way. I am always open to hearing other people’s opinions or comments so please share them below, and let me know what I should read next!

The five books I read this month were:


The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris

Genre: Biographical/ historical Fiction

Rating: 10/10

Pages: 254


The story follows Lale Sokolov’s journey through and beyond the Auschwitz concentration camp. The narrative reflects fear, love, and sheer grit as he confronts the most unthinkable reality as a tattooist in the camp. Placed in a position of overwhelming danger Sokolov’s ability to work his way out of even the most gruesome of circumstances is reflected in the 254 pages where we see love prevail even in the most unlikely circumstances.


This book grips you and never lets you go.

When I tell you I finished the entire thing in less than 6 hours straight I’m not kidding.

The story is raw, emotional, and so vivid you can’t look away. The plot is thick with emotion and imagery. It leaves you wondering how you could be smiling on page 10 and crying on page 11. To not read this book would be a disservice.


Convenience store woman

Author: Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori (translator)

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 5/10

Pages: 160


Convenience store woman follows 36-year-old Keiko Furukura as she finds her sense of purpose working in a smile mart. The controlled environment is paradoxically soothing compared to the ever-changing ‘outside world’. Keiko does her best to fit into the odd environment of inner-city Tokyo while attempting to justify her unusual lifestyle.


A quirky and poignant read. Murata does a stunning job at constructing a world that reflects Japanese surrealism in the most heart-warming way. The novel problematises societal expectations of conformity and highlights the way purpose and expectation play a role in how we define our identity. The protagonist finds herself at home in her ‘dead-end job’ working at a convenience store and at odds with her family and friends desire to upskill and raise families. A story that will have you reflecting on your own values and independence.


The Barefoot Investor

Author: Scott Pape

Genre: Non-fiction

Rating: 8/10

Pages: 296


Claiming to be “the only money guide you will ever need” this step-by-step self-help book provides tasteful insight into the world of savings, money management and investing. All backed up by the former investment adviser, Scott Pape.


I am the last person to voluntarily pick up a book on investing. Having said that, a week in isolation had me locked into trying something new. This book will completely change how you view and manage your money. As someone with minimal financial literacy, this book felt like everything I didn’t learn in high school. The language was not only accessible but also highly engaging and even funny at times. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to take control of their financial life or even just understand it a little better. It is probably one of the only finance books you will pick up and enjoy reading.


Mayflies

Author: Andrew O’Hagan

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 2/10

Pages: 277


This coming-of-age story follows a group of mates heading to Manchester for a weekend of alcohol, music, and mischief. In the summer of 1986, nothing is off-limits, and the characters embrace the excitement and magic of their youth. 30 years later things are looking very different for one of the boys who is forced to confront a harsh reality.


I really wanted to love this book. Knowing that it was split into two parts made me persevere with the hope that my opinion would improve. While I think the writing style was beautiful and refined and the plot was rich with culture and nostalgic memories. I don’t think I was the demographic that the read was aimed at. Set in 1986 and then 2017, the novel follows young working-class men as they spend a weekend in Manchester at a music festival. Filled with political and pop culture references from the time, I imagine it would have been a time machine for anyone born in that era. For me, I found the references difficult to place and therefore the characters even more difficult to connect with. While I didn’t personally enjoy this read, I believe there would be a lot of people who would.


Self-help

Author: Lorrie Moore

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 7/10

Pages: 176


This collection of short stories follows characters dealing with love, loss, and complex relationships. One woman learns how to navigate an affair while another confronts her terminal illness. Each story provides insight into the grey areas of the human condition, each reality accompanied by emotional acuity, humour, and wit.


Self-help is a collection of short stories. The prose of this collection is unique and captivating. The tenses, perspectives and structure of the writing varies for each story keeping the reader engaged and curious. ‘How’ was my favourite of the nine stories. It is written addressing the reader as though it were an actual self-help book. 'How' chronicles a woman navigating an affair from the moment it begins to the moment her husband finds out. Moore does a brilliant job at drawing attention to the human experience through themes of love, grief, and joy. I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to be purely invested in a story that you could read on your lunch break.

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© 2022 by Isis Holt. Brisbane based.