On The Bookshelf: February 2017

Some of my favourite things to talk about are books, hence why I attended a reading group for eight years of my life and why I now intend to (hopefully!) study English Literature at university from September this year. For that reason, I thought I would use this post as chance to discuss a couple of the books that I have read most recently, the first being Inside Vogue: A Diary Of My 100th Year by the Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman. I'm not usually one for non-fiction reads, preferring to throw myself into a good story rather than a biography, but this was one which really intrigued me so I was excited when I received it from my cousin for Christmas. I'd highly recommend this to anybody who
caught the Richard Macer documentary last year, which saw the filmmaker head inside the offices of the legendary magazine during its centenary year, as the diary reveals Shulman's true feelings about all the goings-on that we saw on screen, although the book would be appealing to anyone with the slightest interest in journalism or fashion, regardless of whether you caught the film. Shulman leads an extraordinary life, and I found reading about all her wonderful encounters with famous people, from Alexa Chung and the Duchess of Cambridge to David Bailey and Naomi Campbell, so addictive and entertaining. However amongst all these stories of the stars, Shulman interspersed domestic anecdotes that painted her as more than just an ice cold, ruthless editor to rival her US counterpart Anna Wintour, showing a loving, maternal side as she discussed suppers with her partner David and son Sam. It was also refreshing to read that someone who leads such a seemingly glamorous life, organising dinners for Kim and Kanye and meeting royalty, experiences the same problems and worries as the rest of us, including leaky boilers, travel anxiety and feeling chubby in the outfit she had bought for the magazine's centenary dinner. Honest, witty and very relevant, having been scattered with references to current affairs from the last year including Brexit, the London Mayoral elections and Trump, and ending on the day of the EU referendum election itself, Inside Vogue was a riveting, compelling read, and actually served as a welcome break from the heavier-going books on my reading list with its easy to read narrative.
The second book in my recent reads has been Ian McEwan's Atonement. Set across three time periods, the novel tells the story of 13 year old Briony Tallis, who spontaneously identifies the son of her family's housekeeper as the rapist of her older cousin, changing the course of every character's life in the process. It goes on to show how she has lived in the shadow of her mistake her whole life even into adulthood, and how finally aged 77 she wants to find 'atonement' for it, explaining the book's title. With themes including childhood innocence, redemption, forbidden sexuality, class and war, the novel is also a must-read for anyone with an interest in the history of the Second World War, as it covers the Dunkirk evacuations as well as the tragic bombing of Balham Underground station.
I highly enjoyed reading both of these books, despite them being completely unlike, and would recommend either of them to someone looking for something new or different to read that they may not have tried before.
What's been on your bookshelf this month?


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