Tag: Food

Bridget Collins – The Binding | Review

Title: The Binding

Author: Bridget Collins

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 440

Rating: 3.75/5

I’m naturally a little biased in favour towards this book because it was a gift from my girlfriend, who read it first and highly rated it and then passed it on to me when she was done. I can see why she gave it to me, because it’s a very “bookish” book with a magic system that essentially revolves around the physical act of creating and binding books.

It’s quite a hard book to categorise, but I guess I’d go with a sort of literary fantasy. It reminds me of a bunch of different things, perhaps most notably Frances Hardinge, but it also has its own refreshing feel while still observing a ton of common tropes. I feel like we see a lot of books like this on the market, but it’s rare for one of them to be this good.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot. I think that books have the equivalent of a mouth-feel, something that food reviewers often talk about and which essentially describes how pleasurable it is to chew a given piece of food. I think books have an equivalent, a sort of unexplainable sensation  that they generate somewhere inside you. Here, it has a hell of a good mouth-feel.

I also like the magic system here, which basically revolved around book binding. The binders have the ability to extract memories and to bind them into books, a bit like the literary equivalent of chugging a glass of mind bleach. The problem is that as so often happens, the magic is being abused.

In fact, there are trigger warnings here for sexual abuse, although I thought it was well done for whatever my opinion is worth. The problem is that there are a lot of rich old bastards who are doing things they shouldn’t be doing and using their money to cover it up, which is an all-too familiar story. The only difference is that here, they can go one step further than buying people’s silence. Here, their money can ensure that the victims of horrific wrongs end up forgetting all about it.

It’s pretty chilling really, and I think what this book does well is that it asks these uncomfortable questions and reflects our own world while still telling an overall story. It doesn’t tell you what to think, it just held up a mirror to our own world. One of the reviews on the dust jacket calls it an experience, and I think that’s about right. It’s some absorbing, impressive stuff, all right.

Learn more about The Binding.

 


Robert Webb – How Not to be a Boy | Review

Title: How Not to be a Boy

Author: Robert Webb

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 330

Rating: 3.75/5

I was surprised by this one because I didn’t enjoy it as much as I was expecting. I’d heard a lot of really good stuff going into this, but I had a few issues with it. Perhaps that’s not surprising because I’ve always had a strange relationship with him. When I first saw him in Peep Show, I didn’t like him much, but I’ve since come around to have a healthy respect for him, although I prefer David Mitchell.

I think the main thing that hampered my enjoyment here was Webb’s writing style, which is pretty idiosyncratic. Because of that, I think that you’ll either love the way that he writes or it’ll kind of grate on you, which is what happened with me. Still, that was just a minor thing and a matter of personal preference, and not enough for me to recommend against it.

That’s because it is actually a decent little memoir, particularly because of the way that it asks a lot of questions and goes out of its way to confront some of the ways in which our society has inherent biases about the two sexes. I guess you could say it’s pretty woke, and it knows it’s pretty woke, and in many ways that’s the point of it.

So while I didn’t quite enjoy this one as much as I expected to when I was going into it, I still can’t really complain. It was pretty good at doing what it set out to do, and there was also plenty of food for thought too. It’s also pretty dark, at times surprisingly so. Robert Webb has been through a lot and so it’s kind of awesome to see that he came out the other side and was able to turn it into something positive. So there’s that, I guess.

Learn more about How Not to be a Boy.

 


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