Book Reviews: September 2021

Only two books this month, because university.

1. Things My Son Needs to Know About the World


Alternative title:
Rating: 4 stars
Favourite quote: “Because the only thing you can give to men who already have everything is a second chance. And you’re all of their second chances. Every day. And they became different men when you arrived. Better men.” (Not the best quote in the book, but it reminds me of my grandfather so I have to include it.)
Read this if you like: Parenting, humourous anecdotes

In his first non-fiction book, Fredrik Backman – my favourite author of all time – does exactly what the title says: he tells his son (less than a year old at the time of writing) things he believes he ought to know about the world. Turns out, there are many things.

I don’t have a son or any young relatives, and despite having loved all Backman’s books, I’m not particularly interested in his personal life. Still, this little collection of short pieces really hit all the right notes for me. I loved when I could identify how his personal life inspired some of his characters and plots, especially when his self-deprecating sense of humour came into play.

I’m only leaving 4 stars because, like most Backman books, it strayed into the corny territory. Normally I can deal with that (I love a good corny moment), but in the context of a book about his attitude towards parenting, I found myself raising an eyebrow a few times.

2. Normal People


Alternative title: Emotional Agitation / I Haven’t Changed At All (I’ve decided to start using quotes from the book for my title ideas!)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Favourite quote: “How long had that feeling lasted? Two weeks, or more? Then it went away, and a certain short chapter of her youth had concluded, and she had survived it, it was done.” (Again, not the best quote, but it reminds me of my own youth.)
Read this if you like: Will they/won’t they romances, social issues

Marianne’s a high school outcast, and Connell’s a popular jock whose mother cleans Marianne’s house. They end up in a strictly secretive friends-with-benefits situation, which ends during the school prom and restarts when they go to the same university. Over the years, readers follow their tumultuous relationship as they navigate college and their class differences.

I think it’s important to preface this review by stating I feel strong antipathy towards romance books. I’m alright with books that feature romance, but the genre itself will never be one that I reach for. If I’m going to read a romance book, the featured relationship had better be messy and sometimes ugly. This book with its characters basically going “I will always be drawn to you” in every chapter did it for me.

I liked the frustrating characters and hoped to get to know them better, though I’m satisfied with what we got. I just wish that there was MORE plot in the book – some frustrating books can be satisfying, but this one was all angst with no release.


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