Book Club Catch-Up: The Last Animal and Letters From Iceland

I've been a little busy lately, what with starting semester B, and therefore I seem to have fallen a little behind in terms of my Book Club reviews. Unfortunately, my memory of why I enjoyed a book wanes quite quickly and so I've decided to slot both December and January's review in to the same blog post. We shall hopefully return to normal programming with February's review which, funnily enough, will also include two books as we're doubling up.

December: The Last Animal by Abby Geni
Let's just start by saying that I adored this book and I am quite devstated that it has taken me this long to read it. I heard about it in one of Mercy's early videos and I did infact recieve it as a Christmas present in 2014. It's probably one of the longest standing books on my shelves. The Last Animal is a wonderful short story collection composed of tales that all involve humans and their relationships with a certain species of animal. For example, a young woman who looks after a giant octopus in an aquarium or a family that lives on an ostrich farm. Despite being mostly realist, the stories all carry an air of magical realism because of their dreamy descriptions and fleshed out characters, human and animal alike. In the past I have found it hard to sit down and devour a short story collection but I found this relatively easy with The Last Animal; I finished it in about two days. 

Geni has just published her first novel The Lightkeepers, and after reading The Last Animal, I can safely say that I shall be reading it this year. 

January: Letters From Iceland by W. H. Auden and Louis MacNeice 
 Letters From Iceland was Kirsty's choice and we were both eager to pick it up in January in light of her upcoming trip to Iceland. I'm definitely jealous, and after reading this wonderful part poetry collection part travel memoir, the feeling has only increased. In this lovely little book - and lovely it was, experiencing it through a beautifully old 50s library copy - we follow Auden and MacNeice on their journeys throughout Iceland for research after Auden is commissioned for a book. One of my favourite parts of this read was the fact that many sections were made up of fictional poetic letters addressed to Lord Byron. Through his witty and charming rhymes, Auden brings Byron (and us) along on his journey of barren landscapes, horseriding, and strange foods. These poems were often hilarious and provided short respite from the longer travel-focused passages which sometimes tip-toed the line between informative and dry. Although some parts of this book held preccedence for me over the others, I'm extrememly glad that I read it and it has reawakened my admiration for Icelandic literature and my lust to read absolutely everything Halldor Laxness has ever written. 

 What have you been reading recently?

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