Despite being struck by severe End-of-termitis and being a bit slow on the reading front (and being sucked into the vortex that is Love Island), here’s the latest instalment of Book Chat Back-Chat from my daughters (aged 12 and 14), my husband and myself, over a meal of Tortelloni that virtually cooked itself. (Simmer for one minute? My kind of meal!)
Mrs H: So R, what are you reading at the moment?
R (14): I’ve just finished The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas. I really enjoyed it. It’s about a girl called Starr who lives in a rough part of Los Angeles but goes to a top school in a posh part of town. Starr is African-American and feels she’s two different people depending on whether she’s hanging out with her white school friends or her friends from her neighbourhood. The story starts when one of her oldest friends is shot by the police. The police make out he’s a criminal but he didn’t do anything wrong.
Mrs H: I enjoyed reading it too. Did it make you think about racism?
R: Yeah, like how racism can be really subtle sometimes. Like one of Starr’s white friends doesn’t realise she’s being racist, and when Starr points it out to her she refuses to say sorry.
Mrs H: And has it made you want to listen to songs by the late Tupac Shakur?
R: Mum, it’s just Tupac.
Mr H: Or Mr Tupac Shakur.
R: Mum, I’ve already got loads of his songs on my playlist.
Mr H: Get with it, Mildred. Anyway I’ve been reading a non-fiction book called Factfulness by Hans Rosling, who’s this clever Swedish scientist bloke. It’s basically about how we view the world very negatively, from watching the news and believing that everything’s getting worse all the time – things like poverty and equality, for example. But Hans Rosling has done tonnes of research and actually the world’s getting better in so many ways, but that doesn’t make an interesting news story. You see, the media don’t often report the good stuff, which leaves us all thinking that there isn’t any good stuff. But there is.
Mrs H: I’d like to read that after you. What are you reading, B?
B (12): I’ve just started I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith. I really enjoyed the first chapter. It’s a sort of love story set in a crumbling castle where this family live, but they haven’t got any money anymore. I’m going to take it on holiday.
R: I thought that book was so boring. I gave up half-way through.
Mrs H: Didn’t Uncle Ollie give you that book for Christmas last year?
R: Yeah, two years running. He forgot he already bought it.
Mr H: Glad I’m not the only one having senior moments.
Mrs H: Didn’t Dodie Smith also write 101 Dalmatians?
B: Dunno. Anyway, I also started reading a book from the school library called The Selection by Keira Cass, which I was really enjoying but I left it at school. It’s about a reality TV show where these girls have to compete with each other to get noticed by a rich prince.
Mrs H: Maybe we can borrow it from the library in town? So who wants to hear what books I’ve been reading?
Mrs H: Anyone? Well I’ve been on a bit of a non-fiction roll lately. I’ve just read two books about meditation.
R: Oh my God, you’re turning into Grannie.
Mrs H: I’m most certainly NOT turning into Grannie. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d find these books interesting, but they were. One was called Not I, Not Other Than I by Russel Williams about a man who became enlightened just through working with circus horses – fascinating! And the other one (that Dad recommended to me) was called There’s Nothing Wrong With You by Huber Cheri, which is all about how harsh we can be towards ourselves without realising it. It’s written in a really simple way – I’d love it if you kids would read a few pages of it.
R: No thanks.
Mrs H: But I’m sure, just like the majority of the human race, sometimes you tell yourself stuff like, “I’ll never be any good at that” or “Everyone else is cleverer than me” or “more successful than me” or “I don’t deserve blah blah blah”.
R: Yeah, sometimes.
B: Suppose so.
Mr H: I found it really helpful. We all need to learn how to be kind to ourselves.
B: Can I be kind to myself and not finish this yucky pasta but just have some ice cream instead? That’d be like two acts of kindness in one.
Mr H: Touché.