Another very PhD-focused reading month, which meant that I only read the one novel (and even then, that was PhD-adjacent). I did enjoy it, though! My favourite read this month was Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark, which was way more thinky than I was expecting it to be and just very good in general.
Murder, Misadventure and Miserable Ends: Tales from a Colonial Coroner’s Court: Catie Gilchrist
Firstly, how gorgeous is this cover? More importantly, this was an engagingly written book with a feast of examples of the inquests held in Sydney between 1866 and 1889, with a few extra examples drawn from the media and plenty of background about conditions in Sydney during that era. I did find myself wondering by the end whether this might have been a fraction more exciting if there were a little more of a focus on the key stories in here, but I think that’s largely due to me reading it over two sessions; if I’d dipped in a chapter at a time, I don’t think I’d have felt the same.
Biofiction and Writers’ Afterlives: Bethany Layne (ed.)
A broad collection of essays about biofiction focused on authors. I was particularly interested in the earlier parts, as I’m not as excited by Virginia Woolf and films, but I think the inclusion of biopics was definitely a valid choice.
Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction: Catherine Belsey
I’m not sure I’d call over 100 pages very short in anything but the context of philosophy. That said, it’s a decent introduction to the subject that I think could have benefited from a clearer structure.
Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide: Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark
I loved this. Karen & Georgia are just as vulnerable and just as wise as on their podcast, and some parts of this spoke to me on a surprisingly deep level as someone who is a bit of a mess.
Biography in Theory: Key Texts with Commentaries: Wilhelm Hemecker & Edward Saunders (eds)
An interesting format, with past commentaries on biography positioned alongside current academic discussions of these commentaries, but a little fragmented in feel due to this choice.
Reassessing Foucault: Power, Medicine and the Body: Colin Jones (ed.)
A surprisingly readable collection of essays, given the focus on Foucault! I particularly appreciated the fact that there was a range of opinions on the usefulness of his theories, as usually books will come down firmly on one side or another.
Discourse: Sara Mills
A general introduction to different theories of discourse, with a Foucauldian focus. I appreciated its relative brevity for a work on theory, although I felt that it could have benefited from a concluding chapter summarising the author’s arguments.
Narrative And Social Control: Critical Perspectives: Dennis K. Mumby (ed.)
A selection of articles about narrative and power, which is heavy on dense jargonistic constructions in places. There is quite a bit of repetition between different chapters, as many of the individual authors summarise the same prior literature.
Discourse Analysis: An Introduction: Brian Paltridge
This wasn’t what I was looking for personally, but it’s a very clear textbook about linguistics-style discourse analysis.
Orlando: Viginia Woolf
I very much enjoyed this on a sentence and paragraph level, although slightly less as an entire work. It’s an extremely clever book, with an excellent sense of humour and some thoughts and images that really stuck with me.
Voices in the History of Madness: Personal and Professional Perspectives on Mental Health and Illness: Robert Ellis, Sarah Kendal & Steven J. Taylor (eds)
A diverse collection of essays that combines historical and activist writing. I particularly enjoyed the chapters by Jane Freebody on patient work in early 20th century French asylums and by Katherine Rawling on asylum patient photographs. However, there were some major issues with the formatting of the end notes to the introduction in particular, with zero consistency in referencing style from one note to the next!