Two months of this new year have flown past. It's been two busy reading months, as I decided to look less on my phone, and more into my books. That's also the reason I have not been blogging.
Here my short reviews of books I read in the past two months:
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
An emotional book, about two sisters who get separated after birth. The first two chapters tell of their very different lives, and each following two chapters follows the next two of their descendants. A beautiful debut novel about the slave trade,
and black history. 4/5
Call of the Wild, by Jack London
This book, told from view of a dog called Buck, is about how men abuse and exploit him for their own convenience during the Klondike Gold Rush. A beautifully written short story that leaves a lump in your throat. 4/5
(read for the Classics Club)
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë
“I imagine there must be only a very, very few men in the world, that I should like to marry; and of those few, it is ten to one I may never be acquainted with one; or if I should, it is twenty to one he may not happen to be single, or to take a fancy to me.”
“You may think it all very fine, Mr. Huntingdon, to amuse yourself with rousing my jealousy; but take care you don't rouse my hate instead. And when you have once extinguished my love, you will find it no easy matter to kindle it again.”
At times slow, but beautiful novel. Anne Bronte tells the story of Helen, wife of an alcoholic. She flees with her son, and comes to life at Wildfell Hall, under the name of Mrs. Graham, a widow. She falls in love with a local farmer, Mr. Markham, but can't give into that love, until the death of her husband. A truly heartbreaking story. Less dark than Wuthering Heights, but just as dramatic. 5/5
(read for the Classics Club)
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, by Eleanor Coerr
Even though not the most beautifully written book, it deals with a topic not many children's book touch: death. My boys and I were both deeply moved and saddened by the destructive power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. This book is short, and easy to read, but I would be careful to recommend this to children younger than eight or nine. Do I think this will become a children's classic? I honestly don't know, and it really depends on the fact if other books will be written on this subject. The writing isn't the best, as I already mention. There are a lot of short sentences, which gives it the feel or a book for lower elementary, but the subject matter is definitely upper elementary. 4/5
(Read for the Modern Classics Club Challenge)
Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen
“A fondness for reading, properly directed, must be an education in itself.”
This was my last full length novel by Austen that I had not read yet, and it did not disappoint. Ten years ago, when I fell in love with Austen's writing, I would not have loved this as much as I do now. No. We get to know the main characters well, the lovely ones, and the not so loved ones (Mrs. Norris!). I love how Austen shows the shallowness of some of her characters, and I enjoy getting all worked up about the less likeable ones. I'm not going to tell you about the plot, as there isn't all that much to tell without giving away spoilers. It's just a wonderful, feel good story. 5/5
(read for the Classics Club)
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“Yes, you live with your feet in the mud and there's no time to be thinking about how you got in or how you're going to get out.”
This book describes one ordinary day in a Russian labour camp: the cold, the sameness, the cold, the dreariness, the cold, the hunger, and mostly, the cold. This short read is well worth the time, and it will definitely make us appreciate our own comfortable life a bit more. It wasn't by far as graphic as I assumed it would be. 4/5
(read for the Back to the Classics Challenge and the Classics Club)
The Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie
“But I know human nature, my friend, and I tell you that, suddenly confronted with the possibility of being tried for murder, the most innocent person will lose his head and do the most absurd things.”
This was my first Agatha Christie novel (and a reread), and I enjoyed it a lot. I read this together with my oldest son, and we both loved the surprise ending. This will definitely not be my last Hercule Poirot book, as he's one interesting fellow. 5/5
(read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge)
Other books I read:
I try to kick off each year with a book I know I will love, and that's not too long. Hence, why I chose The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. Many friends have recommended this book, and the online reviews I read all seemed very positive. Unfortunately, for me this did not work out as well.
This is a book about a Father and son travelling south through an apocalyptic world, of barren wastelands and deserted cities, with all their possession stuffed into a shopping trolley, to avoid the harsh winter.
The story in itself is good, but his writing is not. McCarthy is clearly a fan of short sentences and phrases. To me it felt like a reader, something my six-year old could read, if I allowed him. He does not use quotation marks, apostrophes, colons or semi-colons. He also doesn't mind skipping verbs altogether.
McCarthy says of his grammar: “I believe in periods, in capitals, in the occasional comma, and that’s it.” See how I used quotations mark to quote him? Makes sense, right?
Overall, the concept is great. You feel the pain of the Father as he tries to protect his son. His writing however is not. In this case I say: go watch the movie instead, which is actually quite good. Do I believe this book to become a classic? Yes! There are so many people who absolutely love this book AND his writing, that I think it will become a classic.
Please let me know if you've read The Road, and share your thoughts on it, please.
No, no, no! Yes, I managed to go for another challenge. I can't resist any of these, and I managed to place certain books in multiple challenges. So, the biggest challenge may just be keeping track of all these different challenges.
This is the Modern Classics Challenge: books from 1968 onwards. The categories are just great; there's so much to choose from. I made an attempt to pick books I already own for each of these categories, as my to-be-read shelves are FULL.
Here my picks for the challenge:
1) Book from the 1970s
Interview with a Vampire - Anne Rice
2) Book from the 1980s
Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
3) Book from the 1990s
Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt
4) Book from the 21st Century
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
Galileo's Daughter - Dava Sobel
6) Biography or Historical Account
Gulag Archipelago - Aleksander Solzhenitsyn
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
8) Children’s Book
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes - Eleanor Coerr
9) A Banned Book
The Color Purple - Alice Walker
10) An Award Winning Book
All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
11) A Book in Translation
Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami
12) A Book Made into a Movie
The Princess Bride - William Goldman
If you want to join in, or if you are just curious, you can find the Modern Classics Challenge here.
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“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
“You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
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