July was a strange month but reading-wise, successful - I finished eight books mostly because I had three weeks off from work. Now usually when people talk about all the books they are gonna read whilst on holiday I frown because it doesn't work for me - if I go somewhere, I have huge concentration problems when it comes to reading. However, this time we stayed mostly near Helsinki (Robert fell ill - of course - and I had my own problems with my mental well being because summer is tough time like this) and I read a lot.
Dune, Frank Herbert - it was my second attempt with Dune and this time I finished it, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Amongst the buddy read people, some people didn't finish and the things they said abou this book kind of brought back memories from my own first read, so it goes to show how timing matters. It's a sci-fi classic definitely worth a try. 5/5
In the Miso Soup, Ryu Murakami - a short read about an American in Japan, a lot of focus on cultural differences and conflicts they create. I enjoyed the book (and want to read other Ryu Murakami books), but I am careful when recommending this one because of its graphic contents. 4/5
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini - this wasn't the book for me, review here. 2/5
The Fall of Hyperion, Dan Simmons - I think Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion are among my favourite reads in 2014 so far. Simmons is a genius and this requires at least one more read to absorb as many references and tidbits as possible. I've ordered the third book in the series, Endymion. 5/5
When We Were Bad, Charlotte Mendelson - it was a random buy from the Book Depository sale (not that random though because I think it was shortlisted for Women's Prize), and it was quite a random reading experience as well. It's a family story and it had its humorous moments, but the characters... I mean, I love dislikeable characters more often than not, but a few of those were also complete idiots, and this I cannot handle very well. 3/5
Truth & Beauty, Ann Patchett - this must be the first book ever I have been unable to give a rating. It's a piece of non-fiction, written by Patchett about her friendship with poet Lucy Grealy, and it is a beautiful, beautiful, emotional book. However, as non-fiction, I feel conflicted about its contents. Lucy Grealy's Wikipedia page says that "Her sister, Suellen Grealy, is opposed to Ann Patchett's depiction of Lucy in Truth & Beauty. She claims that Patchett and the book's publisher Harper Collins stole the Grealy family's right to grieve privately." After I had finished the book, it got me thinking that there is no mentioning of Grealy's immediate family at all. I wasn't even aware that she had a sister. Naturally it got me thinking how much else was left out. I understand it is Patchett's take on the relationship, but I felt a bit disturbed in the end. Why did she write it? And how much is this book result of her own feeling of guilt towards Lucy Grealy? So although it was a great read, I cannot possibly rate this book.
Totu kuul, Nikolai Nossov - one of my childhood faves, this book is a hilarious bashing of American society written by a Soviet author. Basically, there is Earth, where life is good, vegetables and fruits are huge and money does not exist. And then there is Moon, where live other kind of creatures - they rip each other off, love violent movies and their vegetabels and fruits are tiny (because everything is greater and bigger in Soviet Russia...) Objectively rating, this book is worth 1 or 2 (maybe 2 because it is funny), but I can never give it any less than 5/5.
The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters - my first Sarah Waters book, and unfortunately I am not exactly overwhelmed. The beginning was very promising, but there were major pacing issues in the middle (pacing issues in a spooky novel definitely have a negative effect on the whole experience because you kind of fall completely out of the spook aspect...), but I loved the whole gothic atmosphere and where some of the characters went. 3/5
I definitely want to try Sarah Waters one of these days -- not sure which book I want to start with, though her new one coming out this fall sounds excellent.ReplyDelete
I don't know anything about her new book (except for the fact that it exists) but I think Fingersmith is something usually recommended by her. I will try that one next - likely :)Delete
I am so glad you liked Dune! Also, I've already downloaded The Fall of Hyperion and now I'm pondering if I want to re-read the first book first :) This Nosov book about moon was my least favourite, I think. I was very little but still very aware of all the satire and ideology, and it irritated me so much I couldn't enjoy the adventures which were the only thing that interested me in books at that time :)ReplyDelete
I was an unusually clueless child, so all the red propaganda in many of the books I read didn't disturb me at all. Several of such books are still my favourites, though now of course they provide quite a different read. The moon book is the only one I've read - I know there was another one translated into Estonian, but we didn't have this one. If I found it somewhere right now I'd definitely buy and read it :)Delete
I hope you enjoy The Fall of Hyperion, maaan this was such a good book.
I remember reading In The Miso Soup when I was about 15 and I've never hated a book so much in my life. But that was when I was still young and innocent and was still fazed by graphic contents. A lot has changed since then. It might actually be fun to try now, four years later... SHUT UP! I'M 19 FOREVER!ReplyDelete
When I was younger I was quite into graphic content (I liked to be shocked), now lately I've become more "meh" about it (guess I've seen quite a lot of it already). Miso Soup imo wasn't too bad, I can recall one really "colourful" scene and the rest was more quiet. It was more of the whole atmosphere and especially characters that were really, really disturbing for me.Delete
I felt really sad when I learned a bit more about Lucy Grealy's family and their opposition to Truth and Beauty. I can't imagine feeling that the major depiction of your loved one that existed out in the world was completely wrong.ReplyDelete
Re Sarah Waters: The Little Stranger is not my favorite of her books, if that makes a difference! Fingersmith is her true masterpiece. Read Fingersmith.
Yes I'm still feeling a bit iffy over The Truth & Beauty. It's beautifully written though.Delete
Re Waters - I'll be definitely trying other things by her.
Sorry you've not been feeling too great over the summer, sometimes it's worse when you have time off and don't have a schedule to stick to. I'm glad you got to read some great books though :)ReplyDelete
Thanks Sam, that's exactly it. I need vacation but the daily routine is what usually keeps me from going mental :)Delete
You have me really, really excited to read Dan Simmons.ReplyDelete
I hope Robert is doing better! Poor guy.
I would be really excited if you decided to read Dan Simmons! Robert got better in a few days' time, he's such a bad eater that any little sickness is like a really bad thing for him.Delete
Summer is such a crazy time isn't it. Fall is right around the corner so thank goodness. I can't wait for routine again and quiet days at home reading. :)ReplyDelete
Fantastic wrap up! You read so many great books in July. My fave was Fall of Hyperion.
Summer is WEIRD. Can't wait for fall! This will probably remain my most productive reading month of the year :)Delete
Kite Runner wasn't a book for me either. Your comments about the Ann Patchett novel are interesting, I think it is a very valid question to ask why someone writes a book about a real life event close to them and what that means for the other people whose lives are (or aren't) depicted. Thanks for giving me something to think about!ReplyDelete
I'm not happy that you didn't like The Kite Runner, but I am relieved that someone shares my un-enthusiasm :)Delete
Oh I love that version cover of Dune - so perfect. I think I'm feeling like some Dune now....ReplyDelete
It's a really nice copy with illustrations :)Delete