Week five is here! How are you all doing? I really hope you and all your loved ones are safe and sound! Last week we had quite a sad themed list, so this week we’ll change tack a bit. Let’s look at the books that will keep you in their world, and away from the misery of this one, for a while – the long ones! In my subjective measure, those are the books over 350 pages, but you’ll find also books over 1000 pages here. What books do you like to immerse in for a long period of time?
Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
It is a book that touched a lot of topics I identified with. At the same time, it is a great story that is difficult to stop reading. The only thing I found a bit underwhelming was the end, but that’s just me being a cynic with a black heart. What surprised me was that talking about all those painful topics this book is a surprisingly easy read, a book that I didn’t want to put down.
Ghosts of Spain – Giles Tremlett
I really enjoyed this one, it is a portrait of Spain as seen through the eyes of an immigrant, from outside and yet from the inside. Writing is light and smooth, sometimes funny, but not trying hard to be comic. I don’t read much of non-fiction, but when I do I really like it when it’s like this: enlightening but also highly readable and thought-provoking. My Bigger Half was very happy when I finally finished this book because when I was reading it I’d recount every chapter to him over dinner. It is a book to be discussed with someone.
As good as the movies are it is worth reading the book, it gives you a completely different perspective, spanning over 1000 pages, allows King to build a multi-layered landscape, that no length of a move would have enough time for. King uses all those pages to paint a sprawling panorama of childhood lost in the past and regained as the ultimate challenge approaches. It is a tender picture despite all the evil things that go on, there are all the necessary artifacts of a happy childhood: bruised knees, a gang, a clubhouse, a bicycle that feels almost magical, sweets, summer, boredom. Just like Joyland was a praise of youth, It despite being horror is also a praise of childhood, of a time when in a way we are the strongest, despite being weak. Strong with the strength of possibilities that lay ahead.
London: The Biography – Peter Ackroyd
For me it was always one of those intimidating books, I felt that by living in London I am somehow obliged to read it and know more about the city that is gradually becoming ‘my city’ in my mind, but on the other hand, it is 800 pages long, there’s no denying that. Ackroyd challenged a monster and even if this book is not a glorious victory it is being marketed as it still is an impressive achievement.
Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold – Stephen Fry
Fry’s gods are as capricious as always, they’ll do anything out of lust, they will mercilessly punish any true or perceived slight against them. They also try their best to somehow keep the world in order. Fry’s affair with mythology is a joyful one, he dives into its depths head-first. It is best summed up by this sentence from the foreword:
There is absolutely nothing academic or intellectual about Greek mythology; it is addictive, entertaining, approachable and astonishingly human.
This book is mostly about culture and plot and characters are expertly used props representing that culture. I have to stress the word ‘expertly’ the story is interesting, the characters developed, there’s just more to this book than this one story. While A Gentleman in Moscow recreated a whole world in a hotel, this book is a sprawling panorama of the time and the country in turmoil and people caught up in it. Both books, however, have the ability to transport the reader to a completely different world and if that’s not the point of reading then I don’t know what is.
Special Topics in Calamity Physics – Marisha Pessl
To re-read or not to re-read?
This is the question we all probably ask ourselves quite often. I have only a few books that I re-read over and over again. This book was not one of them, but Kira at Sorry Television and Cathy at 746books have reminded me about it and how much I enjoyed reading it probably almost ten years ago, so I decided to give it a try. Was it different? Of course! Do I regret it? I don’t think so. Actually, given the current situation, I may return to it again. It is escapism embodied.
The Casual Vacancy – J. K. Rowling
I still haven’t read Harry Potter and I’m more and more afraid this ship has sailed. If you are in a similar situation read this one, you won’t regret it!
It is a book about everyday ordinary evil. The evil of negligence, the lack of compassion, involvement and empathy, the evil of indifference that we see and commit every day. It is not a pleasant read, but a scarily familiar one. Definitely one worth reading!
The book was fun and pleasant read even if it was long it didn’t feel like it and I felt a bit lost when I finished and had to look for another book to read. For me, it was a good combination of coming of age story, adventure, crime all of it written in wonderful prose. A treat, even if not always overly profound.
The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
For me, it was a book about the weaker and the stronger. About all different shades of discrimination, because of race, gender, beliefs. It is a book about colonizers’ arrogance, embodied here by Nathan Price, who never gets to narrate his story, almost as if he leaves that to others because it’s beneath him. It will not lift your spirits, but it will make you stop and think and it will make you a better person for it.
Books for the Lockdown – Happy and Funny
Books for the Lockdown – Dystopian and Depressing
Books for the Lockdown – Wise and Calming
Books for the Lockdown – Death, Dying and Grieving
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