Wednesday, 21 January 2015
Reading Journal #3: A Bumper Reading Month
This month, I am in love with reading again. I always enjoy reading, but sometimes I get into a phase where I want to spend every free minute lost in a book, and happily that's where I am now. I'm reading during Giles' naps and all evening after he has gone to bed, and I'm simply loving it. What's more, I'm picking up some fantastic books too.
The Strange Library isn't really much of a story, and I read it in under an hour, but it had a beautifully haunting quality about it, a bit like a fairy tale. I'm sure there is some deeper meaning to all of the strangeness, to do with grief and obedience, but I was happy just to revel in it and enjoy the experience. It helps that this is a truly beautiful book, and the images add a lot to the story. Now that I've finished this one, I'm looking forward to exploring the more surreal side of Murakami, starting with The Elephant Vanishes, a collection of short stories I already own. 4 out of 5.
There was a Country is a powerful book. Achebe blends history, politics, memoir and poetry together to create a personal account of the time. Starting from his childhood during the British Empire, Achebe gives a brief overview of Nigeria gaining independence, and the problems that came after, before launching into the Biafran war. Achebe manages to impart a lot of information without it ever feeling dull, and the poems were haunting. Whereas the actual text occasionally lacked emotional engagement, the poems more than made up for it. Sometimes Achebe's straight-forward writing made the book all the more impacting, particularly when he was discussing the deliberate policy of starvation employed against the Biafrans, and the near-misses encountered by his family. My only complaint is that sometimes Achebe became too bogged down in names and individual events rather than showing the whole picture. But the tone of regret, of Achebe's sadness at the lost opportunity Nigeria's independence represented, permeates the whole book and makes it devastating. 4 out of 5
The Blue Castle has a lot of comic moments and a perfectly swoon-worthy love story, but at heart it's a coming of age story, about finding yourself and having the courage to make your own choices in life. I loved watching shy, obedient Valancy stand up for herself, and act according to her own personal values. In a way, this book was ahead of it's time, what with Valancy moving out, getting a job to support herself, and even making her own marriage proposal. The Blue Castle is a dream of a book, that made me smile, inspired me, and reminded me of the joys that life can bring. 5 out of 5.