I’ve just changed my blog’s theme for a fresher look.
Even though I’m extremely busy these days, I feel like coming back on wordpress to post at least once a week. Because I do miss life here. I never felt left out – on the contrary, I met lots of people sharing the same passion for books. My days had a purpose – I’d read something amazing to share on the blog later. And I was always looking forward to my favourite bloggers’ next post.
Oddly enough my blog has been doing quite well without me – statistically speaking. I very rarely get less than 50 views and my number of views per day regularly peaks around 90. Today itself I got 97 views, which is quite crazy. All in all, that’s 62,241 in total. I wonder when it will hit 100,000!
Anyway, I hope people will react to this post. I can’t wait to interact with you guys, again! 🙂
I nearly forgot to write a post about the best books I read this year.Luckily there were bloggers who reminded me of it.
Despite not reading that much – there was a horrible hole of 3 months in my reading year – I did discover some gems that wowed me.They are listed in no particular order and you can find the reviews of each in ‘Why you should read…’ on the menu tab.(Or simply click here )
1.Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
What can I say! A beauty.Normally I need some 3-4 pages to fully get into a book,but the language was so fluid and accommodating that I let myself drawn into the story from the very first page.The way Tolstoy started his book has much to do for this – read it and you’ll know what happens at the beginning! And whilst reading it,I could very easily feel that it was no ordinary book.Breathtaking.
2.Lord of the Flies – William Golding
I don’t know why so many people didn’t like it.For me,it was stunning.Very few classics showcase the beauty of the English language as well as this book does.Besides it is superbly structured.Almost everything has a meaning and Golding very intelligently writes his story; he leads his readers where he wants.And the ending is just thrilling,my God! A terrific book that blends beauty of language with horror of content like no other.
3.Labyrinths – Jorge Luis Borges
I never knew people could write or think like Borges.Each and every story in this book stunned me.At the moment I’m writing this post,I feel like taking the book out and re-reading the stories.People say that if Borges were not an author,he would’ve been a physicist.True,for he makes the most of seemingly unusable elements like space and time.Moreover he was an extremely intelligent man; all of his stories just ooze originality.They provoke us and show us how conventional in our thinking we really are.Ever heard of the expression ”think outside the box”? This man,Borges,did just that!! If you see it in a library,buy it asap,for you’ll never,ever,see stories on TV or in books close to his in your life.
4.Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
I picked it with no great expectations.I was buying paperbacks on the net and had enough to buy a third,cheap,one.So I ended up with Things Fall Apart.I started reading it at 11:00 at night and devoured nearly 100 pages in 1 hour and a half.The language is sublime,with Achebe intelligently preserving the charm of the African culture in it.His narrative voice is intoxicating and hard to get out of.Also the moral of the story is really important,and don’t even think that the book is biased – far from it,it isn’t. A very important read.
5.Possession – A.S Byatt
This book and I didn’t begin on good terms.I found it very heavy and boring at first.But as the story unfolded itself,I got more and more intrigued by it.I still can’t believe that everything in it was pure fiction.Byatt has put in a monumental effort in the writing of Possession and I don’t think we will ever see a similar book again.The poems,epics,letters and factual documents were written with baffling realism.She also described the characters’ feelings with unbelievable exactitude.But,in essence,in the midst of its complexities,Possession remains a unique love story.
6.The Great Gatsby – F.Scott Fitzgerald
I love this book so much perhaps because I can relate to Gatsby.I think he is a fascinating character with a very poignant story.You can study the character over and over without getting bored.And the language: a beauty!Fitzgerald could describe any trivial thing in poetic terms.The story,too,was very well written in my opinion.It felt very much American and was reminiscent of the works of another giant,Tennessee Williams! I loved it,as expected!
7.Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
I know this book divides opinions.It got one-star reviews on goodreads as well as five-star ones.I ignored what it was all about,so the book caught me right at the start.I finished it very quickly because I felt connected with the characters and was eager to know who they are and what will await them.It is written with extreme pathos and I can’t believe it didn’t win the Booker Prize – though I know how close it was to doing so.Beautiful.The narrator is unforgettable.
8.Too Much Happiness – Alice Munro
The last book I read this year.Munro lived up to her reputation.The stories are delicately and very simply written,but are all accompanied with a twist that will give them their own identities.There are so many good stories in this collection that it is hard to select which ones I’ll talk about.They are heartbreaking,compelling and unforgettable.’Child’s Play’ in particular saddened me so much that I kept thinking about it for days.The ultimate story,the longest,by far,in this collection shows how talented an author Munro is.She not only amply deserved her Nobel Prize,but also will be mentioned in the same breath as other literary giants even long after her death.
9.The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Oliver Sacks
A non-fiction book.I bought it out of curiosity but it really changed my outlook on mentally ill people.Because of Sacks’ undeniable talent as a writer,the book felt just like a collection of short stories.The cases in this book are all different from one another and you’ll be introduced to terrible,nightmarish mental illnesses you’ve never thought of.But the book is not all about that.It shows you how most patients overcome their illnesses and what we can learn from their experiences.A very insightful book that will make you more empathetic than ever.
10.Of Human Bondage – Somerset Maugham
Nothing in particular happens in this book.You just follow the life of a young boy till he’s 30.It is a very huge novel,but one that will make you grow as a person.It was just the kind of book I needed before going to university.You can learn so much from Philip’s experiences and from the people he meet.Also because of its hugeness you will have this book around for quite some weeks and you somehow feel a certain bond between the main character and you.I won’t suggest this book to people,but if you happen to be interested in it even after reading the blurb,then go ahead,read it.After all,it’s Somerset Maugham’s masterpiece.
I hope you haven’t forgotten about me.I’ve been really,really busy these days and,even when I had some free time,I was just too tired to write something,hence the lack of reviews for the months of October and onwards.
Well,we are nearing the end,as only 5 school days are left before I’m on holiday.I’ll be heading back to my country and will try my best to catch up with you all and write some reviews.
I’ve also turned my life around lately,and I no longer sleep at 2; I make it a point to go to bed at 11 something and read a book for at least 15 minutes.After indulging in 4 short stories from Gabriel Garcia Marquez,I wanted to read something new and refreshing,so I picked Munro’s ‘Too Much Happiness’ again,and started reading the story I left the book at.This time I see myself appreciating her lyricism and style more; I’ve read 2 stories since I started re-reading the book and the two of them just stunned and moved me.Needless to say reading Munro during the night has become one of my favourite moments of the day.Yesterday itself,although I had a crucial test on the following morning,I couldn’t refrainfrom finishing ‘Face’,a very touching and – as with anything from Munro – very compelling story.I’m sure that 100 years after her death,people will speak of her in the same we’re speaking about Chekov now.
I’m also writing a review for ‘Waiting for Godot’,but I’m taking all my time and rephrasing things here and there,because I want the review to be good; I want it to convey the genius of Beckett and encourage people to give his magnificent play a chance.
Well,that’s all! I’ll end this post with two pictures of all the books I bought during my 3 months in England.If you wish to know why I bought any of them,feel free to comment. 🙂
Note: Click on the pictures for better resolution.They inevitably lose some definition when uploaded in a post….
Synopsis: A plane crashes on an inhabited island,with only a group of boys being the survivors.If at first they rejoice at the prospect of having an island all for themselves,they quickly realise that they must live in an organized way if they ever want to go back home.As time goes by,they find it harder and harder to abide to the rules of civilization,especially after learning that there is a beast on the island…
What you might like in The Lord of the Flies :
Could The Lord of the Flies be the only novel showcasing English language at its acme?Possibly,yes.The range of vocabulary is mind-blowing and you will encounter words that you most probably have never seen before in a book.Through the means of his flowery language,Golding gives a colourful and accurate account of the boys’ lives on the island and such vividity is the reason for which readers are greatly moved by the events in The Lord of the Flies.
The story begins rather slowly,but as from the third or fourth chapter,events follow at a very rapid pace.There is no part in the book where things calm down; instead the storyline slowly crescendoes to its climax.For this reason,you will never be bored with that book and will find it hard to put down.
While teaching at Salisbury,William Golding would divide his pupils into gangs,start a fight and observe the reactions of the boys.So Golding knew what he was writing about in The Lord of the Flies and thus delivered a realistic rendition of human behaviour in this book.Nothing in the story looks absurd,yet no artifice is needed to beautify it.
As I said before,adding to the realism pervading through the story is Golding’s vivid language.The presence of these two factors results in your being very sensitive to what happens on the island.The least I can say is that you will feel,to the exact degree,the crescendo of fear that takes place in one of the characters by the end of the story,and that will leave goosebumps on your arms!
The climax of this book,for me,is one the most memorable and best scenes in literature.William Golding exposes a very crude truth to us,and we cannot help but acknowledge it,as events inside and outside the book give weight to Golding’s words.Also for that very important scene,Golding has selected the best words and the best sentence structures to ensure that this climax will have a lasting impact on his readers.
The book is divided in about a dozen of chapters,each of which starts slowly before gradually reaching its own climax.By the end of each chapter an incident of major importance to the novel will have occurred,and as a result,you will always want to follow the chain of events and that will lead you to the next chapter.Thus the structure of these chapters is yet another reason why The Lord of the Flies never turns dull to the reader and is so hard to put down.
I’m a huge fan of allegorical stories,and The Lord of the Flies did not disappoint me at all in that respect.Every event in the story is relevant to the allegorical message and some were so subtle that it was a challenge for me to decipher their meanings.What is peculiar with The Lord of the Flies is that it can be interpreted in many ways.Indeed it can be seen as an allegory about war,human psychology or civilization.To this day people are still debating over what the story was meant to allegorize.For my part,I wrote about the novel’s allegorical representation of war,which I find more plausible: here it is.
I just want to point out that the book is not big at all.To give you an idea of its size,it is about the size of To Kill a Mockingbird and could even be smaller.So no matter what kind of reader you are,the size will not be an issue with The Lord of the Flies.
The book was written in 1954,but its age is never felt in the story,not only because of the modern techniques used by William Golding,but also because of the absence of archaic literary elements.It is timeless and as relevant today as it was years ago.
What you might not like in The Lord of the Flies:
Sure,I said that in The Lord of the Flies,English language was at its acme,but it might be a problem to those who are not much acquainted with English or who are not willing to take a dictionary to check out the definition of the words.
It is natural that with Golding’s vivid narration,the reader will inevitably encounter gruesome details and scenes as he/she is reading the book.There are some very bloody and violent scenes in this book,but one in particular is horrible.This book is not for kids,and if you want to read a lighter and more jovial classic,skip The Lord of the Flies for the time being.
Verdict: It is very unusual that I write so many points about one book,but The Lord of the Flies is a masterpiece for so many reasons.It is a book upon which Golding has put much effort; it is a quick and very intense read; it is perfectly structured and beautifully narrated; its freshness is everlasting; it is unforgettable.But although I cannot find any flaw in it,I can understand some people not liking it for the gruesome details and the flowery English.All in all,this book is among the greatest works of literature and totally deserves to be read whether or not you’re into classics.
Synopsis: A man wakes up to find that he has been arrested; however neither the nature of his crime nor that of the authority prosecuting him is revealed to him or to the reader.
Reasons why you might like The Trial :
There are quite a few mysteries lurking in this book,and when you manage to grab some information about the authority,the crime or the ways to avoid execution,you just want to read more and more. In short, the more you discover, the more you want to know. Besides,the incredibly hot pace at which events follow in The Trial contributes even more to making it a compelling book.
2.The Focal Point.
Right at the beginning, we sense that there is a very strong focal point in the story.And Franz Kafka never loses it in sight,as each and every thing he includes in the story (the dialogues,the characters,the events,etc) is relevant to K’s quest.This is a very intense book.
His name is Joseph K,but he is referred to as ‘K’.Why ‘K’? Because Kafka didn’t want to give him an individuality,in which case the character would seem to be living his own adventure.’K’ is not a name,but rather a code name purposed to identify the protagonist.Why did Kafka feel the need to give him a code name? Simply to help us to better identify with K and his quest: his adventure is ours; K is us.
4.The Depth The Trial is very deep in meaning.Some see it as a parable,others see it as an extremely poignant story focusing on the ruthlessness of bureaucracy.But irrespective of the way you choose to see it, The Trial will not leave you indifferent.It is a timeless and unique masterpiece.
As we go through the story,we see how K gradually turns sick.And as he becomes so, we feel a certain compassion for him,for we realise that there is much realism underlying his absurd ordeal.In short,we are as horrified as K;Kakfa has succeeded in transcending the barrier between fiction and realism.
6.A New World.
Oddly enough, the first book that came to my mind when reading The Trialwas Alice in Wonderland.In his book,Franz Kafka introduces us to a bizarre world where every thing is eerier than the other and which is,thus,reminiscent of Lewis Caroll’s wonderland.
What you might not like in The Trial:
The English translation of the old German used by Kafka when writing his books is not as modern as the English from Golding,Huxley,Lee etc.While it is not at all archaic,it is quite hard to follow and not so fluid as you might wish it to be.
2.The Required Concentration. The Trial is not an easy read.To keep track with the storyline,we have to understand and memorize all the complex legal terms in the book.Our task is made even more difficult by the novelty of those terms,for keep it mind that the world in this book is totally different from ours.
Like most Kafka’s other works, The Trial is unfinished. While it does have an ending,it nonetheless lacks some pieces of information that would have rendered its storyline more coherent.Some pieces are obviously lacking to the puzzle,and we have to imagine what they look like to get a better idea of the puzzle’s holistic appearance.
Verdict: The Trial is a cult book which easily belongs to the likes of Catch 22,The Outsider, Catcher in the Rye or 1984. It is unique in every aspect: the theme,the characters,the bizarre world and the author’s style.And what I liked best with this book is that it grows on you.After reading The Trial and getting back to living your life, you’ll note that Kafka’s novel wasn’t as absurd and fictional as it might have looked; 88 years after its publication, this literary gem is still extremely relevant to the present world.You will definitely enjoy it,as long as you seek meaning,and not beauty,in it.So if you want to read a beautiful book,then don’t go for this one.
One of my favourite quotes is from Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger: ”We live in a world where people like telling you what you don’t have and not what you have.I try to tell my players what they have.” It is with Wenger’s philosophy that I set this blog and write my posts.
My blog has two aims: to show people the beauty of books and to encourage and help them pick the one that they will most likely appreciate.I reckon that every novel is worth a read and I do my best to reveal their beauty in my reviews.I however know that tastes differ,and thus objectively point out those characteristics of a novel which might not appeal to everyone – I believe it is essential to do so,lest the reader is disappointed with the book as a result of having had wrong expectations from it.You can see my reviews here.
Before I continue,I wish to point out that you will not find young adult fictions here.I mostly read classics or nominees and winners of prestigious literary competitions – I’m on a quest to read the best books of all time.
I have been studying English in Literature and Mathematics concomitantly for a good while,but I had to make one choice for university,and I opted for the latter.This blog is a way for me to keep my passion for literature alive.I like looking for allegories,symbolisms,meanings and fun facts about authors and books over the net and sharing them here; my blog is both a place to share my fondness for reading and one of interest for random visitors who wish to know more about a book they have read or are about to read.I hope you will be interested in my articles and have fun browsing though my favourite quotes and some trivia I have found over the net.
Finally this blog being a virtual token of my love for books,I regularly post pictures of my latest book haul here.I am also a member of the Folio Society and it is only on this blog that I let this fact known.If the books I bought are of any interest to you,please click here.