What I’ve been reading

Elizabeth Costello

Thanks to my wonderful auntie, I’ve discovered my most favourite author ever: J M Coetzee. The first book I read of his was Elizabeth Costello. It’s about a woman who is a writer, and through a series of keynote speeches, and a interesting ending (which I won’t spoil), tries to come to terms with her purpose in literature. I won’t say much about the book, other that Coetzee is an absolute genius.

disgrace

Brilliant. I can’t get enough Coetzee. This book is about a South African professor who is disgraced when he gets a formal compliant from a student regarding his inappropriate relationship with her. He then goes to live with his daughter and the disgraces continue. It’s an insightful look into the male psyche and Coetzee’s writing style, with its restrained, crafted and powerful prose, is, in a word, inspirational.

Kafka

Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Wow. I loved it. Amazing story about a salesman who wakes up as an insect. I found the exploration of themes such as the economy, isolation, family and alienation very powerfully, and thought provokingly, interesting. I look forward to reading more of him.

Shallows

Wicked writing style. Really good, brilliant descriptions and powerful imagery. I started reading this book and was absorbed instantly. Totally absorbed. Halfway through I was enjoying the writing, but cared less about the story, and at three quarters, I didn’t care anymore at all. It’s my first Tim Winton book and probably was a poor choice to start with. I won’t discount him yet, but I won’t be rushing out to pick up another.

Love affairs

This was a really interesting and clever book. Beautiful writing style, packed with huge words (glad I read it on the kindle with built in dictionary), and is extremely insightful. It is about a man called Nate, he’s an author, reviewer and obsessively non0committal in relationships. The story revolves around the women Nate dates and the ideals and justifications that make or break the relationships. Nate is a sensitive, interesting guy who, in the end, comes to terms with some of his thinking. I liked it. Found it lacking in some respects, but great in others. Worth a read.

Jesus_Australia-678x1024

Currently reading Coetzee again, The Childhood of Jesus. Which, and not to put too finer point on it, is bloody amazing! This man is a genius. I don’t profess to have much understanding at what he’s alluding to in most of it, but, so far, I’m lost (in a good way) in it.

 


A few books of late

Well it’s been a while since I did a book review. So here is a very brief catch up on a few book I’ve read recently:

 

StrongSensitiveBoyThe Strong Sensitive Boy by Ted Zeff

Great book. It’s really a parenting book for parents with sensitive boys. I’m not a parent of such a person, however I am sensitive, according to all the evidence. Not sensitive in the mushy sense, but I have a heightened nervous system so noises, smells etc really have an effect on me. The book was insightful and I learned a lot about myself, which was the point in reading it. 7/10

 

The Night BookThe Night Book Charlotte Grimshaw

I loved it. She writes fabulously and the story was riveting and fun to read. The ending was terrible, but luckily there is a sequel. Well worth a read. 7/10

 

the-vintners-luckwebThe Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox

Interesting plot. A love affair between a wine maker and an angel. This story really was a lot of fun, beautifully written, although a tad over-descriptive at times, and had a strong plot. I read it in one weekend. And I see there is a second book to follow, though I don’t know that I liked it enough to read the sequel. 7.5/10

 

shadowofthewindThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Incredible. Easily in my top five favourite books. There is too much in it that it purely fantastic to really review it. Just go and buy it, you won’t be disappointed. 10/10

 

American_godsAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman.

I’ll be straight up with you. I hated it, but then I loved it, then I hated it worse, then I put up with it, then I liked it, then I quit at page 480 with 100 pages still to go. My reason for quitting is that it was just too disturbing. Not really my cuppa sorry, I know lot’s of people really love it. 1/10


Game of Thrones George R R Martin

game of thrones

 

Wowzer! Despite being mildly disturbed at times, I loved this book. It has been on my reading list for ages but I never quite felt in the right frame of mind to get stuck in. I’ve not watched the TV series, which I hear is amazing, and to be honest, from what I’ve read I’m not sure that I want to watch it. I’d heard lots of things about the book so had an idea of what it was going to be like, and it was nothing like what I’d heard. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it just turned out to be an epic fantasy novel, but a train-wreck of one, which I liked.

The main thing I liked was that the story was gritty in the sense that it was more grey than black and white; people made dumb decisions and lived with the consequences. People die, and that’s just the way it goes. I was getting a little tired of typical fantasy (Raymond E Feist etc) which is sooo predictable. My fave characters were easily Jon Snow and Danny. I’m interested to see where they go in the rest of the series.

Overall I give it a 9/10 for being engaging and entertaining.


The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

73.Eleanor Catton-The Luminaries

 

Well this book is quite a tricky one to review. On one hand I really enjoyed it, but on another I was rather disappointed.

It is a murder mystery set in the 50s, in the south of New Zealand. The plot revolves around twelve characters who are trying to figure out why a whore was overdosed in the street on the same night that a mad died silently in his lonely house.

My main criticism is that I was interested to know the outcome of the story, but I felt like there was no plot twist at the end, or anywhere for that matter. We got the gist of what what happened early on, and that is exactly what happened. I felt a little cheated. The book kept the same pacing throughout and I felt like it never really picked up.

But it was interesting, just not that interesting. It’s worth a read I suppose but I’m not sure I would ever consider re-reading it. I’d rate it a 4.7/10.


David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

davidg

Wow, it’s been a while since I did a book review. It’s actually been a while since I’ve finished a book. I’ve made the mistake of reading too many books at once, and not finishing any… Also I went on a Breaking Bad watching binge 🙂

So anyway, David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. I really loved it. It was an exploration of the advantage of disadvantage and the disadvantage of advantage. “You wouldn’t wish dyslexia on your child. Or would you?”

The book explores different people in different situations that have overcome some giants in their lives (hence the title), but also he looks at people who have reacted poorly to giants and made bad decisions. What I liked most about about the book was the story of the ‘Impressionists’ who had to rethink the way they expressed their art; would they be little fish in a big pond or big fish in a small pond. Also Gladwell wrote a very readable book. It flowed smoothly, was insightful and was free from tedium.

Overall I give it a 8.5/10 and would recommend it 🙂


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

night-circus-cover1

 

The previous book I read left me wanting something good, something great. I thought I found it at the Night Circus. I was dazzled and mystified, enchanted and excited. This book started out fantastic. If I could sum up what I felt about it: it was like reading Water for Elephants mixed with Harry Potter.

But it didn’t last. I zoomed through the first hundred pages, I managed through the next hundred and fifty and at 250ish I had to stop… It had lost all it’s magic. The story was slow, too slow and began to amble around in a stupor of boredom. So I, with a bit of disappointment, quit! Baaa… I hate having a run of crappy books. I need something really good. I’ve been thinking of picking up The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer… anyone read it, any good?

Overall rating for The Night Circus 3/10. Flat, but with so much potential.


A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham

shadow

Some are saying this book is a modern masterpiece and I would have been inclined to agree, would have. It started off amazing, compelling and unique. I raced through half the book and was both intrigued and a bit confused. It’s written beautifully despite some mistakes and packs a lot into each sentence. However at the halfway point it dragged on, and it’s already a very slow paced book. I managed to get to about 80 percent and then just could not go on, oh the boredom of it all. 

Not really worth the read but the video below gives a pretty good review of it. My rating, 2.5/10.