Books, Reading, Review
Comments 8

Eight Books, One Post.

It turns out that I managed to read eight books in November. That’s right, I somehow managed to read two books a week while frantically writing a crappy novel. I therefore could have written something a lot better and had more sleep, if only I had applied myself and read less. The downside to having read so many books over the last month, when my brain has not been as focussed as it should be, is that I remember very little of these books. At least, not enough to write an entire post as I normally would. So this one post is going to be a little bit about all of these books. Hopefully I can be brief!

1. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Follows the tale of a young man named Stephen Wraysford, who while living in Amiens in 1910, falls in love with the beautiful, but unhappily married Isabelle. But the relationship is not all that it first appears and as it breaks down, war breaks out in Europe. Stephen volunteers to fight in the trenches on the Western Front, where he experiences the horrors that only another person who had been there could truly understand.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “You can believe in something without compromising the burden of your own existence.”

2. The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman

This to me (while a great read), was your typical story set in a medieval type world, where there is a mysterious group about which little is known, but most people fear. In this case, it is the Redeemers of the Sanctuary who take boys from their families at a young age and train them to be unnaturally skilled killers, who will one day go off and fight in the holy war which the Redeemers are waging against their enemy. Luckily though, there is one rebellious student who has a freakish talent that surpasses those of his peers. Naturally he is rebellious and plots to bring the Redeemers to their knees. I really did enjoy this book, but I feel as though I had read it before, just with different characters and a different location. Give it a go if you enjoyed Enders Game.

3. Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson

I like to be thrilled every now and then, and this book did the job. Imagine waking up everysingle day and remembering nothing from the day before, or the last twenty years for that matter (50 First Dates anyone?). This is exactly what happens to Christine. Every morning she wakes up and doesn’t know who the man next to her in bed is. He explains to her that he is her husband and tells her about her life and what happened to her to cause her condition. But slowly, with the help of a doctor, Christine begins to remember her life and she begins to suspect that it was not a car accident that made her this way. A very quick read, predictable at times but with a twist at the end, it’s a good book to read while you’re between other books.

4. Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

You know how you think your family is a bit, weird? Well I can guarantee that your family doesn’t even come close to the adopted family of Augusten Burroughs. This is an eye-opening true  story, about the life of Augusten Burroughs himself, whose parents despise each other and as a result of this, he is sent to live with the family of his mother’s very strange psychiatrist. So begins a life of no rules in a crumbling Victorian mansion, where cleanliness is not a top priority and school is an elective. I promise you that this will make you feel better about your own crazy family.

5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Another one of those books I wish I had read ages ago. A similar sort of story to Hosseini’s other novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, set around the time that the Russians were kicked out of Afghanistan and the Taliban took control of the country. But while A Thousand Splendid Suns was from a female point of view, The Kite Runner is from a male perspective. Despite that, this book will have you feeling just as emotional as A Thousand Splendid Suns and wondering at the reasons that wars are fought. To me, war is futile and does more damage than good. These books also serve as a good reminder, that Afghanistan is not an entire country of terrorists – it is a minority of Afghanis that partake in acts of murder and the rest of the country is just as affected by this as the Western world is.

6. A Simpler Time by Peter FitzSimons

It’s pretty safe to say that Mr FitzSimons is now my favourite Aussie author. Which makes me sad, because I saw him in an airport a couple of years ago and didn’t say anything to him, now I wish that I had. I think that I might revisit this book at some stage and write a full post on it – I really loved reading this and I would like to share it with everyone. So for now, I will leave you with one of my many favourite quotes from it. This is taken from the chapter in which the FitzSimons family acquires their first television.

“The climactic moment comes when an old man makes a forceful speech to a young woman who has been so unhappy she has even contemplated ending her own life… ‘Marian…don’t you realise you have within you the wonder of the force of life, the same force that makes the flowers bloom, the trees grow tall, the birds to sing and the lion to roar. This force of life is a precious, precious thing and you must not waste a moment of it! You must suck the juice from the marrow of life and let it run down your chin!’ I look at my mum. Mum looks at me. That’s the way I want to live. Not pretty, not neat, but passionate.”

7. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre

What can I say about this one? I really liked it. It was super mysterious and I loved the character of George Smiley. But in the grand scheme of it all, I didn’t really get most of it and I had a little bit of trouble following it. But! I have bought the film adaptation of it and I am going to watch that to see if it enlightens me at all, then maybe I’ll try and read the book again. I did have a favourite quote though, so here it is: “The more identities a man has, the more they express the person they conceal.”

8. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Ironically, the title of the book does not relate that well to the book in the physical sense. At no point towards the end of the book, did I get the sense that it was ending. There was no climactic moment to finalise things, it just stopped. Before that, I was uncertain what the book was actually about – was it about life in general, or was it about regret? Whatever it was about, I don’t think that I would go out of my way to read this again. Except maybe in twenty years time when I might be able to relate to the main character.

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8 Comments

  1. Good briefs of the books. Of course I really disliked the Kite Runner and Running w/ scissors but I did enjoy Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

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  2. It sounds like you read some really good books! I haven’t read any of them, but I have a copy of The Kite Runner waiting to be read. Birdsong, Before I Go to Sleep, and Running With Scissors all sound great!

    It’s interesting to me how divided people are about The Sense of An Ending; it was so critically acclaimed, but most of the bloggers I’ve seen write about it felt really underwhelmed. I don’t feel much interest in it just based on the book’s description, so I don’t feel too bad about not reading it.

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    • After you read The Kite Runner, you should definitely read A Thousand Splendid Suns. It’s very interesting to read the same point in history from a male and a female perspective and I learnt so much about Afghanistan as a country just by reading these books. I think Khaled Hosseini has another book out next year and I’m really looking forward to reading that.

      I have started not to trust the opinion of critics. Many a time I have picked up a book that won this award, or that award, and I am left disappointed. But I can’t tell if it’s because I go into it with high expectations, or whether it’s because the book is genuinely not that great. I suspect it’s the latter in the case of this particular book.
      I’m beginning to think that critics are a completely different species to the rest of us – they certainly don’t have the same taste as the average Joe on the street. I wonder how many of them would actually go out of their way to read this again?

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  3. Some books on here I have read, and some that I plan on reading. I am glad to see you think similarly to me about The Sense of an Ending, I was pretty disappointed with that book. The ending seemed forced, like it was trying too hard to be shocking, which undermined what little crappy meaning there was in the story.

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    • I didn’t even find it shocking. Just, plain, I think that’s the right word. It didn’t seem like anything really happened, as though the author just sat down and wrote without having an idea of where the story was going. Does that make sense? It kind of reminded me of a person who speaks in monotone – you can’t even tell when they are excited.
      I’m glad this was only a short book, any longer and I think I would have gone mad!

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      • Yeah, I get exactly what you mean actually! It was a very bland book. And yet for all its blandness it came across pretentious, too.
        I think for me it’s one of the most disappointing books I have read in years.

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