First things first – Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great time celebrating the beginning of 2016 or, if you’re like me, sitting at home reading, watching TV, and crocheting (it was SO exciting) (not really, but I had a nice time anyway). Now to business.
The end of December also meant the end of The Twelve Books of Christmas challenge. I’m super happy to say that I completed the challenge and finished up with 14 books read for the month! This means that my TBR Towers are now 14 books less than the start of the month. Or, they would have been, had I not gone crazy and accumulated another 20 books in the final weeks of December. I’ll never be accused of having self control.
Here are the books I read in the final days of the challenge, and right below that is the full list of what I read this month. I had so much fun doing this challenge, and it was a nice way to wrap up the year. Thanks so much to Shaina for hosting – you really a star!
Tales of Natural and Unnatural Catastrophes
Author: Patricia Highsmith
Genre: Fiction (a bunch of weird short stories)
Release Date: 1987
This was a super weird collection of short stories written by the author of The Talented Mr Ripley, Patricia Highsmith. I didn’t really enjoy this that much and I was close to giving this book two stars, but Highsmith’s perception and portrayal of the society around her earned her book the extra star. I was expecting a collection of horror stories, but what I got instead was more of a commentary on things that were clearly playing on Highsmith’s mind at the time of writing.
Some topics of the stories, namely abortion (which pops up more than once), are still hot topics almost 30 years after this book was first published, which just goes to show how things don’t change as much as we think they do. My personal favourite of all the stories was the last – ‘President Buck Jones Rallies and Waves the Flag’ – in which years of nuclear tension between the world’s superpowers finally comes to a head and despite it being fiction, is not a far cry from what could happen in the future. But really what I enjoyed most was Highsmith’s ability to see the worst of human nature, enhance it, then put it into words. So while I may not have enjoyed the book as such, it certainly hasn’t put me off reading more of her work.
Author: John Milton
Release Date: 1667 (my edition is from 2014)
I started reading this all the way back in January and I was absolutely determined to get it read before the year ended. Unfortunately it’s a complete slog to read, so I purchased an audiobook to listen to while I read and it was actually the best decision I’ve ever made (I got this version here narrated by Simon Vance, if you’re wondering). I’m no poetry connoisseur, so I’m not going to attempt to dissect this and give any proper opinion of it.
I found the Adam and Eve bits quite tedious, but anything to do with the angels and the war in Heaven was pretty great. Satan is easily the best thing about the entire poem and as a character, I don’t think I’ve liked a villain so much in a long time. Yes he’s the bad guy, but the motives for his actions are, in some ways, reasonable and he proves himself to be the sort of leader you’d want to follow into a war – one who wouldn’t ask his followers to do what he himself wouldn’t. So he’s quite admirable in that respect.
More to the point, as a character he tempts us and seduces us into liking him when we know that it’s wrong, which is exactly what the Devil is all about, thus making the reader aware of the dangers of temptation in reality and that we must fight to overcome it. In 1667 that probably would have been a pretty big deal, but I take no moral lessons away from it and will instead unabashedly admit my love for Satan.
The Full List
- Mr Holmes – Mitch Cullin
- The Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
- The Long Green Shore – John Hepworth
- Montaigne – Stefan Zweig
- Ways of Going Home – Alejandro Zambra
- Suspended Sentences – Patrick Modiano
- Slade House – David Mitchell
- Girl With A Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
- The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion
- Richard II – William Shakespeare
- My Documents – Alejandro Zambra
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
- Tales of Natural and Unnatural Catastrophes – Patricia Highsmith
- Paradise Lost – John Milton