21:54

My latest book read was Charlotte Mendelson’s Almost English. The book follows a Hungarian family (namely a mother and daughter) and their life in the UK. I picked the book because I was enticed by the blurb and by my curiosity of Hungarian culture.

My thoughts on the book? I was not overly impressed with the content because it seemed to lack depth. Just as I was starting to feel a connection with the characters; the book came to an abrupt ending. The last few chapters left questions unanswered and several loose ends. I suspect that the book is aimed at a younger audience hence the character and plot development is less established. This was a disappointing read in my opinion but I guess that’s what I get for choosing books on a whim! Onto my next venture!

Advertisements

22:14

My latest reading adventure was American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. My exploration of genres has taken me far and wide but I think this was my biggest challenge yet.

I believe most people have heard of American Psycho and know it to be quite intense. The first couple of chapters ease you into the life of Patrick Bateman. He is suave, good looking, fashionable, knowledgable in music, fashion and food, and comes across as a ‘normal’ guy. His violent and psychotic tendencies are not revealed till later on, shattering the illusion of normality. Patrick struggles with the reality of his life: drugs, women and working on Wall Street. His encounters with his victims increase as his interest in socialising in fancy restaurants subsides.

Going into the book with a few notions of the plot did not prepare me for the intensely detailed scenes depicted. I found some of the torture/murder scenes very graphic and difficult to read. I did the unspeakable and had to skip over sentences and paragraphs due to their violent nature. This very much added to my character profile of Patrick Bateman as a psychopathic killer.

Uncomfortable reading aside; the book was written very well with clear character development through out. Patrick starts off as a put-together, knowledgable man who has the world at his feet, nevertheless by the end he becomes dishevelled, shaken and one who has lost their grip on reality.

My next reading venture will definitely be one with lighter undertones!

21:12

The latest book I finished reading was To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It is such a well-known book but I found myself not picking it up until my mid-twenties. I never studied it in high school like some of my fellow twenty-somethings did, nor did I hear much about the actual plot of the novel.

Reading it at my current ages has allowed me to appreciate the depth of the story and of the underlying teachings. I also think that reading this after two of Khaled Hosseini’s thought-provoking books enabled me to have a more open mind, and a broader perspective.

I have always considered To Kill A Mockingbird a ‘classic’ book. One of those books that the wider population has read (or at least heard of). A sticker on my copy states ‘over 30 million copies sold worldwide’, which is quite the feat. I am glad to be able to experience such rich culture and detailed lifestyles through the power of the written word. I am also glad that my knowledge of history and its stories has broadened.

21:04

Recently I finished reading The Kite Runner and also A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

Both books were gripping with such an intensity that surprised me. I found myself reading the books in every situation I could: curled up in bed for the evening, on the bus to and from work, and squeezing in chapters before my shift. While not being particularly knowledgable of the culture, religion or background of the books I have found myself enriched through their teachings. The stories have given me a window into Afghanistan culture where the country’s wounds have been patched up time and time again. The hardships of the few in the books are in fact the hardships of many in reality. I found myself teary-eyed and empathising with the characters, rooting for them in their triumphs and sorrowful in their losses.

I am looking forward to purchasing the next book in the series. Hosseini writes in such an amazing way; a way which gets through all the emotion of a character and the nitty gritty details. These books have been a real eye-opener into another culture. They tell the reality of life in another land so strikingly different to my own. A well worthwhile read!

20:30

My most recent book venture was Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale. Sometimes it feels refreshing to break out of my usual book genres and to read something a little more extreme.

Takami writes with an intensity that is gripping. While the book boasts plenty of gore and violence, there is a depth to the character development and storyline which is enrapturing.

00:15

I recently finished reading The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. I found it a short yet informative read. It was a moving tale of innocence in a harrowing context. While it is in the school curriculum to learn about World War 2, the true devastation isn’t really felt until personal stories are told. I also recently wrote an essay comparing The Book Thief by Markus Zusak with another text, the context being of the same time frame. Both books make a great impact in depicting the lives of children caught up in the throes of war, living with the ideals of a ruler they do not know or understand.

The character of Bruno is easy to identify with. His curious nature and exploratory attitude allowed him to find and befriend Shmuel. This book was an eye opener into the effects of war, not just on the Jews but on the Germans also.

01:03

I recently finished reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. This was something out of my normal reading genre but it was an interesting and informative read.

My thoughts on the book? The book follows the story of the first fast food chains and how they got to where they are today: the triumphs, the law suits and the perseverance of the owners. The influence of the American fast food industry is vast and has seamlessly blended into our everyday lives. Each country around the world has a McDonalds chain; and the food is distributed to billions around the globe. It also raised issues of health and safety, factory accidents, employee benefits (or lack of), and union representation. Advertising for fast food is known to target children as their main audience, and it is widely accepted that the food is of a good standard to be consumed. Early fast food chains had problems with meat suppliers and turned to alternative ones which meant quality decreased as costs decreased. I found some parts of the book very fact-based with little comment from the writer. Scanning through the history of companies and their altercations and protests can be tedious.

While many have sworn off McDonalds and other fast food after reading this book, I am neither here nor there on the topic. There is no doubt that the food is convenient and cheap, but it is also unhealthy and produced in bad working conditions. I would recommend it as an intriguing read, and you can make your own informed decision on the matter.