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!

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.

00:37

‘He knew why he wanted to kiss her. Because she was beautiful. And before that, because she was kind. And before that, because she was smart and funny. Because she was exactly the right kind of smart and funny. Because he could imagine taking a long trip with her without ever getting bored. Because whenever he saw something new and interesting, or new and ridiculous, he always wondered what she’d have to say about it – how many stars she’d give it and why.’

Rainbow Rowell – Attachments

23:42

I recently finished reading The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I think I started reading the book with too many expectations drawn from the media’s explosion over it because of the film adaptation. From many peoples’ reactions to the film I expected to cry and be sucked into the story of Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters, but mostly I expected to cry.

As I always try and read the book before watching the film adaptation I did just that with TFIOS. I know that the film has been very popular since its release but I have yet to see it. The book I found to be a little disappointing and not up to the hype of the film. Maybe this was caused by the blown up ravings of a younger audience or my own level of expectations. I will say that it is well written and gives the reader a snippet into the life of a cancer battler. I feel like I should have enjoyed it more, nevertheless I am glad I read it.

Did I cry? No. I felt a certain sympathy for the characters involved but not to the point of tears. As a twenty-something, I feel the target audience of this book was not for me. I always thought I was connected with the youth culture of today however this book enabled me to see the disparities between me and my younger peers.

00:33

I  finished reading Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. I think my brain is still trying to process the story as a whole rather than as individual plots.

I found the book quite a slow starter but as I got to the halfway mark it quickly picked up. I actually read the latter half within 3 hours on the same day whereas the first half I picked up and left off quite often over a week or so.

There were a lot of interesting ideas and cultural teachings to be gained from the book. There were times where I forgot that the book had been translated into English, and that is a wholly Japanese book. Notions of suicide and mental illness seem to be addressed more informally in Japanese culture in comparison to the Western world.

This is not your average love story. Expect to become attached to the main character, to feel the lulls when he does, and the highs when he does too. I thought it was fairly dark in some places and some concepts were difficult to grasp (due to my own inexperience and lack of knowledge).

I look forward to reading more from Murakami’s collection.