Here I am! Reading like a savage. Merciful christ I am never participating in another book challenge. At least not a 52-book one. IMMA READ WHAT I WANT.
I’v fallen into a splendid Berlin routine, though. I mentioned it in a previous post. Late mornings wrapped in a red blanket on the couch by the window with a gigantic mug of coffee and a used book from Saint George’s.
When this challenge is over I’m going to George’s EVERY DAY and picking out any book I want to read. But I’m barrelling through this challenge because I’m really bad at losing at stuff.
Some good and not-so-good reads for November.
ALONE IN BERLIN – HANS FALLADA
This book presents a richly detailed portrait of life in Berlin under the Nazis and tells the sweeping saga of one working-class couple who decides to take a stand when their only son is killed at the front. With nothing but their grief and each other against the awesome power of the Reich, they launch a simple, clandestine resistance campaign that soon has an enraged Gestapo on their trail, and a world of terrified neighbors and cynical snitches ready to turn them in.
**NOTE: I picked up “Alone in Berlin” because I loved the title of it. It made me giggle, and I recognized the author and I still had to read a book set in a different country. My choice was “Every Man Dies Alone.” Apparently this is just an alternative title–it’s the same book.
This might have been the first book I’ve read about the German resistance to the Nazis. It was an interesting read, because while most of the characters are pretty unlikeable, you still fall for them. A beautifully written story about some tough times in my adoptive country.
☆☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Qualified for “A Book Set in a Different Country.”
WAVE – SONALI DERANIYAGALA
On the morning of December 26, 2004, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami she miraculously survived. In this brave and searingly frank memoir, she describes those first horrifying moments and her long journey since.
I really don’t know how to rate Wave. What the author has gone through is too horrific to even wrap my head around. But there’s no relief from this book, it just weighs you down. At first, the author is infuriating. She takes out her grief on everyone. And it’s something I don’t understand, not even a little, so it’s hard to relate.
☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Qualified for a “book that makes you cry.”
TINY SUNBIRDS FAR AWAY – CHRISTIE WATSON
When their mother catches their father with another woman, twelve year-old Blessing and her fourteen-year-old brother, Ezikiel, are forced to leave their comfortable home in Lagos for a village in the Niger Delta, to live with their mother’s family. Without running water or electricity, Warri is at first a nightmare for Blessing.
But Blessing’s grandmother soon becomes a beloved mentor, teaching Blessing the ways of the midwife in rural Nigeria. Blessing is exposed to the horrors of genital mutilation and the devastation wrought on the environment by British and American oil companies. As Warri comes to feel like home, Blessing becomes increasingly aware of the threats to its safety, both from its unshakable but dangerous traditions and the relentless carelessness of the modern world.
Picked up Tiny Sunbirds Far Away at random because it had my initials, and was very pleasantly surprised. A riveting read, although the ending was too cheesy even for me.
☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Qualified for “a book by an author with the same initials as you.”
THE NIGHT CIRCUS – ERIN MORGENSTERN
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.
Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.
I couldn’t love The Night Circus, although all my friends rave about it. I was bored a lot of the time, and confused with the characters. The imagery was delicious, literally. All I wanna do is eat chocolate mice forever. But I think I’ve fallen out of love with fantasy themes.
☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Qualified for “a book with magic.”
THREE DAY ROAD – JOSEPH BOYDEN
It is 1919, and Niska, the last Oji-Cree woman to live off the land, has received word that one of the two boys she saw off to the Great War has returned. Xavier Bird, her sole living relation, is gravely wounded and addicted to morphine. As Niska slowly paddles her canoe on the three-day journey to bring Xavier home, travelling through the stark but stunning landscape of Northern Ontario, their respective stories emerge—stories of Niska’s life among her kin and of Xavier’s horrifying experiences in the killing fields of Ypres and the Somme.
**I couldn’t find a Newfoundland-themed book at my bookstore, and everything I wanted to read wasn’t available on Kindle. So I went with a Canada theme instead.
Clearly I’m Boyden’s biggest fan-girl. Three Day Road didn’t top The Orenda, but I was still entirely captivated for the whole ride. You don’t hear too much about the aboriginals that served in the world wars on behalf of Canada.
☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Qualified for “a book set in your hometown.”
FAHRENHEIT 451 – Ray Bradbury
Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.
Can you believe I’ve never read Fahrenheit 451?! Shame on me. I’m normally not into these indie-type social commentaries, but I loved this book. Eerie parallels in today’s world.
☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Qualified for “a book set in the future.”
ONE MONTH TO GO!