Books mean a lot to me. Books led me to my other passion for travelling. Growing up, I didn’t travel much outside of the country. My family was the kind of taking summer holidays by the beach and, for that, we didn’t have to go far. Travelling abroad was just too expensive, a luxury we couldn’t quite afford. But guess what I was doing in the beach? You guessed right. I was reading. I spent my school holidays reading, devouring books, constantly asking my parents for more, borrowing them from my neighbor, saving every single coin for a new book purchase.
Because no one else in my family enjoyed reading, I think it was difficult for them to understand. For me, the main problem always has been that I never had anyone to recommend me books, guide me through developing a taste, to discuss them with. Books have pretty much been the way to escape reality for me. A way to travel to exciting new places, real or unreal. Live other lives. Books educated me. Raised me. Nourished with knowledge, made become an independent woman with principles of honor and integrity that I abide for. They kept me company. Often, too often, they still feel like my only friends.
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.George R. R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
As adult, I was able to start travelling and that didn’t keep me away from my books. Because after a long day at work, I still need to escape. I still need to feel my mind is going somewhere else, looking through different eyes, searching for new fresh perspectives. And it wouldn’t be right for me to neglect this love of mine by not writing about it here. Especially now, a time when books have been such a salvation for me.
I’m a very hectic reader. I basically like to read a little bit of everything from fiction to nonfiction, from fantasy to biographies. I always take something good with me. I may say I don’t enjoy much the romance genre. But other than that, through anything at me, I may be interested. And the books I’ve read since January to February are a reflection of this.
I wanted the share the books and a brief opinion on them 🙂
A Promised Land by Barack Obama
This was the best book I could’ve read to start out the new year. It filled me with a sense of hope and purpose I hadn’t felt in a while. Through Obama’s words we get to understand what it is like to be one of the most powerful man in the world and still see his power so limited with the constraints of politics – politics that don’t seek the welfare of their people and the world we live in. Still, his pages, made me feel hopeful. I guess I could feel the shimmer of faith again. And Obama’s humour made this heavy read a lighter one.
“I suspect that God’s plan, whatever it is, works on a scale too large to admit our mortal tribulations; that in a single lifetime, accidents and happenstance determine more than we care to admit; and that the best we can do is to try to align ourselves with what we feel is right and construct some meaning out of our confusion, and with grace and nerve play at each moment the hand that we’re dealt.”Barack Obama, A Promised Land
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Jeez. I hated every single character on this book. Even though I recognise it is an excellent piece of literature, well written, disruptive in its time, I was reading it in angst. Perhaps I missed the point there. It portraits a the life of an erratic American in Paris, who discovers his homosexuality with Giovanni, a completely crazy (like sociopath crazy), extremely needy and misogynistic man. He keeps it a secret from his girlfriend (who he had asked to marry him by the way) who has been travelling solo throughout Spain before deciding what to do with her life. When she gets back… well can’t say anymore or I’d spoil it.
Somebody,” said Jacques, “your father or mine, should have told us that not many people have ever died of love. But multitudes have perished, and are perishing every hour – and in the oddest places! – for the lack of it.James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room
After the Quake, Haruki Murakami
I have yet to find a book I don’t like of Murakami. This is a collection of 6 short stories all being somehow related to a big earthquake in Kobe. I just adore the weirdness and the somehow whimsical elements Murakami adds to seemly normal and everyday scenes. I didn’t quite grasp the meaning behind a couple of the stories, and that’s the reason why it doesn’t get 5 stars.
Strange and mysterious things, though, aren’t they – earthquakes? We take it for granted that the earth beneath our feet is solid and stationary. We even talk about people being ‘down to earth’ or having their feet firmly planted on the ground. But suddenly one day we see that it isn’t true. The earth, the boulders, that are supposed to be solid, all of a sudden turn as mushy as liquidAfter the Quake, Thailand, Murakami
The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela (I read the Portuguese Edition)
This was a Christmas gift. And it most definitely isn’t an easy read. Letters Mandela sent from prison to his friends and family were curated to create this book. It took me ages to finish because there were a few things bothering me:Not being able to read the responses to his letters
1. Not being able to read the responses to his letters
2. It was repetitive and that frustrated me – Mandela’s letters were often confiscated, deviated completely censored, so they wouldn’t be sent. Or letters from his friends and family were never delivered to him. We see so many letters he wrote to the prison directors asking to solve this problem… I guess the objective was for us to understand how painful it was for him to be even more isolated and with no control over his future.
On the other hand, the resilience of this man is more than inspiring. He never seems to complain about his situation, never showing signs of suffering to his friends and family. He never gave up his studies. He never stopped motivating children and grandchildren to pursue their studies and aim high, regardless of being boys or girls. This book only made me admire Mandela even more.
The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson (I read the Portuguese Edition)
It was also a Christmas gift. Very simplistic plot and characters. I really can’t say I liked it. America is of course under threat. And the president if of course the good guy. Muslims and Russians are involved. Cliché.
The Six of Crows and Crook Kingdom duology by Leigh Bardugo
No mourners. No funerals.
I had forgotten what it was like to read YA and fantasy. Honestly, why did I ever stop? I was meaning to start reading this genre again (since GoT, which isn’t YA, I hadn’t touched fantasy) but other stuff was coming to me. I got Six of Crows ebook on my kindle and I read it almost in one sitting. Then I found out Netflix will be doing an adaptation coming out in April! I read the Crooked Kingdom and it emotionally broke me. Last time this happened to me was with Murakami’s masterpiece 1Q84. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED everything about these books. The characters, the schemes, the world. The characters are complex, deep, with a story and develop beautifully throughout the books. This is not your typical YA fantasy book. Bardugo is able to insert all kinds of modern themes – the characters are culturally and racially diverse, there are multiple sexualities involved, characters deal with their own prejudices about race. And it’s so fluid you wouldn’t assume it was done on purpose. It is just too real to be fantastic. I’m now reading the Shadow & Bone trilogy and thank you Leigh Bardugo for this
When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows
It’s shame that lines my pockets, shame that keeps the Barrel teeming with fools ready to put on a mask just so they can have what they want with no one the wiser for it. We can endure all kinds of pain. It’s shame that eats men whole.Leigh Bardugo, Crooked Kingdom
And this is it!
I know this is outside of my typical travelling posts, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it anyway 🙂