Books Review: March 21

Crazy to think another month has come to an end. Time is going by so fast and books helped, especially when still in lockdown and nothing much going on apart from work. So, I read a total of six books in March, and I’m rating them down below.

The Shadow & Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

⭐️⭐️⭐️

In February, I felt the need to return to a genre I used to read a lot when I was in my teen years – YA fantasy. I read Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo, and fell in love with these books. Despite being YA, it felt very adult, profound and dark. They were not only fantasy. They had complex characters, beautiful storytelling, touched in so many different aspects of being human and alive. This Duology happens in the same world of Shadow and Bone, after the events described in the trilogy. I found out the adaptation of the series is about to be premiered on Netflix already this month. I was so excited about Six of Crows, I immediately bought the three books of Shadow and Bone on my kindle.

I’m really glad I read Six of Crows first because, to be completely honest, this trilogy was a little bit of a disappointment. I did read the three books very quickly, devoured them. But to be completely honest I think it was because I was searching for the same depth I had found in Six of Crows. I do love the world, and I found myself loving the secondary characters a lot more than the main character. All the characters surrounding Alina (the protagonist) felt so much more interesting. But contrary to Six of Crows (where I don’t think there is a protagonist per se) the author didn’t quite dive into their depths. Still, it is a good trilogy. But I think if had read it before Six of Crows, I probably would have given it a miss. So I’m glad I read the duology before this!

The Shadow and Bone felt more like a romance with some magic to it. It was mostly made out of cliche scenes. And, as almost every single time, I felt drawn to the so-called villains and found myself hating not only the protagonist as well as her sweetheart.

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed by Men, by Caroline Criado Pérez

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book had been on my shelf for a few months. I had been avoiding it because I knew it would make me angry. As you may see just by this post, I have a very diverse taste in books. I like to read a bit of everything, and often it depends on my mood. I don’t like to read something just because it’s sitting on my shelf. I like to wait for the right moment.

That was that with this book. I ordered it last year, but it was only this March, perhaps with International Women’s Day looming, that I picked it up. And oh dear, how angry it made me. It did not surprise me. But I still learnt so many things I had never even thought of. Like, have you ever thought about how your mobile phone is designed for men’s hands? That’s just an example. I guess it never crossed my mind because I’m a tall woman and my hands aren’t small hands. But still.

This is a read I recommend to anyone who wants to look at the world in a different light.The author exposes through multiple day to day examples how the world is designed as a “one size fits all”. And that one size, is men’s size. Even though women represent the other half of the population.

“The truth is that around the world, women continue to be disadvantaged by a working culture that is based on the ideological belief that male needs are universal.”

“Whiteness and maleness are silent precisely because they do not need to be vocalized. Whiteness and maleness are implicit. They are unquestioned. They are the default”

Caroline Criado Perez, in Invisible Women

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I feel at some point I need to write a post exclusively dedicated to Murakami. Is it just me or most of his novels are like pieces of the same puzzle? And no, I do not mean this in a negative thing. I love how in the strangeness of his almost surrealistic plots, there is something familiar. You are never completely surprised by Murakami.

This is his latest book. It is a big one, but it still only took me about a week to read it. The only reason why I didn’t give it five stars is that I feel some of the paragraphs were repetitive and providing the same information all over again. I thought it was unnecessary, but perhaps there is a meaning behind it. Maybe Murakami was simply trying to make a point about something that for me wasn’t really that interesting.

The story is about an artist, a portrait painter, who after his wife (seemingly out of the blue) asks for a divorce (The Chronicle of the Wind Up Bird vibes) moves to his friend’s dad’s house in the mountains, who was himself a famous Japanese artist before moving to a retiring home, with dementia. There he founds a painting hidden in the attic, and from there, a series of strange, eerie events, unroll. It involves being trapped in a deep hole (again The Chronicle of the Wind Up Bird vibes), a young girl who don’t speak much and is incredibly perceptive (1Q84 vibes), there are elements of strange relationships with the paternal figure (Kafta by the Shore vibes), and also exploring a strange land (The Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World vibes). And I still haven’t read some of his books, and others I read years ago. So I find it amazing how they all seem to fit together.

“what hurt me was actually me, myself. In the midst of that continuing, unsettled silence my feelings, like a heavy pendulum, a razor-sharp blade”

“None of us are ever finished. Everyone is always a work in progress”

Haruki Murakami in Killing Commendatore

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book was on my list since I watched Ratched on Netflix last year. After doing some research found out Ratched was indeed a character of a famous novel (apologies for my ignorance, but I didn’t study English literature, unfortunately, so I’m learning as I go along), and that novel is this one. If you haven’t watched the show, it portraits life in an asylum where Ratched becomes the head nurse in some morally questioning circumstances. You find more and more about Ratched with each episode and her true motives. And, because I quite liked the show, I had to read the book.

The book was a completely different experience. You don’t experience the story from Ratched perspective and the characters are completely different. The story is told from the perspective of a patient of asylum of American Indian origin who everyone seems to think is deaf and dumb. But well, he isn’t and gets to hear all the dirty secrets of the place and to observe what really goes around the place. He follows this almost unspoken battle between the head nurse Ratched, seen as cruel and cold, and a new patient, McMurphy, who was committed to the asylum and keeps defying the rules imposed by Ratched.

Oh, I loved this book. I actually only finished it yesterday (2nd of April) but I did read most of it in March. I had to re-read certain passages because they were so strangely beautiful. I don’t think the author meant for them to be beautiful, as they can be quite disturbing in their own way. I considered it to be a heavy read, that keeps you awake at night thinking about it. And the most interesting thing (not sure if because I had watched the series), I couldn’t pick a side. Was I on the patients’ side, or Ratched’s? The book doesn’t give us any peek into her life story, which could explain some of her behaviours. Perhaps she actually thought what she was doing was for the good of everyone. Or maybe not. Maybe she really enjoyed the feeling of power over those submitted and passive patients. But it is a very clear distinction – while we get to know a little of the story of each patient, Ratched continues to be that cold, iron made figure with no depth. Who simply says and does cruel things.

Give Ratched's Peach Argument All the Emmys
A clip from Netflix’s series Ratched – one of my favourite scenes

After reading a bit more into Ken Kesey’s biography, I found out he was voluntarily a guinea pig for hallucinogenic drug experiments, which meant he spent some time in an American Veteran’s hospital where he had the chance of talking to the patients. He didn’t believe these patients were insane, but society had pushed them away because they did not fit the conventional ideas of how people are supposed to act and behave. And yeah, this is what the book really is about and why I felt so strongly connected to it. All that’s “normal” has been defined by “society”. Hence, what’s normal in my society may not even be normal in a different country, where what’s conventional is a completely different thing. I think Ratched represents this society. And that is why she’s painted in such dark colours.

(…) perhaps the more insane a man is, the more powerful he could become (…)

(…) because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from turning you plumb crazy.

I had to keep acting deaf if I wanted to hear at all (…) I remembered one thing: it wasn’t me that started acting deaf; it was people that first started acting like I was too dumb to hear or see or say anything at all

And that’s all I read in March! If you’re into books as much as I’m, join me on Goodreads 🙂 Tell me about your favourite read of March!

Love, Nic

5 thoughts on “Books Review: March 21

  1. Caroline Criado Perez has written such an important book. I didn’t realise she had been made an OBE until I watched her judging the Great British Menu! I think history will prove that her writing is a watershed in perceptions of women.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. absolutely! i usually investigate the author after reading the book and that’s how I learnt about it. it’s definitely should be compulsory reading for everyone! thank you for your comment 🙂

      Like

    1. adoro, adoro, Murakami. Ainda me faltam alguns livros dele, mas coloquei-me a mim própria o desafio de os ler a todos este ano!💪🏻 (será mesmo um desafio…hahah)

      Like

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