It’s been another couple months, so it’s time, once again, for a post about the books I’ve recently finished. I’ve spent a lot of time recently enjoying the cool air conditioning and reading good books, which means that I’ve well surpassed my initial reading goal of 12 books for the year. I haven’t decided if I want to officially change it on my Goodreads account tho. I don’t want to jinx myself and suddenly not have time to read anymore. Either way tho, it does feel nice to have finished more than a half-dozen books in the last two months.
The Shadow Land by Elisabeth Kostova
This book was an interesting read. Kostova’s ability to fuse past and present into one intricate story line made this story of communist and post-communist Bulgaria into one that I just couldn’t put down. I still think I prefer Kostova’s debut novel, The Historian, best but this book is definitely worth a read.
A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi and realizes too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes.Synopsis via Goodreads
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
I first read this novel sometime in high school or college, I can’t remember exactly, but it had been a while. So it was interesting to reread Brave New World so long after reading it the first time. There were parts at the beginning of the novel that were seared into my brain, but I had completely forgotten how the book ended. It also made me want to pick up another work by Huxley soon.
Aldous Huxley’s profoundly important classic of world literature, Brave New World is a searching vision of an unequal, technologically-advanced future where humans are genetically bred, socially indoctrinated, and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively uphold an authoritarian ruling order–all at the cost of our freedom, full humanity, and perhaps also our souls.Synopsis via Goodreads
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
I picked up The House on Mango Street because I had decided to read more classic works this summer and it was a classic that I’d never read before. I really connected with parts of the book. It was written in small vignettes – certainly not a traditional “novel” – but I quite enjoyed it. Mango Street was a quick read, and something that I will likely go back to again
Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous–it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.Synopsis via Goodreads
The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star by Vaseem Khan
This is the 3rd novel in the Baby Ganesh Agency series and I’ve really been enjoying these books about retired detective and private investigator Chopra. This one was particularly nice, because one of the main story lines involved the unich culture in Mumbai. It was just particularly nice to see a marginalized group like this depicted as more than a token to diversity.
Mumbai is a city that thrives on extravagant spectacles and larger-than-life characters. But as Chopra is about to discover, even in the city of dreams, there is no guarantee of a happy ending. Rising star and incorrigible playboy Vikram Verma has disappeared, leaving his latest film in jeopardy. Hired by Verma’s formidable mother to find him, Inspector Chopra and his sidekick, baby elephant Ganesha, embark on a journey deep into the world’s most flamboyant movie industry. As they uncover feuding stars, failed investments and death threats, it seems that many people have a motive for wanting Verma out of the picture. And yet, as Chopra has long suspected, in Bollywood the truth is often stranger than fiction…Synopsis via Goodreads
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
This was another novel that I picked up in my attempt to read more “classics,” and I quite enjoyed reading Jackson’s novel. I have difficulty picturing picturing the narrator as being as 18, because her internal monologue seems like that of a much younger child, but I’m sure that was precisely the point. It certainly gave the book a creepy edge.
My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise, I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.From the book flap
The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch
This book took me ages to get thru, not because it was a bad novel. It was rather good, in fact. It was because I was reading a digital copy of the novel, and I rarely read on my phone. I stare at a screen all day at the office, so the last thing I generally want to do is to stare at one to read, so I ended up switching the the audible edition of the novel. Once I’d done that, I was able to really get into this novel. I think I would definitely like to read the other books in the series, but I will definitely be doing audio or print editions.
Magdalena, the clever and headstrong daughter of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, lives with her father outside the village walls and is destined to be married off to another hangman’s son—except that the town physician’s son is hopelessly in love with her. And her father’s wisdom and empathy are as unusual as his despised profession. It is 1659, the Thirty Years’ War has finally ended, and there hasn’t been a witchcraft mania in decades. But now, a drowning and gruesomely injured boy, tattooed with the mark of a witch, is pulled from a river and the villagers suspect the local midwife, Martha Stechlin.Synopsis via Good Reads
Jakob Kuisl is charged with extracting a confession from her and torturing her until he gets one. Convinced she is innocent, he, Magdalena, and her would-be suitor race against the clock to find the true killer. Approaching Walpurgisnacht, when witches are believed to dance in the forest and mate with the devil, another tattooed orphan is found dead and the town becomes frenzied. More than one person has spotted what looks like the devil—a man with a hand made only of bones. The hangman, his daughter, and the doctor’s son face a terrifying and very real enemy.
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
This was another novel that I picked up as part of my attempt to read more classics. It’s such a dark book… and I feel like we’re living it. 1984 was supposed to be a warning, not an instruction manual.
The new novel by George Orwell is the major work towards which all his previous writing has pointed. Critics have hailed it as his “most solid, most brilliant” work. Though the story of Nineteen Eighty-Four takes place thirty-five years hence, it is in every sense timely. the scene is London, where there has been no new housing since 1950 and where the city-wide slums are called victory Mansions. Science has abandoned Man for the State. As every citizen knows only too well, war is peace.Synopsis via book flap
To Winston Smith, a young man who works in the Ministry of Truth (Minitru for short), come two people who transform this life completely. One is Julia, whom he meets after she hands him a slip reading, “I love you.” The other is O’Brien, who tells him, “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.” The way in which Winston is betrayed by the one and, against his own desires and instincts, ultimately betrays the other, makes a story of mounting drama and suspense.
I’m currently re-reading the lovely children’s classic From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. It’s a Newberry Award winner about a brother and sister run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and, while they are there, solve the mystery of the Angel statue the museum has recently acquired. Even as an adult, if you haven’t read this book, I recommend you pick it up. It’ll be a quick read, and is an enjoyable escape.
I’m also getting ready to start another Baby Ganesha Agency mystery by Vaseem Khan. This one is entitled Murder at the Gran Raj Palace, and looks just as interesting as the other have been.
What books have you been reading lately.