Mid-Year Resolutions’ Evaluation

It feels like 2017 just started some weeks ago, but we’re already halfway through the year. So, this felt like a good time to evaluate if I am on track to achieve the goals I set for the year regarding both my reading and the blog.

One of the goals I established was to try to read graphic novels again. I was never much of fan, not even as a child, but some of the illustrations have been catching my eye recently. So far, I’ve only read one, The Black Project by Gareth Brookes, and there were both things that I liked and disliked about it. I plan to read The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg this summer.

Other genre I also don’t read that much is non-fiction, at least since I’ve finished my master’s degree. So, I was hoping to read more non-fiction books this year. I haven’t done so yet, but I plan to read a couple in November. I currently have The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria by Janine di Giovanni and The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell on my TBR pile. Continue reading

Mixed-Media Books

When I hear the word ‘book’, a picture of a sequence of letters springs to mind. However, I’ve read a few books in recent years that make use of additional mediums to help convey the message of the story. Those can be called mixed-media books, since visual elements accompany the more traditional text. These extra elements can be either relevant documents, changes in the design of the page or the text, or a piece of artwork.

One of the types of mixed-media books has traditional text as the main medium, but also includes letters, emails, webpages, social network status, conversations on online forums or interviews. These can either be used to show what the characters are reading or as direct information to the reader. Throughout the decades many books have featured letters, for example, although graphic elements were not always used to visually set them apart. So, those novels don’t really look like mixed-media books.

However, such elements are quite noticeable in other novels. The Power by Naomi Alderman not only features letters at the beginning and the end, but also presents the reader with archival documents and an extract of a chat on an online forum, in order to tell the story of what women were able to do with supreme power. Excerpts of an interview with the main character, Kirsten Raymonde, are an important element in Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Through them the reader gets more information about what happened when the Georgian flu spread worldwide. Continue reading

More Bookish Facts About Me

I’ve been blogging about books for a year now and, in order to celebrate, I decided to reveal more bookish facts about me, after having done so for the first time last year.

  • I don’t listen to audiobooks, as my listening attention span is limited. I can only really focus on what I’m listening if I’m taking notes at the same time, something I don’t want to do while discovering and getting immersed into a fictional story.
  • I don’t like reading books in a digital form, since I already spend a huge part of my day in front of screen. So, I don’t have a NetGalley account and don’t plan on getting one.
  • I still haven’t created a Goodreads account, but will do so in the near future.
  • I love paperback books with French flaps.
  • I love reading poetry, but don’t feel confident enough to review it.
  • I don’t have an answer to who my favourite author is.
  • When I love a cover of a book, I tend not to carry it around, because I’m afraid of damaging it.
  • I’m fearful of rereading books that I loved.
  • I sometimes force myself to finish books I’m not really enjoying, since I hope they can get better and the ending may surprise me.
  • I feel like I’m reading much more since starting the blog.

A Discussion on Book Ratings

Rating books can be a challenging undertaking. First, we have to decide on which rating system to use and whether to give half stars or not, for example. Then comes what it may be the most complicated part: to rate specific books, mainly ones that we may have contradictory feelings about. Although I always know when a book is a 5-star read, I sometimes struggle to decide whether to rate a book with 3 or 4 stars.

But how important is it to rate books really? In my personal opinion, I see the rating as a complement to the review. By itself the rating doesn’t say much, besides being an attempt to summarise via a number my views on a given book. One of the decisions I made when I started this blog was not to give half stars, although in my head I know when a book is on the verge of the given rating and I try to convey that sentiment in the review. So, to better understand why I decided in favour of a 3 or a 4 star, for instance, it’s important to read the review (which I always try to keep spoiler-free).

The rating system I use is loosely based on the Portuguese school grading from year 5 to year 9, when 5, 4 and 3 are pass marks and 1 and 2 are fail marks. Thus, when I rate a book with 5 stars it means that I loved it. I completely enjoyed reading it and there is nothing I would change about it. I’ve previously written a more detailed post about my views on what makes a book a 5-star read, so I won’t go into details. When I just liked a book, I rate it with 4 stars. This means I consider it a good book overall, although I would change some small things or would have liked if some elements had been more developed. A 3-star book is merely satisfactory. While reading it, I identified both good and bad elements more or less in the same measure, and I usually understand why some people may like it much more than I did. Continue reading

Reading More Book Series

One of the things I enjoy while reading is to completely immerse myself in a new world, be it a fantasy one or not. This is also one of the reasons why I am also keen on reading book series, as it enables me to spend more time with a group of characters who inhabited a certain world. Nevertheless, I haven’t read that many series yet.

Until now I’ve only read four series: A Song of Ice and Fire which is still being written by George R.R. Martin; Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling; The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; and Memories of the Eagle and the Jaguar by Isabel Allende.

My plan is to read many more in the future. The following are some of the first books in a series (accompanied by a Goodreads description) that caught my eye and that are on my wish list: Continue reading

Rereading: Yes or No?

To reread or not to reread? That’s the question which has been on my mind lately. I don’t remember rereading a book since my childhood, when I could read a story beautifully illustrated two times in a row. As times went by I completely lost that habit. I don’t even remember rereading any of the Harry Potter books in my youth as many people seem to have done.

One of the reasons why I don’t reread is that there are so many books on my wish list which I’ve never read that I feel like I would be ‘wasting’ my time by reading stories I already know, instead of discovering new characters and worlds. I’m also afraid to reread books I loved, since I may not like them as much as before, and that feeling we get when we discover a new gem may disappear. Though, I sometimes pick some of my favourite books just to read a few lines at random.

However, lately I’ve been thinking about rereading some books I first read a long time ago and I remember enjoying, but that I’ve completely forgotten what the plot is about or the characters are like. Some weeks ago, while rearranging my shelves, I stumbled upon some of those books:  The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, The Way to Paradise by Mario Vargas Llosa, City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende and The New Life by Orhan Pamuk. Continue reading

Books I Would Like to See Adapted to Screen

I may be wrong, but I am under the impression that an increasing number of the films and TV series being released lately are adaptations of books. Although sometimes I wonder if that stems from a lack of new ideas, I think this adaptation frenzy can be a good thing, since more people may become interested in the books that were the source of inspiration and then starting to read more.

There are some books, which haven’t been adapted yet, that I feel have the potential to be either great films or TV Series. Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan is one of them. It tells the story of Serena Frome who is recruited by the MI5 after graduating from the University of Cambridge in the early 1970’s. Her assignment is to select young writers with anti-communist views whom will be offered financial assistance. This spy story becomes more complex when love is added to the mix. Someone should hire Joe Wright to direct it, as he did a fantastic job with Atonement.

A book I also think could be turned into either a fantastic film or TV series is The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis (O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis in the original Portuguese) by José Saramago. This is one of my favourite books by a Portuguese author. The main character of this novel is Ricardo Reis, one of the many heteronyms created by Fernando Pessoa. Saramago transforms Ricardo Reis into a real person who returns to Lisbon after the death of his friend Fernando Pessoa. He discovers a Portugal living under the shadow of dictatorship. Continue reading

Characters Who Could Be Protagonists in New Books

After choosing some of my favourite supporting characters, I started to think about how some of them could be protagonists in new books. Sometimes you just have that desire to know more about a specific character even if the book isn’t focusing on her or his story. Some of the characters I am about to mention may not be my favourites, but I think they have potential to take centre stage in a new or parallel story.

 

Johannes Brandt – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist was my favourite book among the ones I read last year, I wouldn’t particularly change anything about it. But I would definitely read a different book just about Johannes Brandt. He is a complex character, dealing with a difficult situation. Knowing more about him in The Miniaturist wouldn’t have worked, as the mystery surrounding him is an essential part of the book at first and the story is told from Petronella’s point of view.

 

Henry Tilney – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

The idea for this post arose from Henry Tilney being one of my favourite supporting characters. In fact, he is my favourite character in Northanger Abbey thanks to his sarcastic remarks. I would love to know what he was up to before meeting Catherine Morland, the heroine of the novel. Continue reading

On Adaptations: Are the Books Always Better?

Whenever a new film or TV adaptation is announced, it isn’t difficult to find someone saying that the books are always better. That is a statement that I’ve never agreed with. The vast majority of the adaptations that I’ve watched, I enjoyed as much as the books. Some I even liked more than the books. Although it’s true that I believe that some adaptations may not do a book justice, this is far from the rule for me.

I really struggle to claim that a book is better than its adaptation, or vice versa, mainly because I would be comparing two completely different forms of entertainment, which require different ways of storytelling. What works fantastically on page may not work on screen. I tend to compare the enjoyment I had when reading the book or watching the film or TV adaptation instead of saying one is better than the other. The fact that I liked reading about a story more than watching it on screen doesn’t automatically make the adaptation a bad one.

However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t bad adaptations. If the adaptation completely misrepresents the feelings, the tone or the entire plot of the story to the point that it stops making sense, then it is not only a bad adaptation but also a bad film or TV show. I don’t expect all the plot points to be presented on screen in the exactly same way in which they were written. I don’t mind changes on adaptations at all, as long as they make sense in the context of the story being told, or they result in a more compelling story on screen. Continue reading

Which Book Should I Read Next?

I’m a book monogamist. I tried to read more than one book at a time once, but quickly discovered that I can’t split my attention between two books, since I left one behind and just continued reading the other. So, whenever I’m almost finishing a book, I start thinking about what type of book I am feeling like reading next.

As I’m now unsure about which book to pick up next, I decided to ask for your help! The four books below are the subjects of my uncertainty. All of them sound like books I would like to read sooner rather than later. It would be fantastic if you could take a little time to help me by voting until Sunday in the poll at the bottom of the page (after the books’ blurbs), regardless if you’ve read any of these or not. You may have read and liked one of them, or you may just be curious about my opinion on it.

 

Orlando by Virginia Woolf

“As his tale begins, Orlando is a passionate young nobleman whose days are spent in rowdy revelry, filed with the colourful delights of Queen Elizabeth’s court. By the close, he will have transformed into a modern, thirty-six-year-old woman and three centuries will have passed. Orlando will witness the making of history from its edge, dressing in the flamboyant fashions of each era, following passing customs, and socialising with celebrated artists and writers. Continue reading