Authors I Discovered Thanks to the Bookish Community

Blogs and YouTube channels mainly focused on books are a fantastic resource for readers, if I can say so myself. Thanks to various bloggers and youtubers, I discovered some authors whom I had never heard of before and whose books I also haven’t seen displayed in bookshops in Portugal since then.

When I started thinking about authors that I learnt about thanks to the bookish community, six names immediately sprang to mind. But this is by no means an exhaustive list.

 

Daphne du Maurier

It may be a surprise to some of you to see Daphne du Maurier’s name on this list. But, being from Portugal, she was a complete unknown to me. It was thanks to either Lauren from Lauren and the Books or Simon from SavidgeReads on YouTube that I decided to read the magnificent Rebecca. Since then, I’ve also read Jamaica Inn, The King’s General, My Cousin Rachel, The House on the Strand and The Birds and Other Stories. Her work is, generally speaking, atmospheric, full of vivid characters and sprinkled with mystery. Continue reading

Read in Translation, Want to Read the Original

As those of you who have been following my blog for a while probably already know, my first language is Portuguese. The first fiction book that I read in its entirety in English was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, because I didn’t want to wait for the translation. It was only after 2010, however, that I started reading the original versions of English books more recurrently. Nowadays, I don’t read the translations of books originally written in English anymore. Not only is it a great way to practise my English reading skills, but ordering books from the UK is also cheaper than to buy them in Portugal.

There are three books by English authors that I read the translation into Portuguese, but that I’m eager to read the original version of.

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I read the Portuguese translation of Pride and Prejudice, titled Orgulho e Preconceito, more or less 13 years ago. The heroine of the novel is Elizabeth Bennett. Her mother is eager to marry all of her five daughters. Elizabeth is playful, intelligent and witty, but she also makes quick judgements about people. One of them is Mr Darcy. The misunderstandings between the two of them are also a consequence of his prideful nature and of the importance he gives to social status. The believable characters are accompanied by great moments of satire. Continue reading

High-rated Books I Didn’t Like

If there are books with a low rating on Goodreads that I liked, there are also high-rated ones that I didn’t enjoy. The last time that I checked, the four books listed on this post had an average rating of more than four stars, but I either didn’t finish them or rated them with two stars. No book can ever please everyone!

 

Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich

This non-fiction book was nothing but disappointing. Although it has an average rating of 4.43 on Goodreads, I couldn’t rate it with more than 2 stars. It’s a collection of testimonies about the nuclear disaster in Ukraine in 1986, which also strongly affected Belarus. The author interviewed displaced people, soldiers, doctors, scientists and people who returned to a village that had been evacuated. It raises interesting questions, but they’re never fully explored. The statements are not edited, analysed nor contextualised with further information.

 

The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov

When I decided to read this book, I wasn’t entirely sure about what to expect. I hadn’t heard much about it beforehand. I can now only describe it as a compilation of snippets from the narrator’s past, the life of this family and Bulgarian history, which the author tried to connect with the myth of the Minotaur. I rated it with 2 stars, as it is excessively rambling and mentions a myriad of themes that only rarely are interesting. Many people seem to like it, though, as it has an average rating of 4.09. Continue reading

Low-rated Books I Enjoyed

No book will ever be universally loved. Reading is a very personal experience, after all, and what one person may find amazing, another will surely consider dreadful. Thus, there are obviously books that I liked but that have a relatively low average rating on Goodreads. The last time that I checked, the average rating of the four books listed below was lower than 3.4. Nevertheless, I either remember highly enjoying them or rated them with four starts.

 

Glister by John Burnside

This short novel, which has an average rating of 3.11, is a combination of social commentary, atmospheric mystery, magical realism and science fiction. Boys from the Innertown have been going missing for a while. The official explanation is that they left of their own free will. The only police officer in the town knows what really happened to one of the boys, though. Not all of the mysteries are solved by the end of the book, but the personal story of Leonard, one of the narrators, provides some answers.

 

Felizmente Há Luar! by Luís de Sttau Monteiro

Originally published in 1961, this is a Portuguese theatre play that I read a long time ago at school, If I’m not mistaken, when I was in Year 12. It has an average rating of 3.17. Although it’s based on a failed liberal rebellion that took place in 1817, it has a deeper meaning. The true purpose of the author was to delve into the political repression and the persecution that people endured during the fascist regime of the time, reason why it ended up being censured and forbidden. Light is used as a symbol of the victory against oppression. Continue reading

Beautiful Covers, Disappointing Books

I’ve published a few posts about my favourite book covers since starting this blog. I did so by only taking into consideration the allure of the cover. Many times, I hadn’t even read the books in question. When I finally did, some ended up being particularly disappointing, reason why I decided not to keep them on my shelves. I don’t keep all of the books that I read, as I don’t have the space nor the desire to do so any longer.

So, four books with beautiful covers no longer have a place on my shelves:

 

Homens Imprudentemente Poéticos by Valter Hugo Mãe

I mentioned this book by the Portuguese writer Valter Hugo Mãe on the second instalment of my favourite book covers. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it and rated it with two stars. It is about two Japanese neighbours, Itaro and Saburo, who are in open conflict. Not only did I not find the plot gripping, I also disliked the writing style. It is too pretentious and completely overpowers the story. Continue reading

Most Disappointing Books of 2019

Every year there are books that I hope to at least mildly enjoy but that end up being disappointing for a variety of reasons. 2019 was sadly full of those books. And they were not disappointing in the sense that I only didn’t love them as much as I was expecting to. I truly didn’t like them. Some I read in their entirety and rated with two stars, while others I decided not to finish, as I had no hope to start enjoying them at any point.

First, there were three books that I read until the very end but that I didn’t like.

 

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

Two women, Hester and Rebekah, who are developing feelings for one another, try to discover why people are disappearing around London in 1831. The premise sounded promising. However, there is no aura of mystery throughout the book, in part because the descriptions are soulless. The plot is unjustifiably meandering. Some events are completely unnecessary for the clarification of what is supposed to be the main mystery. And there is also too much telling and not enough showing. I only kept reading because I was mildly curious to know the reason behind the disappearances. Continue reading

Bookish Resolutions for 2020

My resolutions or goals for 2020 concerning reading and the content that I create for this blog are mostly a continuation of or an improvement on what I’ve been doing for a while. I deliberately decided not to challenge myself too much and made sure to avoid setting goals that I could lose interest in. Only one of my resolutions is wholly new and may have a small impact on my book buying habits.

Regarding the number of books that I want to read, I’m keeping my goal at 35. However, I’m hoping to either surpass that number or read more pages than last year by selecting the books that I want to read more carefully. One of the reasons why I finished fewer books in 2019 than in 2018 was that I spent too much time forcing myself to read books that I ended up deciding not to finish, because I was either not enjoying them or they were not what I had expected.

I also want to finish three of the book series that I’m currently reading. Two of them will certainly be The Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan and As Areias do Imperador (Sands of the Emperor) by Mia Couto, since I only have one book left to read from each. The other will probably either be The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb or The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante. Continue reading

2019 Bookish Resolutions’ Evaluation

At the beginning of 2019, I set some goals for the year ahead regarding my reading, this blog and the social media that I use (not exclusively) for bookish purposes. The time has now come to evaluate whether I have met them or not.

I read in their entirety 35 books, the exact number that I had set as my minimum for the year. Although I read four fewer books than in the previous year, I read around 1300 more pages, according to Goodreads. And this is without counting with the eight books that I didn’t finish for various reasons.

Another of my resolutions was to reread at least one of my old favourite books. I reread O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis) by José Saramago and loved it as much as the first time. Despite it not being an old favourite, I also reread Hamlet by William Shakespeare at the end of December, after buying a new edition. I am still not a huge ‘rereader’, but I don’t feel like I’m ‘wasting my time’ anymore, even though there are still a large number of books that I’m eager to read for the first time. Continue reading

Writing the Seasons with Books: Winter

This year I decided to write the four seasons with books. Thus, at the beginning of each of the previous seasons (Spring, Summer and Autumn), I selected books from my shelves whose titles begin with the letters of the name of the season in question. The time has finally come to do the same for Winter!

When I had the idea for this sort of series, I didn’t expect that it would be so difficult to find on my shelves books with titles beginning with certain letters. In order not to pick Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier again, I had to cheat slightly this time, as I’ve done in past seasons for other reasons.

 

Winter by Ali Smith

Told from the perspectives of Sophia and Art, her son, this book, which is part of Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet, delves into how dissimilar world views can cause rifts between family members. Art was supposed to take his former partner, Charlotte, to spend Christmas at his mother’s house. As she left him, he decided to pay a young woman to go with him. Although the plot is not outstanding, the characters are compelling. Continue reading

New Authors Whose Work I Want to Continue Reading

Falling in love with an author who already has a long writing career means that we can add a significant number of books to our wish list. But there is also something special about discovering new authors who are at the start of their writing journey and looking forward to their future work being published. After reading just one book by the five authors below (who have only published three books or less as far as I know), I became interested in continuing delving into their work.

 

Madeline Miller

The name Madeline Miller was not unknown to me when I decided to read Circe, but I had never read a book by her before. In her latest retelling of an Ancient Greek myth, she focuses on Circe, a daughter of Helios. She was sentenced to exile on a deserted island for using witchcraft against her own kind. The novel is similar to a fictional memoir, and Circe’s emotions are tangible. I now want to read The Song of Achilles and am eager to follow her career.

 

Imogen Hermes Gowar

Imogen Hermes Gowar’s debut novel, The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, shines thanks to its believable characters and detailed writing style. Although the plot is not particularly remarkable, I still liked reading this character-focused novel set in eighteenth-century London. Jonah Hancock may have lost a ship, but he gained a mermaid. To recover the money that his vessel was worth, he consents to exhibit the strange creature. One of the places where it can be seen is at Mrs Chappell’s nunnery. There, he meets a beautiful courtesan – Angelica. When Gowar publishes a new novel, I’ll most certainly read it. Continue reading