Most Disappointing Books of 2022

One year I would love to say that I enjoyed all the books that I read, rendering writing a version of this post unnecessary. Unsurprisingly, that wasn’t the case in 2022. Although I only overall disliked one of the books that I completed and chose to read for enjoyment, I also decided not to finish other four, since I had no hope that they would still manage to grip me. This is a lower number than in the year before, however, which I’m pleased about. There were other books that I read in full that I wouldn’t recommend, but they were passable and not as disappointing as the five below.

 

Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

When I decided to read Memento Mori by Muriel Spark, I thought it would be a gripping, gloomy mystery. After all, 75-year-old Dame Lettie Colston was receiving anonymous calls from a man who only said “remember you must die”. Instead, it is a book whose main focus is old age and its hardships, fear of dying and the inevitability of death. These could have been interesting subjects to read about had they been explored in a story that wasn’t fragmented, tedious and with almost no character development.

 

Normal People by Sally Rooney

I debated whether to read Normal People for a long time. After reading many reviews and not being captivated by the adaptation, I was unsure if it was a book for me. I was convinced, however, that it was a book I would read until the end even if I ended up not enjoying it. That was not the case, though. I only read around 100 pages. Continue reading

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2022 Bookish Resolutions’ Evaluation

Let’s get straight to the point. After having failed to achieve almost all of my goals for the blog and reading in general in 2021, the same happened this year. My resolutions weren’t even particularly challenging, but life just got in the way and I’ve only been reading for short periods of time each day. Will this affect the way I think about declarations of intentions in any way?

At the beginning of the year, I was convinced that I would be able to read 35 books. I was planning to read only short books during the summer after all. That didn’t happen, though. In fact, I’ve only read in their entirety 22 books for pure enjoyment so far and, although I may still finish another one tomorrow, I won’t get even close to my reading goal. At best I will have read fewer 12 books than I was expecting to. A number higher than in any other year.

My second resolution was to take part in more reading challenges and initiatives. I did participate in the four I was hoping to (Daphne du Maurier Reading Week, Reading Ireland Month, Women in Translation Month and 20 Books of Summer), having had varying degrees of success. Continue reading

Unexpected Pairs of Books

Books can be of completely different genres, tell an incomparable story, feature characters with overall contrasting personalities and still have at least one element in common. The following three pairs of books are unexpected, because at first sight they couldn’t be more dissimilar. However, there’s one characteristic that unites the books in each pair. What can connect three classics or modern classics to three fantasy books? While you are about to discover the correlation between two of the pairs, regarding the other one you will have to read the books!

 

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin + Os Maias (The Maias) by Eça de Queirós

I cannot directly tell you what the connection between A Game of Thrones, a fantasy novel, and the Portuguese classic Os Maias (The Maias in the English translation) is, because it is a massive spoiler for one of these books. I’ll just give you a brief summary of their premises instead. At the beginning of A Game of Thrones, Robert Baratheon is the king who sits on the Iron Throne. After the death of his Hand, he invites Lord Eddard Stark to assume the role.  However, since the lords of Westeros are playing dangerous power games, families want to keep secrets hidden, the exiled Targaryen’s want to retake their father’s throne and a legendary threat is lurking behind the Wall, peace may be at an end.

The classic by Eça de Queirós, as the title suggests, revolves around the misadventures of the Maia family. After the end in tragedy of the relationship between Pedro da Maia and Maria Monforte, Afonso da Maia becomes responsible for the upbringing of his grandson, Carlos, who later becomes besotted by Maria Eduarda. Besides being a family story, the book also shines a light on the vices of the higher classes and the cultural discussions of the 19th century. Continue reading

Do I Still Want to Read the Books on My Wish List?

When it comes to adding books to my wish list, I can be extremely impulsive. I sometimes do it only because I read a positive review and the plot sounds vaguely appealing. The problem is that what readers consider to be a gripping plot or an outstanding writing style is not always the same. This later has an impact on my reading experience, as I end up picking up books that others loved but that were not the best fit for me, something that I could have avoided if I had done a more in-depth research before buying certain books.

Since I’ve recently been DNFing many books, I decided to go through my wish list on Goodreads (which doesn’t solely consist of the books that I have on my physical to-be-read pile anymore but all of the ones I hope to read in the future) and ponder if I really want to read them. Result: I removed various books from it, some just after reading the blurb again and others after reading a couple of initial pages available for preview online. I’ve also decided not to read books that feature certain elements that I’m not a massive fan of.

I assume this is a normal action for various readers. So, why am I writing this post? There are various posts in this blog about books that I was planning to read and it bothers me to have written them and then deciding not to read some of those books after all without mentioning it. Is this ridiculous? Very likely! Nevertheless, not only have I decided to write a post about all the books I removed from my wish list based on four main reasons, but I’m also inclined towards avoiding writing further posts about the books I may possibly read in the future, as for me that feels too much like a commitment. Continue reading

20 Books of Summer 2022 – How Did I Do?

2022 was the first year I took part in 20 Books of Summer hosted by Cathy of the blog 746 Books. The challenge is simple, albeit not necessarily easy to achieve – read 20 books during the three summer months (it’s also possible to read only 10 or 15). As in a way I was already expecting to happen, I didn’t manage to read the 20 books I had selected at the end of May. I only read in their entirety eleven books, decided not to finish three and am still currently reading one (Human Acts by Han Kang).

Although this challenge allowed me to finally pick up books that had been on my wish list for a long time, I don’t think I’ll participate again next year, since it was far more taxing than I had anticipated. I thought that having a set number of books to read within a short space of time wouldn’t be a weighty pressure, but it ended up feeling like it. I usually only read one to three books a month (depending on the size), so I found it stressful to have to push myself to read more than usual. Well, I didn’t have to… but, particularly in July, I tried really hard to. Having only picked up short books also rendered the reading experience in a way monotonous.

Below is the list of books that I had set for the challenge, featuring links to the reviews of those I read and mentioning the ones that I DNFed. Continue reading

2022 Mid-year Resolutions’ Evaluation

Back in January, I listed the five bookish resolutions that I have for this year. The second half of June is the perfect time to evaluate whether I’m on track to fulfil those goals or not. Spoiler alert: I’ve already failed one of them!

Let’s start with one resolution regarding which there’s still hope, though. I want to read 35 books until the end of the year. So far, I’ve only read 10 books, which would be worrying if I didn’t plan to read far more books in the second half of the year, thanks to the reading challenge 20 Books of Summer.

Taking part in more reading challenges or initiatives is another of my goals. Not only am I participating in 20 Books of Summer at the moment (I’ve only finished one book so far, mainly because almost two years and a half later COVID got me and I felt poorly), but I also took part in Reading Ireland Month, during which I read One by One in the Darknessby Deirdre Madden and DNFed Normal People by Sally Rooney, and Daphne du Maurier Reading Week, having started reading at the time The Flight of the Falcon, a novel I ended up only finishing some days later.
The time hasn’t yet come for me to try to fulfil my third resolution, though. Continue reading

20 Books of Summer 2022 – Reading Plans

Summer is coming and with it a reading challenge that I’ve never taken part in, but that I have been tempted to try for a while – the 20 Books of Summer, hosted by Cathy of the blog 746 Books. The goal is to read 20 books (or fewer) from our TBR during three months. This year’s edition runs from 1 June to 1 September, and I’m joining in! Besides endeavouring to read 20 books, it’s also possible to choose to read “only” 10 or 15 books. So why have I, as a slow reader who only finishes around two or three books per month, decided to read 20 books? There’s no reasonable explanation!

I do have a plan to try to be successful in this challenge, though. I’m not reading any books a few days before the beginning of 20 Books of Summer. The reasoning behind this is that I hope I’ll miss reading so much that I’ll feel like reading more pages a day than usual. Moreover, when making the list of books I plan to read during this period, I only selected short ones. I don’t think any of them is longer than 250 pages.

Although I don’t have a huge pile of unread books to pick from, since I’ve only been buying books as I read them, I do have more than 200 books on my wish list. From the ones that have been on that list for more than a year, I selected various short novels (some may even be classed as novellas), a graphic novel, plus short story and poetry collections. Four of them are translations of books written by women, because I also want to participate for the first time in Women in Translation month during August. Continue reading

Book Genres – Biggest Delights and Pet Peeves

The magical power of the written word can be found in a variety of book genres. Some of my favourites are literary fiction, fantasy, dystopian and historical fiction, but I also read other types of books. That doesn’t mean I like all the books within a specific genre, though. In fact, while some of their most common characteristics give me great joy, others are a source of great irritation. There are four book genres regarding which I can pinpoint my biggest delights and pet peeves.

 

Literary Fiction

Books that can be classified as literary fiction don’t usually shine because of their compelling and gripping plots. The characteristics that I find the most appealing about this genre are the importance placed on character development and the impactful prose. The writing style doesn’t have to be full of linguistic flourishes, but it has to help readers form an emotional attachment to the story, message and characters. Having said that, I love how some authors awe me with their lyrical prose as if stringing words together was a magic trick.

One characteristic that I don’t tend to like about some books in the literary fiction genre is their fragmentary nature. Books that are almost only a compilation of vignettes or snippets, when short scenes and descriptions are not well connected, usually annoy me. As almost everything in life, there are exceptions, though. I enjoyed Ema by Maria Teresa Horta and Lanny by Max Porter, for example, despite their more fragmentary prose and structure. Continue reading

Books I’ve Added to my Wish List during #readingirelandmonth22

My first time taking part in Reading Ireland Month, hosted by Cathy, is not being as productive as I anticipated. I’ve only recently started reading my first book for it (One by One in the Darkness by Deirdre Madden, which I’m enjoying) and have not followed the posts by other bloggers as closely as I hoped. Nevertheless, I’ve still added various books by Irish authors to my wish list since the beginning of March.

Almost all the books below were written by authors whom I’ve never heard of before to my great shame. They are novels, novellas and a collection of short stories mostly focused on families or personal experiences, which also paint a picture of life in Ireland at various points in time.

 

Foster by Claire Keegan

Claire Keegan is an Irish author whose name I was already familiar with. Her book Small Things Like These has been on my wish list since late last year. Thanks to Reading Ireland Month, it now has the company of Foster, a novella about a young girl who is sent to live with a foster family on a farm in rural Ireland. Her life begins to improve while in their care, but a revelation changes everything once again. The emotional depth of the book is supposed to be outstanding. Continue reading

Authors I Wish I Had Added to My List of 100 Women Writers to Read in My Lifetime

Back in 2016, the year I started blogging, I curated a list of 100 women writers that I wanted to read during my lifetime inspired by Jean from Jean Bookishthoughts. At the time, I was reading far more books by men than by women and was eager to change that. I’m pleased to inform that I’m now reading significantly more books by women! And I’m not even forcing myself to tick names off that list (I still haven’t read the vast majority of them). I’ve been reading and cherishing books by authors that aren’t on the list, thanks mostly to other bookish content creators introducing me to great female writers.

When I decided to pursue that long-term reading project, Jean’s own list was my starting point. I just included some other authors that I had already read and a couple of Portuguese writers. While I didn’t enjoy the books that I read by every single one of the authors on the list, I’ve read books by other talented women that I now wish were part of it. International Women’s Day seemed like the perfect time to mention them!

 

Maria Judite de Carvalho

When I curated my list of 100 women writers to read in my lifetime, I hadn’t heard of the Portuguese author Maria Judite de Carvalho, who was born in 1921 and died in 1998. Her work only came on my radar around three years ago. I’ve recently read Os Armários Vazios, Empty Wardrobes in the English translation. It’s a novella with an unreliable narrator that tells the story of how three women let their lives be influenced by men. Another book I’m interested in by her is Tanta Gente, Mariana. Continue reading