New Year Book Tag

January is well underway, so it almost feels as if the appropriate time to muse about what we expect from the new year has already passed. However, when I saw the New Year Book Tag on Lauren and the Books YouTube channel, I couldn’t help but wanting to answer the questions myself. Do you remember when I hardly ever did tags? Those days seem to be progressively coming to an end.

 

  1. How many books are you planning on reading in 2022?

As I mentioned in the post about my bookish resolutions for 2022, I’m planning to read 35 books, a number higher than in 2021, but in line with previous years.

 

  1. Name 5 books you didn’t get to in 2021 that you would like to read in 2022.

I didn’t read as many books as I was hoping to in 2021. Some of those that I hadn’t the time to read but that I definitely want to pick up this year are: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel, The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey, O Círculo Virtuoso by Maria Isabel Barreno, Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb, and The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld. Continue reading

Bookish Resolutions for 2022

I do like writing a list! That is the reason why I still continue to come up with bookish resolutions / goals / aims (whatever you want to call them) every year, although I don’t always achieve them. I have five bookish resolutions for 2022. It will be great if I manage to fulfil every single one of them until the end of the year, but if I don’t, I won’t beat myself up because of it.

Regarding numbers, I want to read 35 books. Although this is a higher number than I managed to read in 2021, it is in line with previous years. The main reason why I decided to increase the number of books I want to read is connected with my next resolution, though.

I want to take part in more reading challenges or initiatives. I have four in mind, subject to them being organised, obviously. For the last three years or more, I have been taking part in Daphne du Maurier Reading Week in May and plan to do so again in 2022. But I also hope to participate for the first time in Reading Ireland Month in March, Women in Translation Month in August, and 20 Books of Summer. For this last challenge my aim is to read some of the shortest books that have been on my wish list for a long time. So, being able to read more books than last year seems realistic at this point. Continue reading

2021 Bookish Resolutions’ Evaluation

Every year, since I started blogging, I’ve shared with you my bookish resolutions. Most of the times, I’ve been relatively successful in fulfilling them. I can tell you in advance that in 2021, however, that was not the case, something I hadn’t anticipated midway through the year.

My first goal was to read at least 25 books, fewer than the previous year, since I was hoping to read some huge books. I did read two massive books and started the one I’m still reading. But I also decided to DNF three of those that I was expecting to tackle. Spending weeks reading books that I then didn’t complete was one of the reasons why I didn’t manage to achieve my reading goal. Not only did I just read 22 books, the smallest number in the last five years, but I also read a much smaller number of pages than in 2020. I must have spent less time reading than usual without even realising.

On a more positive note, I succeeded in reading at least eight books by Lusophone authors, that is authors who write books in Portuguese. I read them without having the resolution in mind to be honest, since I had completely forgotten about this one in particular. Maybe for that reason the majority of the books that I read were not the ones I was planning to. Seven of the books I read were new to me and another was a reread. Continue reading

Most Disappointing Books of 2021

When I pick up a new book, I obviously expect to enjoy reading it. That doesn’t always happen, however. Throughout 2021, I read some books that disappointed me greatly, because I either didn’t like them at all or I just couldn’t bother finishing them. Some of the books that I decided not to finish were massive, so the possibility of slogging through them felt even more like a waste of time. The seven books mentioned below didn’t work for me sadly, but that doesn’t mean that other readers won’t find them amazing. The first two I rated with 2 stars, while the other five I decided not to read until the end.

 

A Máquina de Joseph Walser (Joseph Walser’s Machine) by Gonçalo M. Tavares

Joseph Walser worked in a factory owned by the mogul Leo Vast. He operated a machine that demanded his full attention. His personal life was not immune to complications, as his wife was having an affair with his manager. Sadly, it’s difficult to care about the characters, since their emotions and tribulations are never properly delved into. Although this short book by Gonçalo M. Tavares is promising at first, it quickly becomes a lacklustre collection of jumbled thoughts.

 

O Irmão Alemão (My German Brother) by Chico Buarque

Chico Buarque drew inspiration from his family history to write this novella. When Francisco de Hollander, the narrator and main character, realised that he had a brother in Germany, he became obsessed with discovering what had happened to him. The premise is certainly intriguing. However, the pacing is infuriating, the story feels disjointed, and the ending is not impactful. Continue reading

Reorganising Bookshelves: A Tale of Enjoyment

All booklovers have their own specific ways of organising their bookshelves. Mine has changed recently. Or more precisely I’ve managed to improve on the way my books were organised by getting rid of books that I was sure I was never going to read again and, thus, I couldn’t find a truly good reason to keep.

In recent years, I went from keeping on my shelves all the books that I read to only keeping those that I remembered enjoying, that I rated with 4 or 5 stars, or that were special 3-star reads. Those 3-star reads were books that had beautiful covers, were part of a collection, such as the Penguin English Library, featured a memorable character, had a curious structure, were written by authors whose work in general I love, or were almost 4-star reads. Almost all of those books are also now gone from my shelves.

Having more space available on my small bookshelves meant that I could organise my books in a more careful way. Before, I only separated read from unread books and kept all the books I read by the same author together. I’ve been wanting to change that for a while, but I just couldn’t find the necessary space. Now, I’m also finally organising my read books by categories. Continue reading

Pairs of Books to Gift this Christmas

Are your dear friends and family members eager to receive books this Christmas? One of the options that will make them love you even more is to present them with two books that share some similarities, so they can compare and contrast. Some of the books I’m about to recommend are on the surface obviously very much alike. However, they are not carbon copy of one another. Not only do their authors have disparate writing styles, but the details of the plot also end up making them unique in many ways.

 

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Both Burial Rites and Alias Grace are fictional books inspired by real-life occurrences – two women are considered guilty of murdering two people each. But did they? In Burial Rites, Hannah Kent presents the touching and poignant story of Agnes, whom was sentenced to death after being considered guilty of killing her lover, Nathan, and Pétur in Iceland in the 19th century. While awaiting the day of her execution at the house of one of the officers in the district, she is visited by Assistant Reverend Thorvardur and tells him her version of events.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood focuses on the role that Grace Marks played in the murders of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery. While in prison, she receives the visit of doctor Simon Jordan and recalls various moments from her life until then. Grace’s inner thoughts and reminiscences are strikingly turn into words. Continue reading

The In or Out Book Tag

I haven’t finished as many books during the second half of the year as I was hoping for, mainly because I DNFed a couple that I had spent weeks reading to no avail. For that reason, I have written fewer reviews than I was expecting to. As I still want to publish six posts every month, I have been trying my hardest to come up with ideas for other types of bookish content.

When I was close to decide not to write a post today, I remembered seeing the “In or Out Book Tag” on Fatma’s blog, The Book Place. Originally created by Rick MacDonnell on YouTube, it’s about our likes and dislikes regarding tropes, general characteristics of books, and reading habits. Although I’m terrible at coming up with answers for book tags, I thought it would be interesting to do this one.

 

  1. Reading the Last Page First

Out! Why do people do this? I can’t fathom why someone would want to know the ending of a book without having yet discovered what it truly is about or been properly introduced to the characters. Continue reading

Non-fiction Books on My Wish List

Non-fiction November is just around the corner. Although this year I’m once again not taking part in this initiative to promote reading more non-fiction books (there are so many fiction books that I want to read instead…), I decided to share with you some of the ones I have on my wish list. Maybe you’ll get some new ideas for books to read.

My wish list of non-fiction features more books than the seven below, but these are the ones that I’ll probably prioritise in the future. They cover various topics, from the Troubles in Northern Ireland to feminism.

 

How to Be Animal: What it Means to Be Human by Melanie Challenger

I’ve only recently added this book to my wish list. But it’s certainly the one I’ll get to first, since I’ve always found the topic it explores interesting – how us, human beings, don’t tend to think about ourselves as animals. Melanie Challenger draws on various disciplines to explore how humans come to terms with being an animal and how it affects our experiences. Continue reading

Different Book Genres and Portuguese Authors

I read books from a variety of genres. When it comes to books by Portuguese authors, however, I mostly only read literary fiction, poetry and classics. I don’t have a definite explanation why. It’s probably a consequence of various factors: the types of books published from some genres don’t usually have the specific characteristics I enjoy; the work of some authors is not well publicised, as there seems to be an unending prejudice against some genres; and the book genres that are easily available and sell the most are not the ones I like reading.

Although the majority of the books by the most celebrated Portuguese authors can be categorised as literary fiction, sometimes mixed with other genres, there are various authors writing books in other genres as well. I selected four book genres – historical fiction, crime fiction, fantasy and romance – and went on an online quest to find authors who have primarily written books from those categories.

 

Historical Fiction

Historical fiction is one of my favourite book genres. That doesn’t mean that I find all books from the genre appealing, though. I’m not usually interested in reading stories focusing on royal families, for example, since I much prefer when the characters and the stories are fictional (or them being real is mostly irrelevant, as in Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell), but the time period and the settings are real and believably portrayed. I’ve read various books by Portuguese authors that are a mix between historical and literary fiction. Their entire body of work just doesn’t fit neatly in the historical fiction genre. Continue reading

Huge Books and the Importance of Characters

A massive book can be a great way for us to immerse ourselves in a fictional world. The longer we spend with the characters that give life to the stories on the page, the more interested we become in their personalities, tribulations and activities. Feeling like we know the characters intimately certainly helps to continue to turn the pages of a huge tome, even if it seems that we are not making any significant progress. But what if the characters of a huge book fail to entrance us or don’t feel well developed?

There were four huge books that I wanted to read this year. Although I started all of them, I only finished one – Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb. The other ones I decided to DNF, and the overall reason was the same for all of them. As I was struggling to connect with the characters, I lost all interest in the plot and I could not possibly force myself to continue to slug through the pages just for the sake of getting to the end of the following books.

 

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

The humongous War and Peace starts during a soirée organised by Anna Pavlovna in 1805. Various characters discuss not only occurrences in their lives, but also the political and military movements of Napoleon. I was not being able to remember whom any of the characters were or their connections with one another. They were just a massive muddle of names on pages with no distinguishable features or personalities. I lost all the desire to read this classic very early on, despite having cherished reading Anna Karenina some years ago. Continue reading