Christmassy Books on My Wish List

I’m not usually a seasonal reader. Reading a book set in summer during winter or vice versa doesn’t bother me at all. So, I never seem to have on my shelves the books deemed appropriate for a specific time of the year. To the best of my knowledge, I currently don’t have one single book on my to-be-read pile that is set during Christmas time. However, I have some on my wish list. I just haven’t bought them yet, and to be honest don’t know when I will.

 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Ebenezer Scrooge is haunted by three spirits, who teach him the true meaning of Christmas, in this book by Charles Dickens. Until watching a Doctor Who Christmas special inspired by this story a few years ago, I had no interest to read it, but I then became quite curious to know more about the source of inspiration for that episode.

 

Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

I was introduced to this book by a fellow blogger, but I really can’t remember who, unfortunately. It is a compilation of letters written by J.R.R. Tolkien to his children in which he pretends to be Father Christmas. Continue reading

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Bookish Christmas Gifts Ideas

Christmas is coming, and I thought some of you may be in need of some ideas for bookish gifts to either offer your dear ones or to ask Santa Claus for. Expect not only books but also other items which are in one way or another connected with them. Some of them I own, while others are on my wish list. Not that I expect many book related gifts, as nowadays people offer me other things, since they are not sure about which books I already own.

 

Books

A book with a beautiful cover is always a fantastic idea for a Christmas gift. Even if the person already owns that book, it may not be in particular stunning edition. For Jane Austen lovers, I hugely recommend the Vintage Classics Austen Series. I have Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey in these editions, but you can get all of her main novels wrapped up in gorgeous covers with French flaps.

But if you don’t know anyone who is a Jane Austen fan (which I doubt), you may have a friend who loves Russian classics. The Vintage Classics Russian Series features many books I’m also looking forward to reading and that may appeal to many people. Anna Karenina and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky and The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov are some of the books in this series. Continue reading

Books I Recently Didn’t Finish

Life is too short to force yourself to read books you’re not enjoying at all until the very end. Although I sometimes persevere to the last page of books I’m not really liking as much as I expecting to, I only do so when I sincerely hope that they will get better or the ending will surprise me. I hadn’t DNF’d a book in quite some time, probably years. But this month I already didn’t finish two: The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell and The Castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino.

I’ve had The Road to Wigan Pier (more precisely the Portuguese translation titled O Caminho para Wigan Pier) on my shelves for quite some time, and to be honest I was not that excited about it. I didn’t choose it myself. It was an offer from a bookshop for buying a certain number of books there. As I was trying to read more non-fiction in November, I decided to finally pick it up. But the writing style was not grabbing my attention, and I wasn’t that interested in the subject being covered neither. The book delves into the life of the English working class in the 1930s, which could be a fascinating topic, if the first pages focused on just a couple of specific people and were more insightful.

The other book I didn’t finish this month, The Castle of the Crossed Destinies, is a collection of short stories based on interpretations of tarot cards. I was expecting the stories to feature characters based on the cards’ drawings, but I thought the plot would be taken a bit further. However, after reading the first two stories and having a glimpse through the others, it felt like we were just being presented with possible meanings for the cards being picked up by random people at a hostel, which used to be a castle, instead of being told a proper story. Continue reading

A Playlist for A Reading Session

When I was at school and university, I always did my homework and studied while listening to music. I didn’t pay much attention to the song lyrics and the melodies on the background helped me to focus on what I was doing more easily. I started listening to music while studying when I was about 10 or 11. At the time, I listened to a lot of pop, but my music tastes have changed a lot since then and now my music library is comprised mainly of indie and alternative rock artists.

However, while reading fiction books, I tend not to listen to music as much and actually prefer a quieter environment, since I believe that helps me to get immersed in the story. To be in an almost silent location can sometimes be a challenge, though. I do like reading while I’m on trains, as it’s a great way to pass the time, but some people can make a lot of noise, mainly those who insist on listening to music or podcasts out loud with no regard for others.

So, to avoid having to endure the noise other people make while I’m reading, I’ve just created a playlist on Spotify to listen to while I’m enjoying a good book. It features music with no lyrics, because maybe without the temptation of paying attention to them it will be easier for me to immerse myself into the world of a book while listening to something I chose to. Continue reading

Portuguese Poets in Music

Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016 sparked a (sometimes heated) debate about whether song lyrics can be considered poetry or not. Although I don’t have a strong opinion on the subject, I tend to believe that song lyrics can be regarded as poetry, as long as they are intricate, profound and convey a stimulating meaning through the rhythmic qualities of the language. The difference seems to be that usually song lyrics are regarded as popular while poetry is considered to be erudite.

Some Portuguese artists and bands mixed the two concepts by setting to music the works of famous poets. The two cases that immediately sprang to mind were Fernando Pessoa and Florbela Espanca. But there may be more examples that I don’t know of.

Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935) has had various of his poems used as song lyrics of diverse music genres – Jazz, Indie-Pop and Fado. Early this year, Salvador Sobral sang during a concert a song, Presságio (composed by Júlio Resende), whose lyrics are a poem by Fernando Pessoa. Continue reading

Books to Read During Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching and you may be in need of something to read. This usually is the time of the year to pick up some horror books. But, as I haven’t read that many books among that genre, I decided to list some of those that I consider appropriate for this time of the year instead of choosing favourites. The books mentioned below all feature either dark, twisted or spooky elements which intend to leave the reader feeling uneasy.

 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Even if you have never read Frankenstein, you may be familiar with the story it tells. Victor Frankenstein manages to animate lifeless matter, but the creature born of that experiment is nothing like what he had expected. This is a book about how a creator deals with the destructive actions of his creation.

 

The Dumb House by John Burnside  

A dark story is conveyed using beautifully crafted prose in The Dumb House. The main character, Luke, is obsessed with the issue of life and death, the existence of a soul, and questions if language is either learnt or innate. This leads him to a twisted experiment performed on his own children. Continue reading

Authors I Want to Read Every Year

There are some authors that I really want to read more books by, in order to get even more familiar with their work. So, I decided that I’ll try to read at least one book by each of the authors mentioned below every year, starting in the next one, since 2017 is fast coming to an end. I don’t intend to read the entirety of their back catalogue, but there are quite a few books by these writers on my wish list.

While I’ve only read one book by some of these authors, I’ve read various by others. However, all these writers have one thing in common: the books I have read by them left me curious enough to continue delving into their published work. I may even end up reading more books than I’m currently planning to, since some of these writers are still alive and continue to work on new material.

There are obviously more authors that I want to read additional books by, but these are the most predominant ones on my wish list. The only way I believe I’ll ever get to read them all (and at the same time continue to enjoy books by other writers) is if I commit to read at least one once a year.    Continue reading

Books I Want to Read Before the End of 2017

There are only three months left in 2017 and there are still a few books I really want to read before the year comes to an end. These include fiction and non-fiction, novels and short stories. I’m expecting to love some of them, while others I have more doubts about. Nevertheless, I’m curious about what all of them have to offer.

 

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula is the book I have saved for Halloween. This is a horror story told through letters and diary entries. Count Dracula employs Jonathan Harker to advise him on a London home and, sometime after, alarming incidents start unfolding around England.

 

Ensaio sobre a Cegueira (Blindness) by José Saramago

I haven’t read a book by the Portuguese author and Noble Prize winner José Saramago in quite a while, but I plan to change that soon. Ensaio sobre a Cegueira, Blindness in the English translation, is a sort of allegory about how the population of a city becomes blind and is confined to an asylum. Continue reading

Orphans as Protagonists

I’ve recently realised that orphans are protagonists in numerous books, thanks to a video on YouTube where Simon from SavidgeReads interviews E. Lockhart. They can be characters who are on their own, forced to look for a place they can call home. But they are also used to showcase either strained or loving relationships with other family members besides parents. When there is really no family member left to take care of them, they are a window to the difficulties faced by children who are institutionalised.

Glancing through my shelves, I found some books whose protagonists are orphans of both parents at the beginning of the story.

 

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter

Probably the most famous literary orphan, Harry Potter lives, at the beginning of The Philosopher’s Stone, with his horrible uncle and aunt unaware that his parents were two famous wizards killed by the evil Lord Voldemort. I’m sure there is no need for me to tell you more about his story. Continue reading

Book Unhaul

My shelves are, at the moment, jam-packed with books, and I’m having trouble to find space to store the last ones that I bought. They are just dangerously piling up on the top of my other unread books. In order to mitigate that problem, I decided to take from my shelves some of the books that I’m sure I won’t be reading ever again.

Currently, I still keep on my shelves the majority of the books I read when I was a teenager. But I’ve now decided to donate the majority of them to my local library. I’ll just keep a few of those I loved the most. Those that I won’t keep any longer are by four Portuguese authors, two of them being co-authors:

 

Maria Teresa Maia Gonzalez

Estrela à Chuva

A Viagem do Bruno

Parabéns, Rita!

Poeta (às vezes)

Dietas e Borbulhas Continue reading