Authors I Want to Read Every Year – A Rethink

I don’t ever want reading to feel like a chore. When in 2017 I wrote a post about the authors that I wanted to read every year, I didn’t expect to constantly have to check it a couple of years down the line in order to make sure that I would have enough time to read books by those authors. The fact that I was almost forcing myself to find the time is certainly a sign that I am not truly eager to read books by them. A rethink is obviously needed!

My list of authors to read every year featured Margaret Atwood, Charles Dickens, John Burnside, Ian McEwan, Daphne du Maurier, José Saramago and Mia Couto. From these authors, there are only three that I feel I would have picked up books by this year if it were not for the list – Daphne du Maurier, José Saramago and Margaret Atwood. Unsurprisingly, these authors are some of my favourites of all time.

Why am I not as excited to read books by the other authors as I was before? I don’t have a definite, single answer. In the cases of Charles Dickens and John Burnside, it’s probably because I was disappointed with the latest books that I picked up by them. Mia Couto’s novels were starting to feel a bit samey to me, though I enjoyed them all. And I’ve always had a difficult reading relationship with Ian McEwan, having enjoyed some of his books and disliked others. Continue reading

My Penguin English Library Collection II

It’s so satisfying to look at the colourful and stripy spines of the Penguin English Library classics lined on my shelves that I’m always eager to add more copies to my collection. I obviously have to be interested in the story as well. I don’t buy them solely for the covers and overall design by Coralie Bickford-Smith.

Since I revealed the classics that I had in these editions almost four years ago, I bought a few more. I have now sixteen in total. Most of my latest acquisitions were written by Charles Dickens, but there are other authors amongst the seven books mentioned in this post.

 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Despite being full of unpleasant characters, Wuthering Heights is a gripping and convincing novel, which explores obsession and revenge in a believable way. Mr Earnshaw found Heathcliff on the streets of Liverpool when he was just a boy and took him to Wuthering Heights to live with him and his children. While he was looked down on by Hindley, he grew very close to Catherine. His unhealthy fascination with her led him to seek revenge. Continue reading

Favourite Opening Lines

By the time that we finish reading most books, the opening lines have already vanished from our memory. A selected few, however, linger on, long after we close the books and start new ones. They remain forever imprinted in our mind. My favourites are long and short, summarise the premise of the book or just leave readers wondering. There’s not a specific characteristic that distinguishes all of them.

 

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

 

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Continue reading

‘Hard Times’ by Charles Dickens

My rating: 3 stars

Patchy and uneven, Hard Times by Charles Dickens is a novel whose main purpose is to criticise the glorification of utilitarianism. For a long while, the characters and, to a certain extent, the plot are only used to convey that condemnation, instead of being critical elements of a gripping story. Although almost all of the characters and the apparent inconsequential parts of the plot end up being relevant, that only happens close to the end of the book.

The headmaster of the Coketown school, Mr Thomas Gradgrind, required his pupils to only be taught facts. His own children had the same type of education. Any activity that required imagination, emotions and creativity was forbidden. Once, when he found two of his children, Louisa and Thomas, watching a touring circus, he was appalled. Louisa had been curious to know what it looked like, though.

Sissy Jupe, a new girl at the school, was the daughter of a man who was a performer at the circus. So, Mr Gradgrind and his friend Mr Bounderby went looking for him to inform him that she couldn’t attend the school anymore. But, as Sissy’s father had disappeared, Mr Gradgrind made her a proposal instead – she could continue going to the school as long as she left the circus and he became her tutor. With great sadness, Sissy accepted. Despite not knowing many facts, reason why she was led to feel inadequate, she revealed an interesting perspective on social issues. Continue reading

Book Haul – March / April 2020

During strange times, there’s something calming about reading a book and get immersed in a fictional world, reason why I had to buy some books! This haul features classics, fantasy and historical fiction. I’ve already finished one of the books, and the others I expect to read soon.

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time more than ten years ago. It was the first book that I read by Jane Austen. Having now read all of her major novels once, I decided to reread it, but this time in English, as I had previously read the Portuguese translation. So, I bought a beautiful Vintage Classics edition.

 

Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb

In the second book in The Farseer trilogy, Robin Hobb continues to tell the story of Fitz, as he faces grave danger and is asked to make sacrifices for the good of the realm. I expect this instalment to continue to explore human emotions and to also be full of court intrigue. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – December 2019

I pondered not to write a post about my favourites from December, as I only have one book to share with you. I watched a few films and started watching a couple of TV series on Netflix, but they were all a huge disappointment.

The most impressive book that I read this month was A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Set in London and Paris during the eighteenth century, before and right after the French Revolution, it is an engaging but demanding novel to get immersed in. Lucie Manette discovers that her father is not dead. With the help of Mr Jarvis Lorry, she takes him from Paris to England. During the journey, they meet Charles Darnay, who years later falls in love with Lucie. Their love story develops almost on the background, as social upheaval takes over France and has consequences on the lives of the characters. Overall, this is a thought-provoking book about how people who fought against tyranny can become tyrants themselves.

Next year, my monthly favourites will probably be slightly different, causing this lack of favourites not happen. But I’ll expand on that on my bookish resolutions for 2020. Continue reading

‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens

My rating: 4 stars

Love in its various forms is enfolded in an account of how those who fight against tyranny can become tyrants themselves in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. As the characters travel between London and Paris in the eighteenth century, readers are presented with a picture of the society of the time. Although this is a challenging and difficult novel to get immersed in, it ends up being engaging, since it raises stimulating questions.

In 1775, Mr Jarvis Lorry, a clerk at Tellson’s bank, had to accompany Miss Lucie Manette to Paris on a critical mission. Her father, who was long thought dead, had reappeared, and Mr Lorry’s assistance was fundamental to identify him. Monsieur Manette was hidden in a room at a wine-shop. He was making shoes, a skill that he had learnt while imprisoned for many years without a trial. Doctor Manette not only didn’t remember his time in prison, he also didn’t know who Mr Lorry and Lucie were. Mr Lorry managed to recognise him, though. And, as soon as it was possible, they took him to England.

Five years later, the three of them were called as witnesses at the trial of a man, Mr Charles Darnay, who had taken the same boat as them from Calais to England when they left France. He was acquitted after a successful defence by Sydney Carton, who looked very much like him. From that moment onwards, their paths became intertwined. Charles Darnay fell in love with Lucie Manette, who was kind and compassionate. But he was not the only one developing feelings for her. Continue reading

Book Haul – September / October 2019

I was not expecting to buy as many books as I did during September and this month. However, after deciding not to finish four novels in the latest months, I was running out of books to read. I usually keep a relatively small number of unread books on my shelves. I tend to only buy new ones once I’ve finished a few of those that I already owned.

So, I acquired nine new books!

 

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Set in Paris and in London, it was described by Dickens as his best story. A French aristocrat and a dissolute English lawyer face chaos and fall in love with the same woman. I’m expecting it to delve into a variety of social issues that characterised the 19th century. Continue reading

‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens

My rating: 4 stars

Charles Dickens is an author whose books I frequently add to my wish list. A Christmas Carol is one of his most famous works and served as inspiration for a variety of films. It spreads the message that money is not the most important element for a life filled with happiness. Celebrating Christmas with family and friends is much more significant. Scrooge was a bitter man, but he was given the opportunity to discover the true meaning of Christmas and learn about compassion.

Scrooge despised Christmas. He was an old miser, whose former business partner, Marley, had died seven years before the beginning of the story. Nevertheless, he was to receive his visit once more. When Marley’s ghost appeared in his house, Scrooge didn’t want to believe his own eyes. The ghost was able to stand still, but his hair still moved like it was being blown by wind. He wore a chain, representing all the mistakes he had committed during his lifetime. He warned Scrooge that he would be visited by three spirits that would give him the chance to avoid Marley’s fate.

The spirits’ mission was to guide Scrooge through Christmas past, present and future, so he could learn some lessons on life. The festive spirit is present throughout the book, and it was interesting to know what various families did during Christmas day. However, the section on Christmas present went on for a bit too long, as some of the details didn’t grab my attention. Continue reading

Books in Primary Colours: Blue

In order to briefly comment on some of the books that I’ve either read before I started blogging or that I feel that I should talk about more often, I’m writing a three-part series of posts about three books whose covers are predominantly yellow, blue or red. Besides their covers being dominated by a primary colour, these books just need to have one more thing in common – to still have a place on my shelves.

For the second instalment in this series, I’ve chosen three books whose covers are blue-toned. Although I have reviewed the first two books listed below when I first started blogging, I haven’t mentioned them very often since then. The last one, I have read quite a while ago and, despite having liked it, don’t remember much about.

 

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

This is, so far, the only book that I’ve read by Charles Dickens, but I’m sure it will be the first of many. Pip tells us the story of his life since his childhood until the beginning of his adulthood. He was raised by his sister and her husband, Joe Gargery. At first, the tough conditions that he lived in didn’t seem to bother him. His only complaint was the abuse he was subject to by his sister. That changed when he was chosen to visit Miss Havisham and her adoptive daughter Estella, whom he ended up falling in love with. Pip then started dreaming for a better life. His ambition made him leave behind the people who cared for him. The first and second volumes are slightly monotonous at times, in spite of the fascinating characters. The third volume, on the other hand, is splendid, as all the previous events are connected. Continue reading