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

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

‘Chernobyl Prayer’ by Svetlana Alexievich

My rating: 2 stars

Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich could have been an informative and absorbing read. However, it failed to enthral me, since the testimonies presented throughout this non-fiction book weren’t edited, analysed nor properly contextualised. Occasionally, it raises interesting questions, but they are never fully explored.

The Chernobyl nuclear accident, which happened on 26 April 1986, didn’t affect only Ukraine. High levels of radiation were reported throughout Europe. No country was as affected as Belarus, though. The incidence of cancer increased immensely, as did the mortality rate. Svetlana Alexievich decided to give a voice to some of those who were affected. She interviewed former workers of the power plant, people who returned to a village that had been evacuated, doctors, scientists, displaced people and soldiers. Many had already died when the book was first published.

The Communist authorities lied and hid critical information. They didn’t explain how the accident happened, and the population wasn’t informed about the consequences. Military officers and clean-up workers, for example, weren’t told about the dangers of exposition to radiation. The main security agency for the Soviet Union, KGB, ordered them never to speak about what they had seen. Propaganda was successfully employed to the point that even engineers started to believe in it. This is some of the scant significant information that I was reminded of while reading. 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