Books I Struggled to Rate

Sometimes, as soon as I finish a book, I instantaneously know how many stars I’m going to award it. Other times, to choose one from only five numbers becomes a hugely challenging task. My main difficulty, so far, has been deciding whether some books were 3 or 4-star reads. There was also an instance when I was unsure whether a book deserved a 2 or a 3-star rating.  However, I’ve never had indecisions involving possible 5-star reads – those are just faultless books in my eyes, easy!

Since starting this blog, the following books were the ones that I remember struggling to rate the most.

 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

In All the Light We Cannot See, readers are introduced to the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner, whose lives are deeply affected by the events of the Second World War. The overall story is quite inspiring, and I really appreciated the ending. However, I didn’t immediately connect with the characters, mainly because of the structure of the book, which felt too fragmented. I was unsure whether to rate it with 3 or 4 stars. I ended up going for a 4-star rating and now feel like it was the right choice. Continue reading

‘Contos Escolhidos’ by Fernando Pessoa

My rating: 4 stars

Fernando Pessoa, a modernist Portuguese writer, is better known as a poet and for being the author of The Book of Disquiet, but he also wrote various short stories throughout his life. I have recently finished the anthology Contos Escolhidos, comprising ten of his short stories. They are mainly characterised by being quite philosophical and sometimes even featuring esoteric elements. Some of the stories are appealing because of the writing style, while others are more plot-focused.

The first short story featured in this anthology, ‘A Very Original Dinner’, was written in English by the author and is signed by the heteronym Alexander Search. The narrator is a member of the Gastronomical Society of Berlin who spends the first part of the story analysing the personality of Herr Prosit, the president of the association. During one of their meetings, after a discussion about the lack of originality, Prosit invites the other members to attend a very special dinner and afterwards challenges them to discover the reason why it was so original. I was definitely not expecting the story to unfold in the way it did. This is a very dark and twisted tale, which surprised me greatly.

All the other stories were written in Portuguese and had more philosophical elements. ‘A Estrada do Esquecimento’ is a beautifully written account of a man’s thoughts while he rides a horse together with his companions and chief. He muses on his loneliness and existence, while his fears keep on growing. ‘A Hora do Diabo’ is also quite philosophical, being a conversation with the devil about religion, humans and gods. In ‘O Adiador’, the topic explored is how delaying things that must eventually be done is different from failing. And in ‘A Caçada’, we read about a group of people who is on a hunt and, at the beginning, wonder whether they are hunting a person or an animal. This is a good, although quite short, reflection on how humans can feel disconnected from another human being whom they believe to be a criminal. Continue reading