Most Owned and Read Authors – Update

At the beginning of last year, I published a post on my most owned and read authors and decided to write a similar one once every year to see how that list changed over time. The most predominant writers among my read books are more or less the same this time around, and the slight changes which occurred are mainly due to my decision to take some of the books from my childhood and teenage years out of my shelves, since I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be reading them ever again.

So, I now believe that writing a post like this every year is a bit excessive, since no substantial changes are bound to occur in such a period of time, unless I get rid of more books, which is unlikely in the near future. I’m now keener on only writing an updated version of my most owned and read authors when I can distinguish significant changes on the list below beforehand.

The current list features four of the same authors present in the first one, and there is only one new addition. Continue reading

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Book Haul – November / December 2017

I don’t know if you remember, but I was trying not to buy any more books until the end of the year. Obviously, I was unsuccessful! I blame Black Friday and other random discounts. I probably won’t even manage to get to some of the books mentioned below during the following twelve months or so, thanks to a reading plan I have for next year (I’ll reveal it on a future post about my bookish resolutions for 2018). But it’s really hard to resist a bargain.

So, without further ado (and pointless excuses), these are my most recent acquisitions:

 

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is one of the authors I plan to read a book by every year. So, I needed to buy a new one for 2018. It was quite easy to choose Alias Grace, because I’m rather curious about the TV series adaptation and don’t want to watch it before reading the book. Inspired by the 1843 murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery in Upper Canada, it delves into the story of Grace Marks through a “tale of sexuality, cruelty and mystery”. Continue reading

Favourite Supporting Characters

The most famous or beloved characters in books are usually the protagonists. However, a fascinating book wouldn’t be the same without captivating supporting characters. They are crucial to add depth to the story and even to the protagonists. Being a supporting character doesn’t mean being secondary to the protagonist or less important. In fact, they usually help us to better understand the main characters.

When I first decided to write about this topic, I thought it would be easy to choose my favourite supporting characters. But I was wrong for a couple of reasons. First, it isn’t always easy to establish if a character has a main or a supporting role. And second, too many characters sprang to mind. Nevertheless, I managed to select six from among the myriad of possibilities.

 

Levin – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The main story in Anna Karenina revolves around Anna and Vronsky, so I consider Levin to be a supporting character. However, I could read an entire book just about him. He’s one of the most enthralling characters in my opinion, because it’s mainly through him that we get to know more about Russian society and politics, and his internal struggle to adjust to having a family (and it not being a perfect experience) is rather thought-provoking.   Continue reading

Favourite Classics

What is a classic? There isn’t a single definition, but there are some common characteristics in the ones put forward by authors and scholars. Classics are books that are widely accepted as noteworthy throughout a long period of time. However, they are not classics only because they are old. Books regarded as classics feel fresh even centuries after being written.

I have read quite a few classics. Ones I loved, some I only enjoyed, while others I just couldn’t see the reason why people kept on reading them after such a long time. My five favourite classics are:

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Elizabeth Bennet is my favourite of Jane Austen’s heroines. She is intelligent, playful and witty, but tends to judge people on first impressions. She is the second child in a family of five daughters, whose mother is eager to get them married. After all, “it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”. Is there a better opening line? Continue reading

Most Owned and Read Authors

Every time I read books by authors who are new to me and I enjoy them, I proceed to search for other books they may have written, in order to know more about their work. So, I own more than one book by many different authors. But who are the most prevalent writers on my shelves?

When I was perusing the books that I have read, I realised that during my early teenage years I used to read many books by the same authors. Since I keep the ones I remember liking the most back then, the following list features some authors who I probably won’t be reading any more books by. On the other hand, I will continue reading some of the authors I am about to mention in the future, as I am still interested in their currently published books and upcoming work.

As my list of read books continues to grow, I plan to do a similar blog post every year to see how it changes. I intended to mention five authors. However, since I read the same number of books by the last two authors on the list, it features six. Continue reading

Favourite Books by Portuguese Authors

Portuguese authors don’t seem to be that well known to book bloggers who are not from Portugal or from other Portuguese-speaking countries. For that reason, I decided to share with you five of my favourite books by Portuguese writers. They are listed in no special order and I read them throughout the years.

 

O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis) by José Saramago

So far, I have read three books by the only Portuguese writer to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, José Saramago. O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis in the English translation) is my favourite. It tells the story of Ricardo Reis, a doctor and a poet, who returns to Portugal after living in Brazil. The idea behind the book stems from Fernando Pessoa’s heteronyms, all of whom are characters created by the poet to write in different styles. The most famous are Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis and Álvaro de Campos. José Saramago transforms Ricardo Reis into a real person who arrives in Lisbon, after the death of his friend Fernando Pessoa, and discovers a country living under a newly established dictatorship.

 

Os Maias (The Maias) by Eça de Queirós

As the title suggests, in this book we are introduced to the Maia family. The novel is built around two plots. One focuses on the relationship between Pedro da Maia and Maria Monforte; while the other, which is the main plot of the book, revolves around Carlos da Maia and Maria Eduarda. However, what this novel excels at is creating a portrait of the 19th century Lisbon, its vices and political corruption, with lots of satire in the mix.

Continue reading

Eça de Queirós: the 19th century Portuguese master of social commentary

If you aren’t Portuguese, you’re probably not familiar with Eça de Queirós, whom some consider to be on the same literary level as Dickens or Balzac. Born in 1845, he is one of the authors young people have to study at school. Some come to love him and others to loathe him, as it’s usually the case with the authors who are required reading. In my case, he became one of my favourite Portuguese authors and one I believe that deserves to be better known.

Eça de Queirós can’t be categorised into one single literary movement. His first works showed characteristics of the Romanticism movement; in a second phase he adhered to Realism / Naturalism; and he was afterwards influenced by Impressionism and Symbolism. My favourite books by him are generally placed in the literary realism movement, and I dare say that this is the phase he’s most known for.

The literary realism movement, which in Portugal appeared around 1865/1870, intends to present reality as it is, describing it in the most objective and detailed way possible. The authors who followed this movement in the mid-19th century intended to portray the vices of society through symbolic characters, whose very existence serves to embody some major idea or aspect of society. And this is one of the reasons why I liked the novels that I read by Eça de Queirós so much. Continue reading