3-Star Books I Kept Because of a Specific Feature

A few years ago, I decided against keeping on my shelves all of the books that I read. First, I gave away almost all of the books that I read when I was a child and a teenager. I only kept the ones that I assumed I would still enjoy if I ever read them again as an adult. Then I decided to only keep the books that I enjoyed or loved, that is to say the ones that I rated with either four or five stars, plus some special three-star reads.

You may be wondering what makes a three-star book special. It has to fall within at least one of a couple of categories: having been almost a 4-star read, which was the case of Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors and The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis; being part of a collection, such as the Penguin English Library, or of a book series which I enjoy in general; or featuring a specific element that stood out to me because of how well it was crafted. I also used to keep 3-star books by authors whose work I overall cherish, but I only do so now when they fit into one of the previous categories.

The eight books below stood out from other 3-star reads because they feature a character that I loved, an interesting structure, an intriguing narrator, a tangible array of feelings or one strand of many that I highly enjoyed. Continue reading

Writing the Seasons with Books: Spring

I don’t consider myself a seasonal reader, meaning that I don’t tend to read books in a way that agrees with the season we are in. I usually read more fantasy and adventure books than normal during summer. And Halloween is generally my favourite time of the year to read unsettling novels. However, I’m also known to read books set during the winter in the summer and gothic, creepy novels while the flowers are blooming with the arrival of spring. Thus, I won’t be recommending you books to read during this spring. Any book is a good one!

Instead, I’ve decided to take a look at my shelves and select six books with titles beginning with the letters of the word ‘spring’. This wasn’t as easy to achieve as I first thought. And I had to cheat slightly! But below are the books with which I’m writing ‘spring’.

 

Sonetos by Florbela Espanca    

Florbela Espanca was a Portuguese poet who lived during the early 20th century. Her sonnets generally delve into the topics of love and passion. But they also convey pessimism and suffering, complemented with a pinch of sensuality. 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 I Want to Read Before the End of 2016

I don’t usually establish to-be-read lists. However, now that we are in the last quarter of the year, there are some books that I really want to read before 2016 comes to an end. The list features books written by contemporary authors, some classics and Portuguese poetry.

The Dumb House by John Burnside is a book that I have been wanting to read for quite a while. The story focuses on a narrator that uses his own children as subjects of an experiment to recreate the Dumb House of Persian myth. I expect this novel to be quite dark and disturbing.

To continue my endeavour to read more books by female authors, I also want to read A God in Ruins. I don’t know much about this novel by Kate Atkinson, besides it being set around the time of the Second World War, which is usually a theme I am interested in reading about.

Continue reading