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 2018

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we liked all the books that we read? Unfortunately, that is not the case. A book will end up being disappointing sooner or later, either because it was not what we had expected or it didn’t live up to its initial promise. In 2018, I rated three books with 2 stars and didn’t finish other two. For the first time, I’m also mentioning the books that I didn’t read until the end on my most disappointing books of the year, since that is a genuine sign of lack of enjoyment.

 

Panorama by Dusan Sarotar

The narrator of Panorama is a writer from Slovenia who travelled around Europe and spoke with immigrants from various countries of origin. Sadly, it is unnecessarily confusing, and I found it almost impossible to retain information. The characters are forgettable and the writing style excruciating.

 

A Sibila by Agustina Bessa-Luís

This book by the Portuguese writer Agustina Bessa-Luís revolves around Quina, whose characteristics are enumerated by the narrator but never truly shown in practice. The characters are not well developed and the writing style feels forced. To make things worse, nothing particularly remarkable happens plot-wise. Continue reading

‘The Physics of Sorrow’ by Georgi Gospodinov

My rating: 2 stars

The beginning and the ending of The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov have at least one thing in common – they are both exceedingly bewildering. While reading, I kept wondering what could possibly be the purpose of this book. Unfortunately, I still haven’t come up with an answer for that question, and I’m not sure I ever will. It compiles snippets of moments from the narrator’s past, the life of his family and Bulgarian history. These short expositions are supposed to be in some way connected with the myth of the Minotaur, but that association is not always straightforward.

While the prologue suggests that there may be various narrators, there is in fact only one. When he was younger he could go inside the minds of people from his family and, thus, see and relive what happened in the past. This is conveyed in a confusing way, which left me many times unsure about what was happening. Once he went inside his grandfather’s mind and saw him in a tent learning about the myth of the Minotaur, a creature who has the head of a bull and the body of a human.

The narrator was really inquisitive as a boy, which could have been a problem, since he grew up under the communist regime in a poor household. He was particularly interested in the myth of the Minotaur. Although there is even a defence of this mythological creature mid-way through the book, from the narrator’s explanations I couldn’t fully understand the intricacies of the myth. He associates it with abandoned children. Continue reading

Book Haul – September / October 2018

We are less than three months away from the end of the year, and I still have quite a few books left to read in order to complete my ‘EU still 28’ reading project. Last month, I realised that I needed to buy some more of the books on my predetermined list. I obviously also took the opportunity to order a couple of other ones in preparation for winter, although I’m not normally a seasonal reader. Every excuse is a good one when it comes to justify buying books, though!

Below are the nine newest additions to my shelves:

 

Tula by Jurgis Kuncinas

Written by the Lithuanian author Jurgis Kuncinas, Tula takes place in a poor neighbourhood in Vilnius. The narrator dwells on the fringes of society and meets other various curious inhabitants of the same area. I don’t know much more about this book, which I believe also involves a love story. Continue reading