Low-rated Books I Enjoyed

No book will ever be universally loved. Reading is a very personal experience, after all, and what one person may find amazing, another will surely consider dreadful. Thus, there are obviously books that I liked but that have a relatively low average rating on Goodreads. The last time that I checked, the average rating of the four books listed below was lower than 3.4. Nevertheless, I either remember highly enjoying them or rated them with four starts.

 

Glister by John Burnside

This short novel, which has an average rating of 3.11, is a combination of social commentary, atmospheric mystery, magical realism and science fiction. Boys from the Innertown have been going missing for a while. The official explanation is that they left of their own free will. The only police officer in the town knows what really happened to one of the boys, though. Not all of the mysteries are solved by the end of the book, but the personal story of Leonard, one of the narrators, provides some answers.

 

Felizmente Há Luar! by Luís de Sttau Monteiro

Originally published in 1961, this is a Portuguese theatre play that I read a long time ago at school, If I’m not mistaken, when I was in Year 12. It has an average rating of 3.17. Although it’s based on a failed liberal rebellion that took place in 1817, it has a deeper meaning. The true purpose of the author was to delve into the political repression and the persecution that people endured during the fascist regime of the time, reason why it ended up being censured and forbidden. Light is used as a symbol of the victory against oppression. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – November 2018

It’s once again time to reveal my monthly favourites. I didn’t manage to do half of the things that I had planned for November. However, I still got to read four books (some I liked much more than others), watch a couple of TV shows and listen to some great music.

My favourite book from the ones that I finished last month is Glister by John Burnside. It isn’t an easy book to describe, seeing that it’s a mix of social commentary, atmospheric mystery, magical realism and science fiction. Boys have been going missing from the Innertown for some time. The official line is that they left of their own free will. The only police officer in the town knows the fate of one of the boys, though. The personal story of Leonard, one of the narrators, sheds some light on what has been happening, but it also raises questions that don’t have a clear answer.

The 11th season of Doctor Who continues to deserve a place on my monthly favourites. Although some episodes were just average, I quite enjoyed ‘Demons of the Punjab’ and ‘The Witchfinders’. It was a great opportunity to learn about the history of Pakistan and the partition of India, and it was interesting to see the Doctor realise that people now don’t immediately trust her, because she is a woman. Generally-speaking, I’m liking this season much more than the last one, but I’m missing an overall mystery connecting the episodes, which seem to just be single adventures. Continue reading

‘Glister’ by John Burnside

My rating: 4 stars

Readers who always require a book to have a clear and definitive ending are probably not the target audience of Glister by John Burnside. It offers a thought-provoking combination of social commentary and atmospheric mystery, supplemented with a pinch of science fiction and magical realism. Through different points of view, we are told a story full of acts of cruelty and gory descriptions, while being reminded that destitution can destroy a community, in this case one that is also dealing with the disappearance of various young boys.

The first boy to disappear from the Innertown was Mark Wilkinson. He went to the poison wood with a couple of friends looking for the devil. When he went alone further into the woods, never to return, his friends were too scared to go look for him and just ran instead. Later on, Morrison, the only policeman in the town, found the boy suspended from a tree. His hands were bound, and it looked like he had been victim of some kind of sacrifice. He didn’t know what to do. He hadn’t become a policeman to solve murder cases. So, he called Brian Smith, who had helped him get the job, and his men got rid of the body.

Smith convinced Morrison to conceal the boy’s death. But in the following years, other boys went missing. Regarding those cases, Morrison doesn’t know what happened and is unaware of whether they are dead or alive. Deep down he is ashamed of himself, despite people not knowing that he didn’t tell the truth about Mark. The official line is that all of the boys left the Innertown of their own free will, looking for a better life somewhere else. While some people believe this story, others are suspicious. Some think that the boys were murdered and then buried in the ruins of the old chemical plant. 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