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

The Translated Literature Book Tag

I’ve only done a couple of tags since starting this blog around three years ago. For no particular reason other than most of the times I can’t come up with answers to the questions, it’s usually not the type of content that I write. But when I was tagged by Callum to do the Translated Literature Book Tag, created by Diana, for once many books started to spring to mind to answer almost all of the queries.

In the context of this tag, I think it’s important to mention that I can read fluently in Portuguese and English. So, I now only read translations of books originally written in other languages besides those two. But, without further ado, let’s get into the questions.

 

  1. A translated novel you would recommend to everyone

No book can please everyone, so I can’t promise that you will all like my pick for this question. However, as Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch (translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett) mixes a crime story with musings on writing and fiction, I believe that it’s a book that readers of a wide variety of genres may appreciate. A murder is used to justify why reality and fiction have to differ. The story is told from various perspectives, and certain elements are introduced at specific moments to surprise the readers. Continue reading

‘EU Still 28’ Authors to Continue Reading

Throughout 2018 I read one book by an author from each of the present-day 28 EU members states. I called this project ‘EU still 28’. Some of the books that I read were written by authors whose work I was already familiar with. Others, on the other hand, were penned by writers whom I had never read a book by before.

My first time reading certain authors left me eager to know more about their work. Taking into consideration not only my enjoyment of the books that I read but also my interest in the other ones that are currently available in a language that I can read fluently (Portuguese and English), in the future I will certainly read more books by the eight authors listed below.

 

Robert Seethaler

To represent Austria, I read The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler. Having as main character Franz Huchel, it’s a story about sexual awakening set at the time of the rise of Nazism. I now want to read A Whole Life, which is about the return of a soldier to his village in the Alps after the Second World War. Continue reading

Favourite Books I Read in 2018

My reading experience in 2018 was overall dominated by the ‘EU still 28’ project, which consisted in reading one book by an author from each of the still 28 EU member states. I have completed that challenge and, so far, have also managed to read in their entirety ten other books. I’m still reading Christmas Days by Jeanette Winterson. But it wouldn’t be one of my favourite books this year even if I had finished it already, although I’m enjoying it. Thus, I’m ready to reveal which books stood out to me the most in 2018.

Despite not having rated any of the books that I picked up this year with 5 stars, I still read truly good ones. They just weren’t perfect in my eyes. I cannot lie, though, this was not the best reading year in terms of the enjoyment I got from the books that I chose. I gave three books 2 stars and didn’t finish other two.

I’ve rated many books with 4 stars, though. From those I’ve selected the five I liked the most and that were really close to deserve the coveted 5 stars. In reverse order, my favourite books from the ones that I read in 2018 are: Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – June 2018

June is over and July is already here. So, it’s time for me to reveal my newest monthly favourites. This instalment features a book, a TV series, music and a cheeky food reference. I didn’t watch a single film last month, but my ‘too-watch’ list keeps on growing. For whatever reason, I now find films too long. Nonetheless, binge-watching TV series feels totally acceptable (although I haven’t done that in a while either).

Last month I read three books and, without a doubt, my favourite was Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch. Through different perspectives, we are told two intertwined stories, that of Mr. M, a renowned writer who used to be more successful that he currently is, and that of his somewhat creepy neighbour. It mixes a crime story with a reflection on writing and fiction. Despite having finished it at the beginning of June, I still sometimes recall the characters featured in this book.

My favourite TV series from last month is the same as in May – the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale. I particularly loved episode 10. It got me so emotional that I cried. The plot is developing relatively slowly, but that is allowing the viewer to know more about both the main and the secondary characters. Continue reading

‘Dear Mr. M’ by Herman Koch

My rating: 4 stars

To tell a captivating story is not an easy undertaking. When an author decides to pen two intertwined stories told from different perspectives in one single book, the task becomes even more complex. But Herman Koch achieves that almost flawlessly in Dear Mr. M, while mixing a crime story with a reflection on writing, fiction, and the need to choose the right elements in order to create a compelling plot. This is no fast-paced thriller. It uses a murder to explain the necessary differences between fiction and reality.

The book starts with an extended letter to Mr. M, a renowned writer, from a neighbour who is in a way spying on him and his wife. He details everything he knows about Mr M’s movements. It seems that he is aware of all his steps and is obsessed with him and his family. For that reason, the first chapters have quite a creepy feeling to them. It’s slightly uncomfortable how the neighbour is able to paint a picture about what happens at Mr. M’s home from the sounds he hears. When he doesn’t know exactly what is happening, he comes up with informed guesses. But some things he is sure about, like him having a daughter and his wife being much younger than he is. Both of them are away at the time he is writing.

The neighbour is a reader of Mr. M’s books and knows that he is not as famous as he once was. In fact, he sees him as a mediocre writer. Right from the beginning he makes his reservations about his talent quite clear. Continue reading

Book Haul – April 2018

On the 23rd of April, it was World Book Day in Portugal. To be honest, I didn’t know about the existence of such a celebration until I received a newsletter from a retailer announcing book discounts of up to 50%. As I later found out, UNESCO organises World Book Day annually to promote reading, publishing and copyright. However, World Book Day isn’t held on this date worldwide, because there is a probability that it may clash with Easter. For instances, in the UK, World Book Day is on the first Thursday in March.

Obviously, the promise of significant book discounts left me tingling with excitement. And I ended up buying the five books listed below!

 

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

This book by the Swedish author Jonas Jonasson has been on my wish list for years, maybe since I first started watching BookTube channels. I don’t recall why I thought I would like it. But, seeing that I heard many people praising it at the time of its release, I decided to finally read it for the ‘EU still 28’ project. According to the blurb, it follows Nombeko Mayeki, who is on the run from a secret service. Continue reading