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

‘Seeing People Off’ by Jana Benová

My rating: 3 stars

When I started reading Seeing People Off by the Slovak author Jana Benová, I didn’t immediately try to determine a correlation between the title and the story being told. In fact, it is only more or less halfway through this short novel that the significance of the title becomes quite obvious and that the fragmented plot seems to genuinely serve a purpose. Nevertheless, after finishing the book, I was left wondering about what was “real” and what was fictional in the context of the story.

Elza and Ian live with one another at Petrzalka in Bratislava. The walls of their apartment play music and talk. Together with Rebeka, Elza’s best friend, and Elfman, they established a Quartet – a group of artists who follows a system according to which one of them works to earn money for a time while the others create. Rebeka is the only one who hasn’t worked yet. Away from her group of friends, Elza maintains an affair with Kalisto Tanzi, an artist who is always travelling. It appears that she is looking for something more in life, some novelty.

The first chapter feels somewhat all over the place and confusing. What it conveys only makes more sense after we’re told, in the second one, that Elza has read aloud at Café Hyena the first ten pages of the book she is working on, “Seeing People Off”. This information made me occasionally wonder whether some of the events really happened to the characters or if they were just stories within a story. Continue reading

Book Haul – March 2018

I bought a total of ten books in March. As I didn’t buy them all at once, it was only when I decided to write this post that I realised how many they were. I can’t truly remember the last time I bought so many books in just a month. The majority of them I’m going to read for my ‘EU still 28’ project, while others were at a discount and I don’t seem to be able to resist a bargain.

To know a little bit more about each of my choices, carry on reading!

 

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

I love the covers of the books by Daphne du Maurier from the Virago Modern Classics collection. Since I’m slightly afraid that they may vanish from the market before I have them all, once in a while, I buy one of them even if I don’t plan to read it soon. Jamaica Inn was recommended to me numerous times. It focuses on Mary Yellan, who, after the death of her mother, goes to her aunt Patience’s home. Continue reading