Writing the Seasons with Books: Summer

I’m a true believer that books don’t have to be read at specific times of the year. As long as the story is immersive, it doesn’t matter if it’s hot outside and snowing in the book. So, instead of recommending books that are appropriate for each season, this year I’m writing the four seasons with books. For that purpose, I take a look at my shelves and select books with titles beginning with the letters of the name of the season that is just starting. After doing that for spring, the time has come to welcome summer!

 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

This novel focuses on five connected characters – an actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend and a young actress who is a member of the Travelling Symphony. The plot moves back and forth in time, before and after the spread of a deathly virus. Despite all the negative aspects that resulted from it, some cultural activities managed to subsist.

 

Uma Vida à Sua Frente (The Life Before Us) by Romain Gary

The only book that I’ve read by Romain Gary so far is narrated by Mohammed, a young boy who was being taken care of by Madame Rosa, a Jewish woman who was a former prostitute and Auschwitz survivor. It delves into their relationship and strong bond. Continue reading

Books Worth the Hype

Occasionally there is so much hype surrounding certain books that, instead of being confident that I will enjoy them, I become afraid of reading them. Books that attract a lot of attention, either after being heavily promoted by publishers or loved by many people in the bookish community, can, thus, remain on my shelves or wish list for a long time before I finally decide to pick them up. Some books I end up not understanding why they were so hyped, while others I fully recognise their merits.

Below are some of the books that, in my opinion, are worth all the previous hype around them. They were all written by contemporary authors, seeing that these are the ones that tend to be more publicised and that classics have already passed the test of time. I didn’t love all of them, but I definitely enjoyed them enough to recommend you reading them in case they sound like something you would like.

 

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

I became aware of Jessie Burton’s debut novel when it was released, seeing that it kept appearing on various book hauls on BookTube. I didn’t pay much attention to what it was about to be honest. But I knew that I wanted it on my shelves, because I had fallen in love with the gorgeous cover. This is obviously not the best reason to buy a book. Nonetheless, it ended up being a good acquisition, since I adored it when I finally read it. Continue reading

Favourite Dystopian Books

Lately, the real world seems to be getting worryingly more similar to the ones portrayed in some dystopian novels, and my desire to read books from that genre is also increasing. By showing a regression of political, environmental, economic or social standards, they draw attention to real-world issues that should concern us all.

I haven’t read many dystopian novels, but I quite enjoyed the vast majority of them. There is something strangely appealing about reading a book that focuses on a community being plagued by an undesirable and frightening state of affairs. Today I reveal my three favourite dystopian novels, all delving into different types of societies.

 

1984 by George Orwell      

1984 takes place during a time of perpetual war, government surveillance and public manipulation. Power is in the hands of a single party, which is personified by the Big Brother. The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, works for the Ministry of Truth as a rewriter of historical events. He has an affair with Julia, who shares his animosity towards the Party. Continue reading

Mixed-Media Books

When I hear the word ‘book’, a picture of a sequence of letters on a page springs to mind. However, I’ve read a few books in recent years that make use of additional media to help convey the message of the story. Those can be called mixed-media books, since visual elements accompany the more traditional text. These extra elements can be either relevant documents, changes in the design of the page and text, or a piece of artwork.

One type of mixed-media books consists of traditional text as the main medium, but also includes letters, emails, webpages, social network status, conversations on online forums or interviews. These can either be used to show what the characters are reading or as direct information to the reader. Throughout the decades, many books have featured letters, for example, although graphic elements were not always used to visually set them apart. So, those novels don’t really look like mixed-media books.

However, such elements are quite noticeable in other novels. The Power by Naomi Alderman not only features letters at the beginning and the end, but also presents the reader with archival documents and an extract from a chat on an online forum, in order to tell the story of what women were able to do with supreme power. Excerpts from an interview with the main character, Kirsten Raymonde, are an important element in Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Through them the reader gets more information about what happened when the Georgian flu spread worldwide. Continue reading

Characters Who Could Be Protagonists in New Books

After choosing some of my favourite supporting characters, I started to think about how some of them could be protagonists in new books. Sometimes you just have that desire to know more about a specific character even if the book is not supposed to focus on their story. Some of the characters I am about to mention may not be my favourites, but I think they have the potential to take centre stage in a new or parallel story.

 

Johannes Brandt – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist was my favourite book from the ones I read last year, I wouldn’t particularly change anything about it. But I would definitely read a different book just about Johannes Brandt. He is a complex character, dealing with a difficult situation. Revealing more about him in The Miniaturist wouldn’t have worked, as the mystery surrounding him is an essential part of the book at first and the story is told from Petronella’s point of view.

 

Henry Tilney – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

The idea for this post arose from Henry Tilney being one of my favourite supporting characters. In fact, he is my favourite character in Northanger Abbey thanks to his sarcastic remarks. I would love to know what he was up to before meeting Catherine Morland, the heroine of the novel. Continue reading

Favourite Supporting Characters

The most famous or beloved characters in books are usually the protagonists. However, a fascinating book wouldn’t be the same without captivating supporting characters. They are crucial to add depth to the story and even to the protagonists. Being a supporting character doesn’t mean being secondary to the protagonist or less important. In fact, they usually help us to better understand the main characters.

When I first decided to write about this topic, I thought it would be easy to choose my favourite supporting characters. But I was wrong for a couple of reasons. First, it isn’t always easy to establish if a character has a main or a supporting role. And second, too many characters sprang to mind. Nevertheless, I managed to select six from among the myriad of possibilities.

 

Levin – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The main story in Anna Karenina revolves around Anna and Vronsky, so I consider Levin to be a supporting character. However, I could read an entire book just about him. He’s one of the most enthralling characters in my opinion, because it’s mainly through him that we get to know more about Russian society and politics, and his internal struggle to adjust to having a family (and it not being a perfect experience) is rather thought-provoking.   Continue reading