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

‘The New Sorrows of Young W.’ by Ulrich Plenzdorf

My rating: 3 stars

The New Sorrows of Young W. by the German writer Ulrich Plenzdorf has the particularity of being narrated by a dead teenager, who takes the opportunity to recall the ultimate months of his short life. Since we know from the outset that Edgar Wibeau died on a 24th of December, the interest of this novel lies in discovering more about the events preceding his death, which was caused by an accident involving electricity.

The book has quite an interesting structure. Edgar’s father is trying to understand what happened to his son, whom he didn’t see for many years. So, we are presented with his conversations with various people, the first of them being Edgar’s mother. These exchanges are interrupted by Edgar who, after his death, comments on what they are saying, offering further explanations and correcting them when they’re wrong, although only the readers can hear him.

We learn that Edgar had been an apprentice at a factory, but he quitted and ran away from home. He went to Berlin at first to apply to an arts school. Despite being turned down, he remained in the city. He didn’t contact his mother but sent some recorded tapes with citations from a book (The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) to his friend Willi. Continue reading

Book Haul – January 2018

I decided to celebrate the arrival of 2018 by buying more books! And, more importantly, I badly needed three of them for my ‘EU still 28’ reading project. Two of the four books I recently acquired were written by authors I haven’t read before, while the other two are by an author whose work I’m already familiar with and that I tend to really enjoy.

The four newest additions to my shelves are:

 

The Life of Hunger by Amélie Nothomb

The Life of Hunger is the book I chose to read by a Belgian writer for the ‘EU still 28’ project. It’s a fictional memoir about the formative journeys of Nothomb’s youth, during which she suffered from acute anorexia. Continue reading