Beautiful Covers, Disappointing Books

I’ve published a few posts about my favourite book covers since starting this blog. I did so by only taking into consideration the allure of the cover. Many times, I hadn’t even read the books in question. When I finally did, some ended up being particularly disappointing, reason why I decided not to keep them on my shelves. I don’t keep all of the books that I read, as I don’t have the space nor the desire to do so any longer.

So, four books with beautiful covers no longer have a place on my shelves:

 

Homens Imprudentemente Poéticos by Valter Hugo Mãe

I mentioned this book by the Portuguese writer Valter Hugo Mãe on the second instalment of my favourite book covers. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it and rated it with two stars. It is about two Japanese neighbours, Itaro and Saburo, who are in open conflict. Not only did I not find the plot gripping, I also disliked the writing style. It is too pretentious and completely overpowers the story. Continue reading

Books in Portuguese that Should Be Translated into English

When I decided to create this blog about books, I thought it a good idea to write it in English, although it is not my first language. I don’t regret that choice in the slightest, since it has allowed me to continue practising the language and to interact with fellow readers from all over the world. However, it has also a downside. Sometimes I mention books originally written in Portuguese that are not available in English and, thus, that the majority of you can’t read.

Today’s post will add to this conundrum, seeing that it’s exclusively about books that, to the best of my knowledge, haven’t yet been translated into English but should have. Some of these are available in other languages besides Portuguese, such as Spanish and French, though.

 

Livro by José Luís Peixoto

Set in part in the ‘60s, Livro delves into the Portuguese emigration to France through the story of a specific family. José Luís Peixoto uses more than words to tell this story, which emphasises how difficult it can be to achieve a better life. A circle drawn around particular words helps to convey an important plot point. ‘Livro’ means ‘book’ in Portuguese, and it is not only the title of this novel but also the name of a crucial character. Continue reading

Most Disappointing Books of 2017

Unfortunately, we, readers, not always enjoy the books we decide to pick up. Irrespective of how much research we do on a book, our expectations may end up not being met. In 2016, the year I started blogging, I read two books that disappointed me, although I didn’t completely dislike them. They were just tolerable reads I was expecting to like much more than I actually did. This year, however, I can surely say I didn’t like three of the books that I read.

 

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The main character of this novel, Jim Hawkins, unknowingly joins a group of pirates in search of Captain Flint’s hidden treasure. I was hoping for a thrilling adventure, but instead got a joyless bland story which I, nevertheless, manged to read until the end.

 

Homens Imprudentemente Poéticos by Valter Hugo Mãe

After liking A Desumanização by the Portuguese author Valter Hugo Mãe, I was expecting to also enjoy this novel about two Japanese neighbours, Itaro and Saburo, who are in open conflict. But my expectations were completely misplaced. The plot didn’t appeal to me at all and the writing style completely overpowered the story. Its pretentiousness even irked me in some instances. Continue reading

Book Unhaul

My shelves are, at the moment, jam-packed with books, and I’m having trouble finding space to store the last ones that I bought. They are just dangerously piled on top of my other unread books. In order to mitigate that problem, I decided to take from my shelves some of the books that I’m sure I won’t be reading ever again.

Currently, I still keep on my shelves the majority of the books I read when I was a teenager. But I’ve now decided to donate the majority of them to my local library. I’ll just keep a few of those I loved the most. Those that I won’t keep any longer are by four Portuguese authors, two of them being co-authors:

 

Maria Teresa Maia Gonzalez

Estrela à Chuva

A Viagem do Bruno

Parabéns, Rita!

Poeta (às vezes)

Dietas e Borbulhas Continue reading

‘Homens Imprudentemente Poéticos’ by Valter Hugo Mãe

My rating: 2 stars

Homens Imprudentemente Poéticos by the Portuguese writer Valter Hugo Mãe tells the tale of two neighbours, Itaro and Saburo, who are in open conflict, and exposes how suffering can significantly change a man who used to believe in love above all. This story, full of mystic elements, takes place in ancient Japan in a small town near a mountain, where people used to go to commit suicide. But it wasn’t the dark undertones that made me dislike the book. The reason was it feeling quite pretentious.

Itaro was an artisan who could see the future when he killed an animal. After stabbing a beetle, he saw that a wise man was to arrive. But that was not the vision that sparked the animosity with his neighbour Saburo, who was a potter. Once he told him that his wife, Fuyu, was going to be killed by an animal which would come down from the mountain nearby.

Since he had already started taking care of the flowers at the bottom of that mountain, Saburo decided to turn the forest into a garden, hoping to tame the animals and so avoid his wife being killed. His plan was not successful, though. His wife died anyway. Afterwards he continued planting flowers, as he believed that if the garden became bigger, the gods would be able to see it and would love him to the point of sending his dear wife back to him. Continue reading

Authors I Want to Read More Books By

To read a book by an author new to us can sometimes be a daunting experience, as we are usually not certain about what to expect. It can either be a fantastic new discovery or a great disappointment. In the latest years, I’ve been lucky to discover new authors whose work I want to continue to delve into. These are some of the authors I’ve only read one book by but want to read more for various and different reasons.

 

Kate Atkinson

At the end of last year, I read A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson and it was one of my favourite books of 2016. This is a good enough reason to want to read more of her books, but there is another. Some of the same characters are also featured in Life After Life, leaving me quite curious about this particular book.

 

John Burnside

The Dumb House by John Burnside was also one of my favourite books of last year. I loved the exquisite writing style. Thus, I already have quite a few books by him on my wish list. Continue reading

‘A Desumanização’ by Valter Hugo Mãe

My rating: 4 stars

The Portuguese author Valter Hugo Mãe reflects on the effects that the death of dear ones has on people in his novel A Desumanização (unfortunately I couldn’t find an English translation of the book). Through a poetic writing style, we travel to the Icelandic fjords where we meet Halldora, a girl whose twin sister (Sigridur) has died.

The book is narrated by Halldora. She tells in the first person how she felt like when her sister died, and how difficult it was for her to cope with feeling like she had to be two people at the same time. Everything is told from her point of view. There are no real dialogues, only the narrator expressing her feelings and memories, telling what other people said and conveying what she has discovered about past events.

Her relationship with her parents is a complex one. Her mother seems to be in a state of deep pain. She is aggressive towards Halldora, since she believes that she shouldn’t be alive whereas her sister was death. On the other hand, her father, a poem writer, has a close bond with her and is more loving. Continue reading

Book Haul – October / November 2016

Before I started this blog, back in June, I decided not to buy any more books until I finally read the ones that I’d already had on my shelves. I managed to stick to that intention until last month, when I couldn’t resist the temptation any longer. Then I changed the goal to not buying any more books until January and… I failed again and bought more books last week. So, the time is right to do a book haul!

These are the books that I bought recently:

 

Contos Escolhidos by Fernando Pessoa

This is a collection of short stories by the famous Portuguese author who is, however, better known as a poet. I have never read any of his short stories, so I am really curious to do so. Fernando Pessoa also wrote in English and, in fact, the first short story featured in this collection is called A Very Original Dinner and is accompanied by a Portuguese translation. All the other stories featured in this collection are in Portuguese, though. Continue reading