Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Books I Read in March

My reading didn't kick off on a great start at the beginning of this year, and it has only been the past month that I have been able to get back into a routine again. It was nice in a way to take a break from reading, but I certainly missed it! 
March was a great month as I read a modest amount of amazing books which I would highly recommend. I now feel motivated to seek out some excellent material for April, so if you have any recommendations, I would love to know.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt 
But how,” said Charles, who was close to tears, “how can you possibly justify cold-blooded murder?’Henry lit a cigarette. “I prefer to think of it,” he had said, “as redistribution of matter.” 
I don't think this book needs any introduction, being so highly revered, and it was for this reason that I had been wanting to read it for so long. Funnily enough though, I much prefer Tartt's latest novel titled The Goldfinch. The Secret History had me gripped for a while, there's no doubt about that. But about halfway through, I began to tire of the characters and the pace in which events were progressing. In saying that though, I can understand why this book is so popular; Tartt's writing style is indescribable and it hooked me from the very first line. I also really admire how she was able to construct characters who you both despise but at the same time feel oddly enthralled by. The writer's ability to screw with your emotions and prompt you to take a step back and reevaluate how you feel is what I find to be really clever writing, and Tartt does just that. 3.5/5

Monsieur Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran by Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt 
"Le coeur de l'homme est comme un oiseau enfermé dans la cage du corps. Quand tu danses, le coeur, il chante comme un oiseau qui aspire à se fondre en Dieu." (The human heart is like a bird trapped in the cage of the body. When you dance, the heart, he sings like a bird that longs to merge with God)
This is such a charming little novel. In under 100 pages, it tells the story of a thirteen year old Jewish French boy called Moïse who has a difficult relationship with his Father, but forms a touching friendship with an old Turkish shopkeeper, by the name Monsieur Ibrahim, who practices Sufism, a concept of Islam. Despite Moïse's initial misconceptions of Monsieur Ibrahim, he comes to love him as Monsieur Ibrahim guides him through trying times, often with reference to the teachings of his beloved Coran.
If not just for the lovely story, I would highly recommend reading this in French for those studying the language at an intermediate level, as it is fairly simple and easy to understand. Overall, a pleasure to read! 3.5/5

The Dinner by Herman Koch 
“Happiness needs nothing but itself; it doesn't have to be validated. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in it's own way.”
Oh.My.God. Those are the three words that instantly spring to mind when I think about this book. I'm still so shocked by it and am still coming to terms with the ending. The Dinner is about two couples who meet at a restaurant and the chapters are divided into sections dedicated to each course. I instantly disliked the main protagonist, who is such a grump and likes to nit pick at everything. The novel then introduces the other characters, being Paul's wife Claire, his brother Serge (who initially seems even more unbearable than Paul) and Serge's wife Babette. From the Aperitif chapter onward, things go from kinda-already-bad to even worse as the couples must come to terms with a crime committed by their teenage sons. I ended up hating all the characters in the novel, asides from Serge who seemed to have the most common sense out of them all in the end. This novel has prompted divided opinions for the reason that it is so hard to read at some moments because you become so disgusted by the actions of Paul and Claire. But I personally loved it, due to my penchant for novels with unreliable narrators and their ability to mess you around (much like The Secret History in a way). It's delicious but also incredibly frightening. One things for sure, The Dinner ensures a reading experience like none other. 4/5
Josie Spicer said...

I really enjoyed 'The Dinner'. It frustrated me to no end but I appreciated that Koch didn't try to write characters you could relate to or enjoy. Everyone made poor decisions. It also made me question what I would do in that situation (which ended up being 'tell the god damn police').

Carina Maree said...

I know right! I think if I had children and they did anything like that I would go to the police quick smart!

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