Saturday, November 5, 2016

Read in October

You know how sometimes you go through those funny reading slumps? Where you have so much promising material but for whatever reason, you lack the motivation to read at all? Well, October was that kind of month for me, which is fine, but it seems I put unnecessary pressure on myself and feel oddly 'guilty' when I haven't been reading as frequently as I normally would. As much as I would ideally like to reach my reading goal this year, the moment reading becomes the semblance of a chore, the less I enjoy it, understandably. So from now on, I'm going to accept that reading slumps happen. They don't last forever after all. Sometimes you just have to let it be.

As a result of last month's reading efforts, this post will be nice and short and sweet.

Vinegar Girl - Anne Tyler
“Funny how you have to picture losing a thing before you think you might value it after all.”
I had seen the cover of this book floating around the internet over the past year and it piqued my interest because of how beautiful it is. I was hesitant to pick it up initially as I have never read Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, of which this novel is a retelling. Nonetheless, I went with it in the end, as I had heard rave reviews by the likes of Sanne (bookandquills) on Youtube. I'm afraid that my overall opinion of Vinegar Girl may fall short of its true merit as I was obviously unable to draw parallels to the original tale by Shakespeare and therefore cultivate an informed critique. For what it's worth though, this book is an easy, quirky and enjoyable read. Anne Tyler does a marvelous job of making the scenario, of a father trying to marry off his very high strung daughter, as credible as it could ever get, especially in a contemporary context. It must've been no easy feat! After reading this reinterpretation, I'm keen to check out the others to come by Hogarth. 3/5

Beauty is a Wound - Eka Kurnawan
 "One afternoon on a weekend in March, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty-one years."
This novel was lent to me by a close friend with high recommendation. She struggled at the time to give me a succinct overview of what it's about, and having now read it, I can understand why: it is quite an epic novel! In addition to one of the most compelling opening lines I've ever come across (see above) and my friend stating that I would 'never expect the twist at the end' (which happens to inspire the title) I was excited to get into it. I have to be honest though and note that it took longer than I expected to get through it, which is to no fault of the writing. Beauty is a Wound is quite a dark satire and damning commentary on the history of Indonesia. Approaching the subject matter therefore, as a reader with very little understanding of Indonesia's history, was a challenging and slow process but at the same time rewarding as I was able to engage in further reading about certain reference points I didn't quite understand. Yet, even if I didn't get so involved in understanding the context of all the events as they unfolded, the novel can be read and enjoyed simply because it is so well written and there's so much going on that I didn't lose interest.  There's war, colonialism, fairy tales and legends, communism and stories of love all thrown into the mix. What I loved above all was the focus on the five main female protagonists, consisting an Indonesian-Dutch prostitute Dewi Ayu and her four daughters. Through reading about their lives leading to their tragic ends, I realised that it's not often I come across a narrative which presents such vibrant and multifaceted female characters. While a challenging read, it was highly worthwhile. It both excited and shocked me throughout. 4/5

What did you read in October and what books do you hope to read this month?

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