It’s all about books.. Well at least books have an important role of my life. They form a way to escape reality; for me to enter a different world. A place where everything is possible, only limited by the imagination of its writer. Like someone famous once said: ‘Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body‘.
I’ve been reading ever since I was three years old, devouring books by dozens at my hometown library. Then the idea came up to start keeping track of the books I’ve read. So here this humble page with random books I’ve been reading since November 2012… With more to come.
Any tips and/or comments are welcome.
Below a complete list of the books I’ve been reading since November 2012… Most books found at the hostel I was working at the moment, others found on the internet and a few preciously owned by my own person. So here it goes: Continue reading
Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
I must admit I saw the movie much before even considering reading this novel. The extravagant world of Jay Gatsby during the twenties really came alive on the screen, and it made me wonder how the paper version would be. So I decided to find a copy, and I must say that I wasn’t disappointed at all. It’s not the typical novel and the exuberant world Gatsby moves around in might not be to your taste. But it is without doubt that the way F. Scott Fitzgerald is able to show us this world they live in is brilliant. The first part might not be that interesting for those who prefer action, but the second half makes up for it and The Great Gatsby has its share of drama and death.
We get to know Jay Gatsby through Nick Carraway, his neighbor and narrator of this story. Gatsby finds out about the family ties between Nick and his long lost sweetheart Daisy, and asks his neighbor for help in reconquering his true love. Because, as in most drama storylines, Daisy had already married someone else. Jay Gatsby was poor back then and had gone to war… And she was tired of waiting for Gatsby to come back and afraid of losing the priviledged life she was enjoying until then. Slowely and through Nick we come to know more about Daisy, Gatsby and their dreamlike world (and their secrets). Things become more intense when we find out that Tom, the husband of Daisy, has an affair, and then all the different parties meet. It is a big mix of three different love triangles, with Nick in the middle as the only spark of reason within all the chaos.
Things escalate towards the end with terrible consequences… And two deaths as a result. It shows us that life is only temporary and that even the most extraordinary things come to an end. I must say I really enjoyed The Great Gatsby; it is almost a work of art and more similar to poetry than to normal prose. It might not be my normal taste of genre, but it is definitely worth reading.
Title: The Mist
Author: Stephen King
I’m not sure what to think of this one. Normally I enjoy his work, but I felt The Mist was too short, and too many important details were missing. I know Stephen King ment it to be short, but still… It wasn’t completely satisfying. Anyway, The Mist is about how people of a small town react to a post-apocalyptic crisis situation. One day, a big storm rages over the lake and brings with it a terrible mist. The storm ends suddenly, but the mist doesn’t go away. In fact it only seems to advance more… The people try to ignore the mist, and David leaves his wife at home while he goes to town with his son to shop for groceries. Then all hell breaks loose and the mist turns out to be murderous. A whole bunch of people are stuck inside the supermarket, trapped by the mist and no way of getting out alive…
There are two groups within the supermarket: those who want to find a way out, and those who believe the mist is a sign of Judgement Day. The second group grows larger by the day, especially after the ‘things’ in the mist start to claim victims… All kinds of creatures run loose out there, and more during the night than during the day. Various times small groups try to leave the supermarket, with more deaths as a consequence. But David is determined to save his son from both the creatures of the mist and the people inside the supermarket who now believe human sacrifice is the only answer… Together with a few others he wants to try and get to the car on the parking lot, hoping that inside they will be safe. But when they make it, where will they try to escape to?
It’s short and definitely intriguing, so if you don’t mind that some important details are missing, you will enjoy it. Ignore the mentioning of numerous brand names and enjoy the creepy creatures that are luring within the mist… And be ready to wonder how the story ends after the open ending Stephen King leaves us with.
Title: I Heard That Song Before
Author: Mary Higgins Clark
Mary Higgins Clark isn’t one of my preferred authors even though she is writing novels belonging to the thriller genre I very much enjoy in general. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this one, but since I wasn’t in the mood to read something heavy, I started this novel anyway. I Heard That Song Before was ok. It had a nice plot twist in the end, but for me too much emphasis was put on the relationship between Kay and Peter, without elaborating the beginning of this very sudden romance. I understand both are key characters, but still it slowed down the story considerately. And the most important part, the explaining of the sudden romance, was too short and made the rest of the story less believable. All in all after reading I Heard That Song Before I’m still not a Mary Higgins Clark fan.
The story is about a very wealthy family, the Carringtons, whose estate has suffered from various tragic events, all related to the young heir Peter Carrington. When he was around twenty the girl he was dating, Susan Althorp, suddenly disappeared, and he was the ‘person of interest’ in the case. Also, the landscaper and father of Kay Lansing disappeared a few weeks later and rumors said he commited suicide. A few years later his then seven months pregnant wife Grace fell into the pool and drowned… And again all eyes are on Peter. They never found sufficient evidence to prove anything, but during twenty years that followed the disappearance of Susan the authorities never left Peter alone.
Then the dying mother of Susan asks a private investigation to re-open the case so she can find some closure on the disappearance of her daughter before she passes away. Meanwhile, the daughter of the landscaper, Kay Lansing, falls hopelessly in love with Peter Carrington and they rush into a marriage after only five weeks. Soon after the honeymoon new evidence relating to the old cases shows up, and Susans body is discovered at the Carrington estate. Peter gets accused of the murder and they take him away. Kay believes in his innocence and tries to find out the truth, along with the same private investigator Susans mother hired. And they find out the Carrington family has been hiding various dark secrets as well as they have been protecting each other… Peter might not be guilty afterall, and his wife Kay may be in danger. Mary Higgins Clark managed to put in a nice plot twist in the end, which made it worthwhile finishing the novel. I guess I have to admit that for me this novel was nothing special, but I suppose it is good enough for a rainy or cold weekend without anything to do.
Title: Insurgent (Divergent Series #2)
Author: Veronica Roth
I wasn’t too sure about reading the second part of the Divergent series, but curiosity took over and I decided to get my hands on a copy of Insurgent. Unfortunately, the story didn’t get better than the first novel. No, it got a lot worse. To be honest, I was rather disappointed by lack of action throughout the story combined with the focus on the relationship between Tris (Beatrice) and Four (Tobias). I wasn’t expecting feeling those things after having read Divergent, and I must say I didn’t like it at all. Insurgent isn’t about the problems between the five factions anymore, it is more about the complicated relationship between Tris and Four and about the exaggerated fears Tris faces on a daily basis. And that was exactly what I didn’t sign up for: a romance novel. Yuk.
Anyway, in Insurgent things become more tense and Tris and the other Divergents have to rely more and more on their special skills. Everybody suffers from the war and the factionless become more powerful every day. The Erudite still maintain the power and try to control the population by improving their simulation serums. But they need a guinea pig to test if they work on Divergents, and here Tris ‘the suddenly selfless’ shows up to save they day. Later she betrays her boyfriend and the rest of the Dauntless by working together with his father Marcus in trying to recover valuable information from the Erudite. I honestly don’t understand she did that without even knowing for sure Marcus wasn’t lying. And the end didn’t satisfy at all… I’m not sure what to think of Insurgent and I definitely won’t be reading the third novel any time soon.
Title: Divergent (Divergent Series #1)
Author: Veronica Roth
Described as being a mixture between Brave New World and The Hunger Games, I knew this first novel out of a trilogy would be interesting. I must admit I enjoyed it. But still, I couldn’t stop thinking of the many similarities with the Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. Even the main heroines are too similar to be a coincidence. Both Tris and Katniss have the same characteristics and act alike. It seems like Veronica Roth copied the basic ideas of Collins and changed the story setting to create a ‘new’ bestseller. I understand her wanting to recreate the previous successful formula, but still I would have liked something more innovating. And although I liked Divergent, I must admit I prefer The Hunger Games. Go Katniss!
Anyway, Divergent is set in a world which is separated in five different factions, each with their own characteristics. We have Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (peacefulness), Candor (honesty), Dauntless (braveness) and Erudite (intelligence). Our heroine Beatrice Prior, later to be called Tris, is born into the Abnegation faction, but feels she doesn’t belong there. There is something special about her, something dangerous: she is Divergent. She actually has traits of three different factions and could belong to any of those three. People who are Divergent are seen as a threat to the delicate balance of the five factions and Tris is forced to keep her true identity secret.
At sixteen, every teenager has to do a test and then choose their faction. Tris chooses to leave her family and join the Dauntless faction. With the other iniciates she struggles to complete the difficult Dauntless training, where not all iniciates are intended to survive the training stage. She manages to adapt quite well, but is in constant danger of exposing her true identity. One of the trainers, Four (or Tobias), tries to help her and they fall in love… Which for me is a bit too tacky, but I guess that’s what you get when you read a young adult novel.
Just as the training programme ends, all hell breaks loose and the Abnegation faction is attacked. The Erudite brainwash the Dauntless with a special serum so they attack, but the serum doesn’t work on Divergents. Together with a few others Tris escapes and the try to stop the simulation the serum causes… With serious consequences. This one makes a nice read if you don’t mind reading a lesser version of the Hunger Games and enjoy young adult novels. It is easy to read, and although sometimes a bit tacky and unbelievable, in overall enjoyable.
Title: Schindler’s List (Original title Schindler’s Ark)
Author: Thomas Keneally
Schindler’s List is to be considered a classic and definitely worth reading, especially if you are interested in the history of the Second World War. I already read this novel before in high school, and I’ve seen the movie aswell. But since it has been a while, I decided to read it again. I must admit that the movie moved me more than the book, which seemed a bit ‘dry’ at certain points. But still the story of Oskar Schindler and his Schindlerjuden will surely both shock and amaze you.
The novel tells us the story of how Oskar Schindler was able to save over one thousand Jews of a horrible death during the Second World War. It is a true story, which makes it that much more impressive. Schindler is a German industrialist who decided to start a factory with mostly Jewish workers, and thereby saving them of being send to Nazi death camps like Auschwitz. He encounters all kind of problems on the way and various people try to stop him, but the charmant Schindler is able to convince them all of the importance of his factory. It’s a story of heroes, tragedies, violence, hope. Families ripped apart by the Holocaust, others brought together again against all odds… And Schindler was there to protect his Schindlerjuden until the very end. Schindler’s List is an impressive story of how one person can make a difference in so many lives in such a difficult situation. About a man who decided to go against the rules of the Nazi’s and do what he thought was just. A must read if you ask me.
Title: To Kill A Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
To Kill A Mockingbird is for many a classic, so I thought it was about time to read it. The novel is set in Maycomb Alabama during the Depression, and tells us the story of the Finches and what happens in their town. We follow Scout, Jem and their father Atticus Finch during three years of their life. During this period Harper Lee shows us a variety of significant themes important during the Depression and in Southern United States. It treats racism when a young colored man gets wrongly accused of having raped a young white woman, and the town doesn’t approve Atticus defending him in court. It is also shown in the relationship between their colored maid Cal and the two Finch children. Although in a way she replaces the role of their mother, Cal is not openly accepted by white society.
Also, Harper Lee shows us the different social classes and how they interact. Every family in Maycomb has its own history and class, and are to behave according to that class. Scout for example is a rather boyish girl who doesn’t like dresses, but her aunt is trying to force her to behave more lady-like. In Atticus we see the struggle for justice and change… Although the man accused of rape, Tom, doesn’t get free, Atticus still continues to fight for what he thinks is right.
It’s an interesting story and definitely worth reading. We can see the two young Finch children growing up and trying to understand what happens in the world… And the whole story is told through the eyes of the young Scout. The novel also questions racism and shows us the discrimination, inequality and injustice affecting the colored inhabitants of Maycomb. If you like these kind of stories, make sure you read To Kill A Mockingbird.