Friday, May 6, 2016

Catch up reviews from 2015

It appears I did not finish my reviews for Reading England 2015, nor write the reviews for the few other books I have read in the last year! Life has been...interesting, to say the least. But it's finally getting to a point where I have (mostly) figured out how to juggle all the things I want/need to be doing. Plus I am actually reading more often again, making the time for it in ways I regret I did not for awhile. It helps that I'm working at a public library again. It's definitely not the same as Bloomington, but it's better than nothing!


Without further ado.

I have a few things to catch you up on, because I really do refuse to leave out any books.

EDIT: So apparently I hit publish on this post without finishing it. Or maybe Blogger did it for me. I dunno. Whatevs I guess. I'm finishing it now!


As I mentioned above, I didn't read as much as I would have liked last year; in fact, I've already read more books this year than I did over the course of last year. That's sad. I did write a full review of Far From the Madding Crowd which you can find here. For the rest of my Reading England challenge, I read Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens and Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. I also took breaks (mostly during my reading of Dickens because Nickleby is ridiculously long) to read a Japanese novel called The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima, and an Italian novel called Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. Both those authors I had read books by previously.

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens 
     Honestly, this book was super difficult to get into and took me nearly six months to read because I was bored to tears for most of the first half. There's a reason I haven't completed many Dickens novels, as much as I do like his stories. But by the second half, things made more sense and there weren't as many new characters introduced every other page. And I'm glad I read it, because it had a very, very satisfying ending. And Dickens does understand sinful human nature rather well, which is something I greatly appreciate in an author, and also something I think tends to catapult a book to classic status. Understanding the human condition is a pretty big deal. So yeah, I'd recommend it, and I suppose it's a fairly decent starter Dickens, though I'd probably tell you to read A Christmas Carol or Oliver Twist first.

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
     Gaskell is an author I've intended to read for ages, but of course had never gotten around to it. There's a miniseries of Cranford starring Judi Dench, and I have resolutely refused to watch that until I had read the book. Now that I read the book last December, I can watch the show, but haven't made the time for it yet. Anyway, I don't know why I waited so long to read Cranford because it was fairly short (especially after Dickens) and so funny. I mean there were serious moments in it too, but basically the story revolves around the town of Cranford that is mostly ladies and they spend all their time together and when anything happens or there happen to be more men around, things get amusing really fast. It was a cute story, and I intend to read some of Gaskell's other works that are also set in the same area. Note, it's a tad hard to read at first, because the narrator is a character in the story but the tense doesn't always stay the same. Or the grammar is just off.

The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima
     This was probably my favorite novel I read last year, with the possible exception of Far From the Madding Crowd. Set in a tiny fishing village in Japan in the 1950s (I believe), this novel tells the story of Shinji and Hatsue and their young love. Shinji is a fisherman-in-training and Hatsue is the daughter of the richest family in the village. She is also training to be a pearl diver. I already knew Mishima had lyrical writing, even translated into English, from reading Spring Snow, but this book had me so perfectly transported across the world and back in time. I learned much about fishing, pearl diving, mountain shrines, and how love is viewed in rural Japan. It was beautiful and I probably read it in two hours. I'll read it again, I'm positive of that.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
     Going into this novel I fully expected it to be a trip, because If On a Winter's Night a Traveler  definitely was. But this was more than a trip. It was poetry and a novel and a dream all at the same time. It was what my dreams of wanderlust are made of. It was beautiful. The premise is that Marco Polo is telling Kublai Khan of his travels, and each section takes you deeper and deeper until realize...well, I'm not going to tell you. You'll just have to read it yourself. Also, I fully believe Calvino was inspired in part by Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem Kubla Khan. Incidentally, I adore that poem. So yeah, fantastic reading. Calvino is another one of those whose words have been translated so well into English. Just makes me long to read the original Italian, though.


And there you have it, the books I read in 2015. There will be more reviews this year, and most of them shall have their own posts!