Tuesday, August 25, 2015

2015 | Book Challenge No.3

My library stack has continued to grow due to my inability to say no to a book. Consequently, I have to tear myself away from each book - currently Susanna Kaysen's Girl, Interrupted - to write about the previous reads.

further reading: intro / part 1 / part 2

11. A book set in a different country - The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
It's been a while since I've read a book written as a frame story - the novel takes place during a single evening in a cafe in Lahore, where a Pakistani man named Changez relates his life and experiences in New York before and after 9/11 to an American visitor. The book is entirely one-sided; Changez's words make up the entirely of the prose, and though he often replies to questions the American asks, we never see the American's exact words. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is full of apprehension despite the lack of violence and the book ends on an uncertain note, leaving a suspenseful feeling long after the novel is finished.

12. A book with more than 500 pages - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
I am utterly ashamed at how long it took me to actually read this book; it's been on my reading list for forever but I've never felt like it was the right "season" to read it and I wouldn't properly appreciate it, so I kept putting it off. I finally, finally made myself read it and is one of the most incredible books I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Written in 1943 but opening in 1912, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows an Irish-American girl named Francie and her family through the first two decades of her life. Nothing shocking, unexpected, or otherwise exciting happens, but it's an honest, unflinching look at the poverty of the time and the methods - joyful and tragic - that the characters use to live with it. 

13. A book a friend recommended - A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
I had a hard time reading A Clockwork Orange as the prose was written almost entirely from the main character's perspective and he spoke in his own form of slang, but I nevertheless appreciated the themes of the story. This 1962 dystopian novel uses the narrative of a violent teenager named Alex to tackle the matter of choice in good and evil, because, as several characters point out, "when a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man." Stretching just over 150 pages with a controversial final chapter, A Clockwork Orange is worth a once-through and will leave the reader with either a sense of hope or a feeling of dread depending on the version read.

14. A book at the bottom of your to-read list - The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
Mitch Albom's novels always make a bit of a splash when they release and The Time Keeper was no different; I've had it on my "to read" list since it released in 2012. I've read one other Albom book, The Five People You Meet In Heaven, and though it was enjoyable it wasn't my favourite, and thus my expectations for The Time Keeper were a bit low. However I needn't have worried as this one was quite good. The main character, Dor, is the inventor of the first clock, and for this measuring of time he is banished to a cave for thousands of years and is forced to become Father Time, hearing every time-related complaint from everywhere in the world. He is given the opportunity to redeem himself by helping two people realise the importance of the time given to them. It's a short book written in brief chapters making for a quick, entertaining read.
15. A book that was originally written in a different language - Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami 
Though I have of course heard of Murakami, Norwegian Wood was the first of his works I've read. Set against the backdrop of the 1960s student rebellions in Tokyo, Norwegian Wood tells of a student named Toru and his relationships with two girls, the depressed Naoko and the outgoing Midori. It's a beautifully written though sad novel, and it launched Murakami into popularity in Japan, supposedly to his utter dismay. If Norwegian Wood is any indicator of the rest of his work, I can now understand the hype surrounding his name.

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