I read more than I have in such a long time this month. I no longer had an overwhelming number of books to read for uni, which meant I spent many hours before bed reading books of my choice. Amazing.
I finished reading two books for my Australian literature class at university, and both were pretty strange and earned 3 of 5 stars from me. The Aunt’s Story (Patrick White) tells the bizarre story of Theodora Goodman, from memories of her childhood home to travelling to France as a middle-aged woman. To be honest, I have no idea what the heck was going on; I think Theodora goes mad by the end of the story, though the way it was written it felt like she was mad from the start. The other, All the Birds, Singing (Evie Wyld), was also strange but much easier to digest. The story made more sense to me, though it too took an odd turn as the past collided with the present and you begin to wonder how stable the protagonist is.
Two classics I read were Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov) and The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton). Lolita was the most disturbing book I have ever read. One of the most beautifully written, but I couldn’t bring myself to give it more than 3 stars due to the content matter. Really disgusting. The Outsiders, however, I gave 5 of 5 stars. It was a small, enjoyable book that I’m glad I’ve read.
The History of Love (Nicole Krauss), Essays in Love (Alain de Botton), Light of the World (Elizabeth Alexander), and Crush (Richard Siken) I all gave 4 of 5 stars. And though they are a variety of books, I categorise them together in my mind. The History of Love is a novel in which a little girl tries to find the author of a book, believing it will cure her mum’s loneliness. The novel switches between the little girl, Alma, and the author, who is an elderly man named Leo Gursky. What I loved about this book is it tells so many different stories, and they all weave together and there are so many questions but they all miraculously get answered by the last page. This book had twists and turns and was so uniquely written. Definitely one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read. Essays in Love is a mix of autobiography and essay, so each chapter tells stories of Alain de Botton’s relationship with a woman named Chloe, then dissects love in philosophical terms. Very interesting stuff.
Light of the World is an autobiography that Elizabeth Alexander wrote after the sudden death of her husband. It tells stories of their life together, and the life she has once he has gone. I didn’t enjoy this as much as I wanted to, but it definitely had some gems in it. And Crush is a fast-paced, frantic collection of poetry that describes love and romance in disastrous terminology.
I gave two books 5 stars; Dear Mrs. Bird (A.J. Pearce) and Letters to a Young Poet (Rainer Maria Rilke). The former is a recent novel which tells the tale of Emmy, who writes for an advice column during the war in 1941. This story was incredibly heart-warming as well as showing the serious side of war and the tragedy that went with it. The latter was a small book comprised of letters from Rainer Maria Rilke to Franz Xaver Kappus. He gives succinct advice about how to become a better writer, but I found his advice also able to be applied to everyday life. 100% worth a read.
And finally, I read Crescendo (Allen Cheney and Julie Cantrell), which I gave 4 of 5 stars. It tells the true story of Fred Allen, a musical genius, as he grows up in a poor, dysfunctional family before finding success in both his career and personal life. This was an interesting read; it really goes to show how God can turn someone’s life around and take them where they didn’t think they could go.
Thanks for sticking around to hear about the eleven bad boys I read this month.