Yes, so shameful that I can add pretty much all the books I’ve read this year in a single post. I pretty much started reading around September, on my flight to Lisbon. I used to read a lot on the train from London to Bristol (1h45 perfect for reading), but this year I’ve spend most of the journeys working on the train, or so tired I couldn’t read more than 2 pages. Hopefully I can go back to reading next year. Last night I’ve ended up reading until 01h00. When was the last time I had done that? Can’t really recall.
Note: Click on the titles to check the book on amazon.co.uk
1 – The Last Telegram (Liz Trenow)
The war changed everything for Lily Verner.
As the Nazis storm Europe, Lily becomes an apprentice at her family’s silk weaving factory. When they start to weave parachute silk there is no margin for error: one tiny fault could result in certain death for Allied soldiers.
The war also brings Stefan to Lily: a German Jewish refugee who works on the looms. As their love grows, there are suspicions someone is tampering with the silk.
Can their love survive the hardships of war? And will the Verner’s silk stand the ultimate test?
The Last Telegram is an evocative and engaging novel for fans of The Postmistress and Pam Jenoff.
I’ve read this one at the beginning of the year, so I don’t remember much of the story anymore, except that I remember enjoying it and I do remember the details from the silk factory. Really interesting read.
2 – The White Castle (Orhan Pamuk)
In the seventeenth century, a young Italian scholar sailing from Venice to Naples is taken prisoner and delivered to Constantinople, into the custody of a scholar known as Hoja—‘master’—a man who is his exact double. Hoja wonders, given the knowledge of each other’s most intimate secrets, if they could actually exchange identities.
Set in a world of magnificent scholarship and terrifying savagery, The White Castle is a colourful and intricately patterned triumph of the imagination.
Another one I’ve read at the beginning of the year but I don’t remember much except that I couldn’t stop flipping the pages and wanted to know more. Brilliant descriptions as well. If you want a book to disconnect from the world, this is it.
3 – The luminaries (Eleanor Catton)
It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky.
The Luminaries is an extraordinary piece of fiction. It is full of narrative, linguistic and psychological pleasures, and has a fiendishly clever and original structuring device. Written in pitch-perfect historical register, richly evoking a mid-19th century world of shipping and banking and goldrush boom and bust, it is also a ghost story, and a gripping mystery. It is a thrilling achievement and will confirm for critics and readers that Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international writing firmament.
I have to admit I don’t remember ever reading a book about the goldrush in the 19th century. I had seen good reviews about this book saying it was quite unique and an amazing story. Well, I couldn’t finish it. I’ve read half of it but simply couldn’t connect with any of the characters and I’ve reach the point where I didn’t care about the story any more. Maybe it’s a brilliant story, written in a fabulous way but it’s not my cup of tea. I struggle to put a book down, I always try to keep on moving, but I’ve ended up not reading for months until I’ve decided to ignore it and read something else instead.
4 – Inferno (Dan Brown)
Florence: Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon awakes in a hospital bed with no recollection of where he is or how he got there. Nor can he explain the origin of the macabre object that is found hidden in his belongings.
A threat to his life will propel him and a young doctor, Sienna Brooks, into a breakneck chase across the city. Only Langdon’s knowledge of the hidden passageways and ancient secrets that lie behind its historic facade can save them from the clutches of their unknown pursuers.
With only a few lines from Dante’s Inferno to guide them, they must decipher a sequence of codes buried deep within some of the Renaissance’s most celebrated artworks to find the answers to a puzzle which may, or may not, help them save the world from a terrifying threat…
Ah, finally back to the joys of reading. I know a lot of people don’t like Dan Brown’s books because they feel too commercial. And they are, they are really easy to read and once you’ve read the Da Vinci Code, you’ll notice a pattern, not just because the main character Robert Langdon is always there but because the same path tends to be followed. There is always a girl that becomes important to the story, a bit like there’s always a Bond Girl in James Bond’s movies. There’s always bag guys trying to chase him and there’s always something where the world seems at risk. I wasn’t expecting this plot this time. It’s about over-population and the fact that we’ve reached the maximum capacity for the planet. This was a story that made me think about it and want to travel to Florence and Istanbul right now (both were already on my wishlist anyway). He always adds a lot of descriptions around the city which makes the book in my view more interesting. Loved the way the plot was guided through Dante’s Divine Comedy. So in the end really easy to read and will make you know the end of the book.
5 – I am Malala (Malala Yousafzai)
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, one girl fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, 9 October 2012, she almost paid the ultimate price when she was shot in the head at point-blank range.
Malala Yousafzai’s extraordinary journey has taken her from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations. She has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and is the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.
This is a book everyone should read and I really mean it. Everyone knows the story of Malala and how, because she was standing up for girls education, she was shot by the Taliban but she survived to tell the story. I wanted to know more from her perspective. We are lucky were we are born, in terms of the country and the family too. Fortunately she had a family that always stand by her and helped her be the person she is today. We take a lot of things for granted such as safety, family and education. This isn’t the case everywhere in the world. There are a lot of cultures still that see women as inferior beings and it’s not easy to fight against that. (This is why I get so cross about modern feminism this days, because they don’t have a clue and don’t even care about the real struggles. But that’s a different story altogether) This world needs more Malala’s.
6 – World War Z (Max Brooks)
It began with rumours from China about another pandemic. Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginnings of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse. Faced with a future of mindless, man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality.
I know there is a movie inspired in this book, but it seems it lost the same storytelling and journey through time as the book. It’s not my type of book, but since he has read it twice and convinced me I would enjoy it. I’ve started to read and really enjoyed the fact it was all interview based to make it more real. It’s like connecting mini stories to show the timeline of the plot. Really clever! And makes it really easy to read as you also see different perspectives of the same subject.
7 – The Storyteller (Jodi Picoult)
For seventy years, Josef Weber has been hiding in plain sight.
He is a pillar of his local community. He is also a murderer.
When Josef decides to confess, it is to Sage Singer, a young woman who trusts him as her friend. What she hears shatters everything she thought she knew and believed.
As Sage uncovers the truth from the darkest horrors of war, she must follow a twisting trail between terror and mercy, betrayal and forgiveness, love – and revenge.
This was the book I’ve just finished and what a book! Again a topic I end up reading a lot, WWII. It’s easy to see that Jodi did a lot of research for this book and as she starts to say, she choose a small group of characters to tell the story of many. I loved the fact that it tells the story of both sides, from a German point of view (through Reiner and Franz) and through different generations of bakers. I just wanted to find the next bakery and marvel with the smell. There’s a lot of bread descriptions in the book which I loved! Also, quite interesting is the story of a story written by Minka (Sage’s grandmother and a WWII survivor) and how that dark story helped her own survival. I just wanted to know more, about Sage, mostly about Minka and Franz and Reiner. I liked the little plot twist in the end. Also the book makes you think that there isn’t just black and white, that sometimes there’s a lot of grey as well and at some point we all have a choice to reinvent ourselves.
So half of the books I’ve read last year, but managed to recover in the end a little bit. What was the most interesting book you’ve read recently and why?