Reading and books update: August 2016

I’ve been doing some more reading in the past couple of weeks. I figured that I was behind on my Goodreads schedule and I was spending too much time watching Netflix (Misfits, Stranger Things, amongst others) without feeling very happy about it. Even the latter episodes of Game of Thrones failed to excite me much anymore this year – I just really wanted to see how Bran dealt with Hodor’s death and it wasn’t shown and that bugged me perhaps more than it should.

I also made the classic mistake of heading into Waterstones three Saturdays in a row this month. I don’t know what it is with book stores, but they seem to temporarily disable my otherwise over-active saving tendencies. There was also a buy 2 get the second one for half price deals and who can resist that when they are already inside a book store?

So which books did I buy?

  • All four of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels because I kept on hearing so many good things about them. I have since read the first one, My Brilliant Friend, and to my great joy I can really recommend it. I bought the first two first to see how I’d like them, and of course I went back a week later on Waterstones trip #3 to buy the third and fourth one.
  • Andrea Wulf’s The Invention of Nature because I spent some time at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and I thought it’d be good to know a little more about the guy the uni is named after.
  • David Bellos’ Is That a Fish in Your Ear? because as a polyglot languages fascinate me and I have to read some translations because I don’t speak Russian but enjoy Russian novels. Same with the classics. My Latin education really wasn’t enough to make me fluent (hardly anyone is – I remember quite vividly when petere suddenly went from asking to attacking someone if only if was flanked by a word such as spear or sword or when there were at least 50 other translation possibilities for the word in my Latin dictionary – good times) and my Greek skills have always been deplorable (the aorist’s existence thoroughly confused me and what I remember from Ancient Greek is that there were more exceptions than rules – apparently it got easier as you advanced).
  • Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman and Motl the Cantor’s Son because I have no idea what life in the shtetlekh was like and I cannot seem to get Tradition from Fiddler on the Roof out of my mind.
  • Some other novels: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (I liked the movie, so the book is probably even better), The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion (apparently the second one, but who cares, I own this one now so I’ll read this one first), Jonathan Coe’s Number 11 (because of its cover, mostly), Edith Wharton’s The Children (never heard of it before).

Other reading updates: I finished, in addition to My Brilliant Friend, Malcolm X’s autobiography this month. I’m now busy making notes of the latter, because it contains a lot of wisdom. My main problems with the book were actually with his non-feminist statements: he very much believed in a traditional role-division where women stayed home and nursed their children, not nagging after their husbands came home after “working like a dog, looking for some food”. Whilst I think becoming a homemaker is a fine decision, it should indeed be a decision, not imposed as a necessity. Times have changed for women, yes, but some of the content of the book today is as true as it was in the 1960s. Progress is a slow movement sometimes.


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