Although this post is coming at a time that is embarrassingly late, I know that a lot of the followers on my old YouTube channel really miss the monthly wrap-up of books I have been reading. In conjunction with the monthly film posts, I thought I would do a monthly reading list with my personal review and feelings of everything I’ve read (university and otherwise) over the past month.
A little disclaimer: I am currently studying English Literature at University, so many of the books listed I have read for my studies. Also, the fact that I study literature does not, in any way, mean that my opinions are the be all end all (although, they are all my own).
Blood Wedding by Frederico Garcia Lorca (1933)
My Edition: Nick Hern Books, 2008
This play by Lorca is the ultimate presentation of symbolism and representation. This is a very Shakespearean play about forbidden lovers between a “bad boy” and a women about to be married, and the intricacies of family dynamics.
I personally really enjoyed the play itself, even if it was for my studies. Being a tragic play, the drama injected into every little aspect of this play kept me gripped until the very end. One of my favourite aspects of the play was the portrayal of death, as it is both humanised and represented through symbols such as water, a knife, and the colour white.
Madonna in the Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali (1943)
My Edition: Penguin Classics, 2016
I think Madonna may have been the first self-chosen fiction book I read this year? It’s definitely questionable, but either way it was such a wonderfully engrossing story to read. Going into the novel, I had no idea the history behind it an the shear impact it had already had on literary society. However, I was lucky enough to get this posted to me by Penguin Books and I devoured it while Lewis and I were on vacation in Lisbon.
The running narrative of the story is a story within a story – a man walks into his new job and meets Raif Bey, a man who, when he was young, came to berlin and fell in love with a woman he recognises from a most enchanting painting. His whole life become encompassed by this woman and she becomes the reason for living – until her unpredictable ways cause her to flee away.
I think one of the things that really caught me about the novel was the on-going style of the narrative and its story-telling aspect. The fact that it’s a story within a story makes the honesty of the narrator incredibly questionable. As a story is written by Raif, passed onto his co-worker, and then relayed to us, the reader, we are left wondering what has really happened and if this man’s experiences ever actually happened.
An incredible tale that i recommend to anyone looking for something to really dig into.
The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892)
My Edition: Penguin Little Black Classics, 2015
I had to read The Yellow Wall-paper for my class, but I was (luckily) already very familiar with the story. As on of my favourite pieces on feminism and the treatment of mental illness in women, being able to study this text was incredibly dreamy.
I had not fully realised, upon first reading, the little details that Gilman incorporates into her text that makes the reader unsure about where they stand with the narrator. Particularly with the contrast of dialogue and action, the narrator seems to know that she is going mad, and yet in her awareness she cannot recall the person who made the marks on the wall (or is it her…?).
If you haven’t read this short story before, I really urge you to do so. It is such an incredible piece of literature and really changed the face of both literary interpretation of woman and illness and the medical prescription methods at the time.
Crossing the Mangrove by Maryse Condé (1989)
My Edition: Anchor Books, 1995
Condé’s novel was full of unexpected twists and turns that made such an exciting reading experience for me. Mangrove is her commentary on community and the theme of “otherness”, but it interestingly plays with the genre of mystery fiction – similar to that of the classic mystery mastermind herself, Agatha Christie.
Each chapter is from a different point of view, making the experience garnered of this particular community somewhat fragmented and biased. As a reader, you are ganging information in bits and pieces from all different characters, usually within five to eight pages. This means that we never really get a rounded sense of any character.
The ending of the novel is something I was warned about, as it is highly controversial in style. Personally, although it was not at all what I expected, I still found it to be a well thought out ending (but I won’t be giving any details ;)).
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1899)
My Edition: Roads Classics, 2013
Oh my, where to start with this book. I have a feeling I might anger quite a few people by admitting that I absolutely hated Heart of Darkness. Before anyone tries to explain it to me, this was one of the novels I actually studied in depth and although I understand it symbolism, meaning, and commentary on race and politics – I still hated it.
Other than saying that it’s incredibly boring, it’s also amazingly forgettable? It was the first time I had read a text and as soon as closing the covers would instantly forget what I just read. Needless to say, not for me.
The Harz Journey by Heinrich Heine (1826)
My Edition: Penguin Classics, 2006
While I didm;t necessarily think that The Harz Journey, it was definitely a book tat was more interesting as I got to study it more. On the surface, it’s a somewhat short and nonsensical travel writing piece. However, as I got to study it I realised that the question of genre was the most compelling argument about the novel.
The question of genre comes in where the text diverts into fantasy-like observations by the narrator. Often he will reminisce over conversations had with comrade’s he meets along the way, and the way in which these encounters happen and the dialogue exchanged is what is particularly intriguing.
“The White Knight’s Song” by Lewis Carroll (1871, as apart of Through the Looking-Glass)
My Edition: As electronically given to me by my university.
The reason I won’t say too much about this text is not because I didn’t like it, but because I literally can’t. I enjoyed the part of Through the Looking-Glass so much that I decided to write an essay on it for my university.
What I will say is that this poem has an engrossing way of using nonsense to teach the reader about language and the psychological state of Victorian society. So good!
If you made it all the way through this post, thank you! I know I rand to run on in my blog posts (especially about books) but I truly appreciate that you take the time to read what I have to say.