Even though I am still in the midst of revision for exams, the fact that I have no classes has meant that I have been reading, reading, reading! I started off the month craving some fantasy, and finally decided to take on a tomb of book I have been wanting to re-read for ages. Even though the mount of books I’ve read this month doesn’t amount to much, I am so happy to finally feel like I’m getting my literary muscle flexed again.
Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
My Edition: Harper Voyager, 2015
My first read of the month was actually a re-read for me. The first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series was something that I read towards the end of high school, and then never followed through the rest of the series – regretfully – because I moved around so much and was working full-time. However, this is something I intend to rectify now, and as I was craving something a little fantastical, this month was the perfect time to do it.
Game of Thrones is such an interesting book because of its complexity. Martin keeps an interesting space between his characters and the reader, and we enter their stories and their thoughts chapter by chapter, constantly changing perspective. In doing this, we are given fragmented visions of who these people are, both allowing us to literally get inside their heads, but only long enough to know what they feel at that moment.
I like this book because of so many reasons, but not the least because while we can be in each characters shoes, we are also, as readers, like this omniscient observer, watching with a bird’s (three) eye view.
Shades of Blue edited by Amy Ferris
My Edition: Seal Press, 2015
**TRIGGER WARNING FOR ALL SELF HARM**
I’m going to tread carefully with my thoughts on this book, because whether they are good or bad, ultimately this is a collection of essays about personal experiences with some of the most sensitive subjects: depression, suicide, eating disorders, etc.
For me, this book was a bit troubling. As someone who has experience with so many of these issues, I found the collection to be sad on a more personal level and a bit redundant.
Each carefully written essay is a real life depiction of what it is like to live with depression or with someone who has depression. It is dark, tearful, but ultimately, sometimes uplifting.
I think this is a good read if you are someone who is not familiar with depression and/or all forms of self-harm. It is informative and terrifyingly realistic.
Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
My Edition: Penguin Modern Classics, 2013
I have to be honest, I picked up Bonjour Tristesse purely because of the hype. Not necessarily among the bookish community, but certainly within the blogosphere. There are so many bloggers I follow that absolutely love this book and would even go so far as to say it’s their favourite. Naturally, I was intrigued.
To be clear, my edition was the new one released by Penguin a few years ago that had an added sex scene (for lack of a better term) and also included the story A Certain Smile. And surprisingly, I enjoyed the second story far more.
Bonjour Tristesse is about a young French girl and her relationships with the people around – particularly her father and his to-be wife. It is often a story described as book that is both vulgar and sad as it navigates through themes of identity and choosing your path as you grow into adulthood.
Part of the books success had to do with the author’s age, as she was just nineteen when the novel was published. It was, for its time, highly sexual and often caused ripples in literary and French society. As a reader of today, though, Bonjour Tristesse seemed more like a chronology of a daughters crisis with losing her youth and, sometimes, her fathers love for multiple women.
While I really enjoyed the book, it wasn’t something that I would claim as being a new favourite. I enjoyed the narrator’s voice, regardless of her occasional naive thought process, and thought that overall, the book was highly entertaining. However, personally, it lacked that spark. At no point in the novella did I really feel like I connected with Cécil, and actually found her to be far too idealistic of the “perfectly” complicated French woman.
However, I had a totally different response to A Certain Smile.
I still couldn’t relate to the protagonist, Dominique, as her situation was far out of anything I have experienced. That being said, the pure drama and very complex love stories were both intriguing and exciting.
A Certain Smile is about Dominique, who, through her partner Bertrand, meets his business-man uncle, Luc. Luc is older, a proper French man, and married – but that doesn’t stop the young woman and him from falling in love and going through with an affair. Although Luc has made it clear to Dominique that he will not be leaving his wife, as the affair goes on longer she cannot imagine the two of them ever being without each other. This is where all the tangles of human emotions begin.
It’s the complete disconnect with emotions that really got me with this story. At some point, I believe most of us have felt that utter despair with love – be it romantic, friendship, family, or otherwise. It’s the most violent internal pain that anyone can experience, and Dominique in A Certain Smile becomes this vessel for an emotion so difficult to put into words. Simply wonderful.
Due to the time of year (and GoT) I only finished three books this month – but really, that’s fine by me. I have been so happy to be able to read my own books at all lately that I’ll pretty much take whatever I can get!
What did you guys read in April? Any new favourites?
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