Five Book Tags

I’ve decided to create five categories for which to assign a book to. I stole these at random, and didn’t have any particular in books in mind when I began (/writing this). I’m going through a time of looking into books I wouldn’t otherwise consider, and think it would be interesting for others to use these tags in order to get an idea of what other people are into. Please comment a link to your blog should you do so!

A book you judged by the cover and was right

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The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman – Denis Theriault

It was autumn, I was looking for a short book, I stumbled across this. The only branch of a cherry blossom with its leaves falling to the ground made me think the book was going to be somewhat peaceful, and the the title made me wonder how this would be combined with that impression. This is a great little book and one I recommend to just about everyone at some point.

 

A book you shouldn’t judge by the cover

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The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R. Carey

I feel that this cover is very simplistic, and the alternative ‘movie cover’ is even worse. I bought this on release and it is bar far the best ‘zombie book’ I’ve read. Most cliches were avoided, and the writing was actually quite good. It avoided a lot predictable plot points, and some parts were genuinely frightening.

 

A book you tried and disliked

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The Black Eyed Blonde – Benjamin Black

I hadn’t read much within the crime genre and so picked one at random. At first I thought the cliches (dusty telephone that hadn’t rang in weeks, long-legged blonde walking into the office, smoking and whiskey addiction) were ironic and funny, but it soon became evident they weren’t meant to be ironic. I felt the main character was just observing the events the whole time, and didn’t actually forward the plot himself. Maybe another crime book in the future.

 

A book that you didn’t finish

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Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

I just couldn’t get gripped by the story. I understand the premise etc., but I just found it wasn’t written well. I felt that the same few phrases were being used over and over to the point where I was no longer interested when the narrator ‘was reminded about the time when…”, so I put it down and started another book.

 

A book you’ve been meaning to read for some time

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The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoevsky

I’ve liked everything I’ve read so far by Dostoevsky, and a few of his books make it into my favourites pile, but I’ve never read The Idiot. It’s not too long compared to some books, and premised is quite interesting: an impoverished noble returning from an asylum, regarded as an idiot due to his natural goodness they perceive as naivety. I own the edition in the picture too… one day I’ll read it.

 

 

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Netochka Nezvanova – Fyodor Dostoevsky (Book Review)

 

Netochka Nezanova was the first attempt of Dostoevsky’s to write a novel. It is also, unfortunately, unfinished.

Netochka is a young girl who grows up in extreme poverty, living with a cold and severe mother, and a step-father who is a failed musician, trying to gain a position he feels he deserves, though falling into alcoholism and debt by failure to do so.

She is adopted later by a wealthy family, though struggles to find her place in the new environment.Becoming friends with their daughter, they are eventually separated.

I really enjoyed the book, and was saddened when finishing it, incomplete as it is. Though it initially took some persistence, once the main characters were introduced, they were developed uniquely and in-depth very quickly. Dostoevsky seems to have an ability to create amazing characters, and force you to feel a certain way about them.

 

The fact that this is his first novel, to find such talent as available in the incomplete book is something to be mentioned, and envied.

Unfinished books are somewhat sad thing, which leaves the mind wondering what could have been should the author have completed it if they weren’t interrupted by circumstance or death…

The Tale of the Wish Fish

As I walked one sunny day
Beside the river, by the way
Mine eyes did catch upon a shimmer:
A sparkling 50 pence in the river

So in I waded to the middle
Though why I did presents a riddle
For I should remember I cannot swim
And so began to sink within

But along you came by the river walking
Becoming alerted to my squawking
The seconds to react barely counted three
You threw the nearby lifebuoy to me

I caught hold and slipped inside
Feeling some damage to my pride
For your reward I reached once stabled
And caught the gold creature believed to be fabled

“Now take hold of mine Wish Fish
And make thou thy Wish”

[A silly poetic version of a story I decided was true when walking one evening with my girlfriend].

The Reader on the 6.27 – Jean-Paul Didierlaurent (Book Review)

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This book is fairly popular at the moment, and I have even heard in anecdotal exchanges that some adults are almost in tears at the impact this book has had on their life.

Guylain, an employee at a book-pulping factory rides the 6.27 train every morning, reading aloud to the other passengers pages from random books that he had pulled out of the pulping machine the day before.

Living a pained existence in a job he hates, feeling like a murder, his best friends are an elderly man who speaks in alexandrines, a disabled ex-colleague obsessed with finding his legs, and his goldfish (replaced when necessary).

Until he finds the diary of a young lady who cleans public toilets for living, and immediately falls in love with this stranger he has yet to meet.

The book itself is perhaps something I wouldn’t usually go for: the feel-good, romantic theme being something which I’d consider often predictable, often repeated, and often unsatisfying. I wouldn’t necessarily say that for this book: it is quite a unique romance in a sense. The girl seems like a very unique character, and was in someways my favourite in the book for her outlook on life.

Though the book was sometimes funny, an easy read, and not at all boring: I still found that I was dissatisfied upon completion: I found Guylain’s idol somewhat annoying and couldn’t quite see his fascination with him. I also found the romance ultimately open-ended with a somewhat ambiguous ending. I guess in someways the couple were both individually quirky, but it seems a bit of a mismatch to me: Guylain always came across a bit too passive.

Not a terrible book by any means, and could easily be read in a matter of a few sittings. Perhaps it’s the ‘feel-good’ factor that will draw many towards it, and it is likely just not my cup-of-tea. Worth a shot if it sounds like your thing, though!

Nod – Adrian Barnes (Book Review)

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I’ve never read much sci-fi, or horror, though I often think I should. I think often the problem is that with so many series to choose from, and seemingly many by self-published authors, its quite hard to know where to begin. There is probably some gold out there in the hills of lengthy novels, but finding it is a difficult commitment to make.

That being said, when this book was suggested as an option at the book club I attend, I found the premise interesting enough to give it a go.

The premise is fairly simple:

Paul, a writer, awakes one morning to his partner, Tanya, complaining of getting no sleep the night before. Paul himself also mentions his bizarre ‘golden’ dream, but nothing is made of it and they continue with their days. Until Tanya returns from work with the news that, apart from maybe 1 in 10,000, nobody slept the previous night. And nobody can sleep still.

So with a population of growingly sleep-deprived people, the apocalypse facing humanity seems to begin, with the Sleepers being the targets of envious rage, and the target of hunting in order to, somehow, discover a way to sleep.

As Paul watches his wife slowly sink into a hallucinatory reality, he travels across Vancouver in search of safety from the Awakened.

As far as post-apocalyptic settings go, this is a fairly unique one: the problem facing humanity is something as simple as no longer being able to sleep. The effects of sleep-deprivation in reality are quite serious, with hallucinations setting in after a few days, bursts of psychosis further on, and eventually, death. All of which feature in the book as the days pass by, many aware of the inevitable end if they can’t get some sleep.

The writing style in this book has in it a hint of dark comedy which I appreciate: comedic writing that somehow paradoxically is somewhat funny, without making light of the subject. A great example of this is a throw away comment in the book about a horrible husband who communicates with his wife through ‘morse code’: a series of slaps and silences (paraphrasing). It’s clever comments like this which ran throughout which made me appreciate the writing style. The ending too, being fairly unique, yet seemed to fit well with Paul’s tone throughout.

That being said, I did think that the ‘outbreak’ of insomnia was in many ways more believable and tense than the time a week or so later.

I disturbingly found Paul a very likable character, despite his fairly obvious hatred for humanity, and perhaps this was reliant on his humour and narrative style.

Overall, I gave the book a arbitrary 4/5 on Goodreads, but in reality it’s hard to judge. I liked it, but would have liked the concept of a sleep-deprived apocalypse to take on a broader setting than seemingly a few blocks which was focused on in the story.

I like sleep, and sleep-deprivation, though seemingly common to me, is a pain. I would hate to not be able to sleep but still feel the effects of tiredness. I work nights and so tiredness is already fairly hard to keep on top of, nevermind it accumulating.

Perhaps though, watching those you love fall into a hallucinatory reality whilst you remain the the typical one would be difficult too, and their lack of care of no sleep (much unlike my whining about it), and lack of care for the anarchy around them, perhaps a sort of ignorant bliss to be envious of in such a setting…