Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer (What Summer?) Reading (A Bookpile Post)

The weather is killing me.

Summer? Seriously?


It's supposed to be summer, but you can see on the picture what it looks like these days. I can't properly wake up, my mind refuses to work, and on Twitter I read that my friends are experiencing similar problems, taking four hours just to wake up and then forgetting stuff at home, saying "Hi" to everyone and then going for a nap at 3 in the afternoon, and we're talking about young, healthy people here.

So, what I do mostly is read. Some time ago i went to the library again, and took seven books. The librarian was new, and didn't ask me whether I'd be able to read it; she seemed not to care one way or the other.

My new bookpile


The books in the pile, from the top to the bottom, are: Hunger by Knut Hamsun, Surfacing by Margaret Atwood, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Castle by Franz Kafka, A Philosophy of Boredom by Lars Fr. H. Svendsen, Muleum by Erlend Loe, and Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson. Hamsun, Svendsen, Loe and Petterson are Scandinavian authors, Kafka is German, Atwood is Canadian, and Adichie African. A wide variety, and so far a good pile of books.

The first one I read from the pile was Hunger, about a talented, but still unrecognized writer. Wait now, where have I seen that one before? Fante and Bukowski come to mind, but, while their protagonists were drinking and doing dumb things, the protagonist of Hunger is starving. Not being really hungry and managing to find something to eat, even if it's same old, same old; no, not eating for days, so he gets thinner and thinner, his hair falls off, he really, truly looks like a ruin. A very well written novel.

Then there was Out Stealing Horses, an old man coming to live in a distant part of Norway, wishing to be alone, to escape... Well, to escape himself, mostly. And there he remembers the summer when he was fifteen, had a friend he used to steal horses with (the "theft" was actually getting on neighbor's horses, riding them while imagining they were in the Wild West, and sending them back to the owner). As the novel progresses, the things become more serious. Something horrible, unforgivable happened to the friend right before they went to the horse theft. And "stealing horses" was a phrase used before, by the protagonist's father, during the resistance to the Nazis. And the protagonist's father and the friend's mother have a sort of a history together (no, not some cheap affair). And the protagonist, in his old days, meets someone he never expected nor wanted to meet again, and discovers it's actually a good thing.

With all this said, this short novel is quite easy to read, and gets you in its world pretty quickly.

After that, there was Muleum by Erlend Loe. The main character is 18-year-old Juliet from Norway who lost her entire family when a plane crashed. While she doesn't have to fight for physical existence - her family was rich, and she has lots of money - she has to find a reason to keep living, and she fails to do it. Juliet tries to kill herself, then travels the world, stays at the airports, hopes that the next plane she gets on will crash (and feels guilty because of all the other people who would die too), meets a Korean athletic star she likes... Although the subject is difficult, there's humor in the novel too, and there's some strength in this young woman as she seeks some sense after the family to whom the word "muleum" meant something is gone (one of the first words little Juliet spoke was "muleum", it was supposed to be "museum", but ever since then her family kept saying "muleum", it was like their family word). While what happened to Juliet is tragic, there's nothing pathetic in this novel, and it's quite an enjoyable read.

Then there was A Philosophy of Boredom. Svendsen writes in a clear, understandable style - you don't have to be a Philosophy major in order to understand his books. In this book, he explores the history of boredom (boredom as we know it today seems to be somewhat new), gives some examples in great literature about the consequences of boredom brought to the extreme, and, while he doesn't give an answer to the problem of boredom, he does give some suggestions.

Right now, I'm reading Surfacing. I'm still at the beginning, so all I can tell you is that it is about a woman who comes to Quebec to look for her father who just disappeared; she comes to an extremely, err, old-fashioned community (for example, a divorce is unimaginable there) she ran away from when she was younger, and isn't happy about it, but hey, her father disappeared, and she wants to know what happened.

Well, that would be it for now. And, for the end, and completely unrelated, here's a cat picture, because every blog needs one.

Every blog needs a cat picture.

6 comments:

Kelly Hashway said...

It's finally looking like summer here. I've taken some nice summery pictures of blue sky and puffy white clouds. I'd love to know how you manage to keep a nice TBR pile. Mine is a crazy overflowing mess.

angel011 said...

Well, it's just seven books from the library. I never mentioned books all over the house (the ones I own and intend to read someday), or all the books on my computer which I also intend to read someday (then again, those on the computer can't really look messy). Oh, and there are also books I intend to read but don't currently own them and the libraries don't have them either, which doesn't stop me from wanting to read them. :)

The short short version is, I arranged a small pile in order to take a neat picture of it. :)

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

After reading your comment about the books around your house, I'm very curious to see the rest of your book collection! I'm sure it's amazing :)

angel011 said...

Not that amazing, compared to some people I know... If I had kept all the books I've got by now, we would have probably fallen through the floor. :) So, when I read them, I give some of them away, to friends, to my parents, to my brother... That way I also make room for new books. And my father makes new shelves for the books I bring to him and my brother. :D

Bella said...

Your love of reading is enviable! Kafka, seriously one of my favorites! I went to the library today and emerged with all of two books. I hope the heat will allow me to read and not induce me to want to nap all day long. I'm feeling so lethargic! And yes, every blog needs a cat or dog photo! :)

angel011 said...

I hope you manage to read something; then again, if not, I hope you enjoy your naps. Naps are good! :)