Sunday, 14 January 2018

On the Road. Jack Kerouac | Book Review

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
(on Goodreads)
My rating ★★☆☆☆

This book is probably on every must-read and top-100 list I've ever come across. So I'm happy to finally have it behind it. At last, I know what's all the fuss about and have my own opinion about it.

On the Road is an autobiographical novel about Jack Kerouac's years traveling the North American continent with his friends. They have this fascination with going south and eventually reach their final destination somewhere in Mexico. This book is an ode to booze and jazz.

Good thing that we have audiobooks, because I don't think that I would have managed to finish this book weren't I listening to the audio version of it. It's not that it was bad, but I didn't really enjoy it. Most of the time I found myself bored and distracted. I guess I'm not a fan of the lifestyle described in this novel. I don't find drinking your life away all that exciting. While I was listening to the audiobook, I'd often think that a story of that sort can be interesting either to kids who are not yet allowed to run wild like that or to adults who have similar interests or lifestyle. I'm' not judging. All I'm saying that for me it was neither relatable nor interesting.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams | Book Review

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
(on Goodreads)
My rating ★★★★☆

It's only the second of January and I've already finished reading my first book of the year 2018. It was The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and it was actually the audiobook version. I've rediscovered audiobooks last year and I plan to listen to them a lot in 2018. Hopefully, this way I'll get a lot more books on my "read" shelf because I'm a slow reader. It may sometimes take me months to finish a book that I'm not particularly fond of and I don't really like dropping books or putting them on-hold (even though I regularly do so). But back to the topic! This audiobook was only four and a half hours long but it still took me the whole day to listen to it. Probably because I'm not that familiar with sci-fi so I had to take breaks and it took me a while to get into it. But by the end of the narration, I really enjoyed it.

The book starts with the main character Arthur Dent trying to prevent his house from being demolished to make way for a freeway. Then Arthur's friend Ford Prefect, who is an alien in disguise, turns up to tell him that in a matter of minutes a similar fate is awaiting the Earth. Ford manages to save Arthur and they go on a journey through space, meeting aliens and discovering planets. And on their way, they are consulting The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

I was surprised at how many quotes from the book I already knew, even though I never made an effort to find out anything about The Hitchhiker's Guide prior to reading/listening to it. I loved all the jokes and the philosophy in the book. I think, my favorite part was about the answer to the ultimate question of life. Particularly the idea that it's just as important to know the right question and not just the answer itself.

I think I'll re-read this book eventually, to catch all the details. And then I'll go on to reading the other books in the series.

Friday, 5 January 2018

A Quote by Franz Kafka

“It isn't necessary that you leave home. Sit at your desk and listen. Don't even listen, just wait. Don't wait, be still and alone. The whole world will offer itself to you.”

― Franz Kafka

Sunday, 31 December 2017

My Life in Books 2017

I saw this fun little game on Roof Beam Reader's blog and decided to give it a go. The rules are to answer the questions with the books you've read this year.
  • In high school I was: Anne of the Island (L.M. Montgomery)
  • People might be surprised (by): The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Washington Irving)
  • I will never be: The Inspector General (Nikolai Gogol)
  • My fantasy job is: Doctor Dolittle (Hugh Lofting)
  • At the end of a long day I need: A Simple Heart (Gustave Flaubert)
  • I hate it when (you): Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (David Sedaris)
  • Wish I had: The Queen of Spades (Alexander Pushkin)
  • My family reunions are: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Alexandr Solzhenitsyn)
  • At a party you’d find me with: The Invisible Man (H.G. Wells)
  • I’ve never been to: The House on Mango Street (Sandra Cisneros)
  • A happy day includes: Wonder (R.J. Palacio)
  • Motto I live by: The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde)
  • On my bucket list is: Around the World in Eighty Days (Jules Verne)
  • In my next life, I want to have: War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
So that's what my life looks like in books.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Favorite Books of 2017. Part 2

Here is the second part of my Favorite Books of 2017. You can read the first part here.

The Road Goes into the Distance Trilogy by Alexandra Bruschtein

My rating ★★★★

This autobiographical novel is about Russia just at the rising of the communist revolution. If you don't mind the pro-communism anti-capitalism propaganda, it's a nice children's story about friendship and family, honor and responsibility. It's told from the point of view of little Sasha as she grows up, goes to school and meets new friends.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

My rating ★★★★

Just as the title suggests, this story is one day in the life of a labor camp prisoner Ivan Denisovich. Solzhenitsyn's style makes it very easy to read which may result in a cognitive dissonance because the themes of the book aren't that easy to swallow. The worries of labor camp inhabitants may seem simple, even primitive, but behind them, there's the tragedy of a human being that isn't even living but barely surviving.

Do You Want Me to Be Your Mother? by Olesya Likhunova

My rating ★★★★

This book is a diary where Olesya Likhunova writes about her experiences of adopting five children and being a mother of 7 (as of now 8) kids. It's very insightful. Olesya writes a lot about children's psychology and how children who grow up in the system are different from children who have a stable family right from birth. I really hope that one day this book will be translated into English because it's a must-read.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

My rating ★★★★

This is a collection of vignettes about the author's childhood years from the moment when she and her family moved to a house on Mango Street. It was a quick read but very enjoyable.

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

My rating ★★★★

(on Goodreads)

I love Murakami. In fact, I'm listening to one of his audiobooks right now. His style is simple and engaging. The more of his books I read the more familiar I am with his characters. It's as if I'm visiting old friends.

This book is yet another love story. The narrator tells us about the love life of the girl he himself is in love with. There's even a mystery, and some magical realism is intertwined in the later chapters. And as always, the title of the book has a special symbolism what is mentioned all throughout the book. I've heard that Sputnik Sweetheart is usually recommended for those who are new to Murakami. I think I rather agree with this statement although my first Murakami was Norwegian Wood of which I still have very fond memories.