Saturday, 3 March 2018

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne | Book Review

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
(on Goodreads)
My rating ★★★☆☆

I finished listening to this audiobook a month ago but couldn't gather my thoughts to write a review until now. I'm not sure what to write about. Except for a general opinion, because I feel like I've slept through half of the narration. I don't know if it's because of the style of the book or was it something about the recording I was listening to.

I think everybody knows the plot of this book. Hester Prynne has a child out of wedlock and has to wear a scarlet letter A on her chest which stands for "adultery". And so she lives her life, shunned by the society. I remember hearing somewhere that Hester is supposed to struggle with the stigma and die at the end, and that her daughter is persecuted after her death or something sad like that happens. But I don't remember any of that in the actual audiobook that I listened to, and a quick glance at SparkNotes also tells me that that's not how the book ends.

I got an impression that Hester's punishment wasn't as severe, and that townspeople grew to respect her in some ways, despite the fact that she did something sinful and very shameful. She was skilled in embroidery and also did a lot of charity work. And she took good care of her daughter.

There aren't that many events described in the book, even though the story goes on for many years. Pearls character seemed too adult for her age. At times I felt as if she's just used to deliver clever metaphors. The language of the book is very figurative. There's quite a lot of symbolism. I guess that's why this novel is taught in schools.

To sum up my review, it was okay. I loved some metaphors. But maybe I'll have to re-read it sometime in the future to get a better grasp on this story.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Quotes | War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Today I wanted to share with you this quote from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. 
"Doctors came to see her singly and in consultation, talked much in French, German, and Latin, blamed one another, and prescribed a great variety of medicines for all the diseases known to them, but the simple idea never occurred to any of them that they could not know the disease Natásha was suffering from, as no disease suffered by a live man can be known, for every living person has his own peculiarities and always has his own peculiar, personal, novel, complicated disease, unknown to medicine—not a disease of the lungs, liver, skin, heart, nerves, and so on mentioned in medical books, but a disease consisting of one of the innumerable combinations of the maladies of those organs. This simple thought could not occur to the doctors (as it cannot occur to a wizard that he is unable to work his charms) because the business of their lives was to cure, and they received money for it and had spent the best years of their lives on that business. But, above all, that thought was kept out of their minds by the fact that they saw they were really useful, as in fact they were to the whole Rostóv family. Their usefulness did not depend on making the patient swallow substances for the most part harmful (the harm was scarcely perceptible, as they were given in small doses), but they were useful, necessary, and indispensable because they satisfied a mental need of the invalid and of those who loved her—and that is why there are, and always will be, pseudo-healers, wise women, homeopaths, and allopaths. They satisfied that eternal human need for hope of relief, for sympathy, and that something should be done, which is felt by those who are suffering. They satisfied the need seen in its most elementary form in a child, when it wants to have a place rubbed that has been hurt."
I love watching pseudo-science debunking youtube channels, so this quote from War and Peace really caught my attention. It also makes me think about mental health and how we're handling it nowadays.

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