Reading Diary

 

When I occasionally read Young Adult fiction, I stick with fantasy or LBGTQ+. I read one of each last month. Unfortunately there is a lot of dross in YA so I try and be picky. One thing I’ll say about the genre though, is that the books are well paced and usually fun to read. They can be a good choice if you’re in a reading slump.

 

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Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I really loved the main character of the first instalment of this YA fantasy duology. Lazlo Strange is a librarian who spends all his spare time researching the lost city of Weep. He’s a dreamer with a big heart and we follow him as his life takes a huge twist. It’s a well written tale with fantastic characters, great world-building and a well-paced plot. Looking forward to the release of The Muse of Nightmares in October. 4/5

 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

I felt like I was cheating a bit by reading a children’s book for my monthly classic. Even though I already knew the story, it was lovely to read it for myself and enjoy the little details, such as how Lucy loves the smell and feel of fur; rubbing her face in it when alone in the wardrobe. The concept is as good as it gets and beautifully realised. 5/5

 

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The Name of the Rose by Emberto Eco

I put this down after only about 60 pages. The writing was so dense I couldn’t get into the flow.  This book is extremely highly rated so clearly the issue is with me. If you think I should persevere please let me know in the comments.  I did like the idea of a Medieval murder mystery set in a monastery.

 

The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy 2) by Katherine Arden

I loved the immersive, magical experience of The Bear and the Nightingale and was happy to find that atmosphere continued in the second instalment of the trilogy. The focus of the story moves from the Russian wilderness to the city, but continues to revolve around Vasya, who has been branded a witch by her village. I had loved the rural setting of the first book but there is still a fair amount of that to start with and I was intrigued to read about Medieval Moscow. My only mild criticism of the first instalment was that it was rather slow paced. The Girl in the Tower moves along nicely and the last fifth or so is positively action packed. I’m not quite sure how I will wait until January 2019 for the final part of the story but I’ve already got it on pre-order. 5/5

 

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Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

This YA book has been recently turned into a film re-named Love, Simon. The story follows a 17 year-old boy in Georgia who hasn’t told anyone he’s gay and charts his anonymous online relationship with another closeted boy at his high school, known only as Blue. I wondered if I’d find Simon irritating at the start of the book but I grew to love him. He’s funny and his email exchanges with Blue are as endearing as they are entertaining. I stayed up much later than I should have one night because I was genuinely dying to find out the identity of Blue. I’m rubbish at working out any kind of mystery and true to form, I guessed wrong. I also enjoyed his interactions with his friends and family, who are all great. It doesn’t topple my favourite book in this sub-genre (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe) but it comes close. 4/5

 

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

This was my first novel by Murakami and it proved a good place to start (thanks for the tip Ana-Maria). It’s set in Tokyo in 1969 and while I see it described as a love story, it’s MUCH deeper than that.  While the subject matter is tragic, the narrator – 19 year-old Toru Watanabe – is wonderful and the writing is beautiful. It had a spare, melancholy feel and kept reminding me of Catcher in the Rye. I felt validated when one of the characters asks Toru if he’s trying to talk like Holden Caulfield. Ah, Toru. He is such a sensitive, kind soul who wears his heart on his sleeve. This makes him painfully vulnerable but incredibly empathetic. I’m concerned about how I will get on with the magical realism of Murakami’s other novels but I definitely going to give them a try. 5/5

 

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Should I read the rest of The Chronicles of Narnia? Can you recommend which Murakami novel I should try next?

 

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14 Comments

Filed under Book Review

14 responses to “Reading Diary

  1. It was many years ago but I absolutely loved The Name of the Rose. It would be interesting to re-read it in English. I read somewhere that Eco was very determined when it came to translations of his books, and that he worked with translators for different languages to make sure it was done right.
    Besides Norwegian Wood, from Murakami I remember liking A Wild Sheep Chase.

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  2. Ah, so I can’t blame the translator then, Undina 🙂 I have to have another crack at it at some point, but with so much other great stuff around it’ s hard to go back to something that was a struggle.
    I have heard Wild Sheep Chase is easier to read than a lot of Murakami’s work. Will give it a go, thanks.

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  3. Tara C

    For Mrakami, I liked Kafka on the Shore and 1Q84.

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  4. Lady Jane Grey

    This week I was finally able to practise one of my absolute favorite activities (since my childhood already !) : reading on my balcony together with my cat, while eating cherries… (the cherries are important, it‘s not the same without them !).
    I read The Name of the Rose ages ago, but I still remember that I loved it – however, I can rather relate to your problems with it, I had the same with Eco‘s Foucault‘s Pendulum. I left it for good after some 300 pages… You should definitely give it another try.
    You just made me download Norwegian Wood – so far I only read Murakami‘s Conversations with Seiji Ozawa (and I have to admit that for long time I mixed him up with Kazuo Ishiguro, who‘s books I like very much… Such a shame !)
    Your big holiday is approaching, not too long to go ! Sending lots of Love,
    m.

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    • So happy you are getting time to do one of your favourite things LJG. You deserve it.
      Good to know you loved The Name of the Rose. I will try again one day.
      I hope you get on with Norwegian Wood.
      Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro still haunts me!

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  5. The Chronicles of Narnia are fantastic, but am not sure I would read them again now. Funnily enough, the other weekend I picked up a boxed set in a flea market, thinking it would be good to own it, but the covers were not the ones I remember from the 60s, so it wouldn’t be the same, and I put it back. ;(

    I did own The Name of The Rose once, but it looked like a daunting read and I think I never turned a page. As it happens, I saw Foucault’s Pendulum on my brother’s shelves last week. Is Umberto Eco YA? I didn’t know that. In fact I am not sure I have ever read anything in that bracket. It didn’t really exist as a book category when I was a young adult. 😉

    Going back to children’s literature, I did buy a vintage edition of Charlotte’s Web in a charity shop the other day, which brought back memories. Shan’t probably read it, but along with my one Nancy Drew from the same era, am so happy to have them!

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    • Oh, your post has prompted me to google Eco’s other works, and he has written books for young children too, I see, like The Three Astronauts, which looks fun. I had no idea of his wide repertoire for different age groups, possibly because I fell at the first fence with The Name of The Rose! 🙂

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  6. I don’t feel compelled to carry on with the Chronicles of Narnia but it was a nice bit of nostalgia.
    You make me feel better about The Name of the Rose! I will persevere one of these days hopefully but no more than one more try. Too funny about Eco possibly being a YA author. I do envy young people these days having such great books written just for them.

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  7. Hey Tara,
    I loved the Narnia series until the last book which always made me want to read as fast as I could to get it over and done with. My set is very well thumbed.
    Name of the Rose was an early read for me and I can’t remember it, the fact that it’s not still in my collection means it never got a second read.
    A Suitable Boy has me by the short and curlies. I really want to find out what happens at the end but I read 5 or six pages and then put the book down. Cannot go on. This has been the status for nearly a year now.
    Portia x

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    • Hey Portia!
      The first Narnia book is so perfect I think I’ll leave it there.
      Life is too short to persevere with books you can’t get into but The Name of the Rose is so highly rated.
      I’ve had books like A Suitable Boy which you feel you’re going to be reading for the rest of your life.

      Like

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