Catching up

Due to our traveling, I’ve not written about a good many books I read lately, just as I haven’t participated in the Wonderful Words posts nor finished the number of books I wanted to read this month. There are a couple of novels I want to write more profusely about, but for the rest of them, just a few sentences will have to do. Also because, I’ve been ill(ish) for the past week and I am now under antibiotics, so I don’t feel up to the task. I’ll post the rest of the missing reviews as soon as I get better, promise!

*****

The book: Dai Sijie, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

The edition: Portuguese translation by Maria Filomena Duarte, as published by Terramar (softcover edition), 162 pages

My experience and my thoughts: this was for me the first attempt at an (online) book club. Apparently, none of us liked it. To me, there were too many things that didn’t make sense (the choice to tell the story as a fairy-tale, when the author knew the reality of reeducation camps firsthand; the three versions of an episode of very little relevance; the narrator’s passive attitude to everything; the seamstress falling for a boy she just met once…). We ended up discussing a million different secret meanings that could make the book worth reading… but none was convincing enough. Fast and light read, though, and the book club was a nice experience.

*****

The book: Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle

The edition: Italian translation by Daniela Venturi, as published by Kappa Edizioni (softcover edition), 247 pages

My experience and my thoughts: I picked this up because my sister had it checked out from the library and I had just heard of the author (when she passed away). Nice read, a lot of fantasy details and great imagination/imagery. It bothered me that there were too many things left unexplained (why did she have magic powers?) and the ending seemed a bit rushed together.

*****

The book: Lucy & Stephen Hawking, George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt

The edition: Italian translation by Angela Ragusa, as published by Mondadori (paperback edition), 239 pages plus color insert with space photographs

My experience and my thoughts: I had not read the first one, but I had been curious about it for a long time. As it turned out… it may be very nice for its target reader (i.e. children). Me, I found it patronizing, and the science inserts were thrown in the middle of the action, so that you needed to skip them and read them afterwards. Not good.

*****

The book: Kent Nerburn, Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace

The edition: HarperOne hardback, 129 pages

My experience and my thoughts: this is an inspirational book based on the prayer by Saint Francis (even though the book itself does not completely go by Christian theology). A nice read, in small doses. Unfortunately I realized that inspirational books are not my cup of tea.

*****

ETA: Sorry, no cover pictures. I was having problems with the formatting. Hopefully it’s only a temporary WP thing.

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2 comments on “Catching up

  1. Oh no, so many mediocre reads! I’ve heard many good things about the Daj Sijie, I hope I like it more than you did when I get to it. Ditto for Howl’s Moving Castle, another one I want to like. If I ever get around to reading it that is!

  2. I’m afraid I sound much harsher than I intend, when commenting books.
    All four of them had some good things, so I wouldn’t say they were “mediocre”. But all of them had drawbacks, too — mainly, that’s personal, my own reaction to them. I can see they would appeal a lot to many other people.
    Howl’s Moving Castle, especially… I think that the sequel may hold the answers I didn’t find in it.
    Unfortunately, it is true that I still have to read one book this year that makes me go “WOW”.

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