Thursday, 4 December 2014

Blogmas 4: Semester Wrap-Up and Holiday TBR

I realised today that I haven't done a reading wrap-up or TBR for almost 3 months - so I thought I'd give you a quick catch up of what I've been reading over the past semester.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer - I actually did a book-to-film review of this in September. It was before my seminar on the book though, and I think I have somewhat different thoughts on it now that I've studied it in more depth. I still really recommend it - both as a book and as a film.

If This Is A Man/The Truce by Primo Levi - I had to read both of these books for my course. Primo Levi was an Italian Jew who was sent to Auschwitz during the end of the Second World War. If This Is A Man documents his life inside Auschwitz and The Truce documents his long return home from Poland back to Italy. Both are very enlightening texts, although I much preferred If This Is A Man as I felt like The Truce wasn't giving me what I wanted from it (as problematic as that is considering the autobiographical nature of the novel). I gave it 3/5 on Goodreads.

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels - Another book I had to read for my trauma module. This is a story in two parts. The first follows a young boy Jakob who escaped Germany after seeing his mother and father killed and his sister taken by the Nazis, and who grows up under the care of a kind Greek stranger. The second begins after Jakob's death, and follows Ben - a young man who admired Jakob - go on a journey of self-discovery, confronting his own relationship with The Holocaust. This book is very lyrical and metaphorical - which was both beautiful and distracting at times. I gave it 4/5 on Goodreads.

Bastard Out Of Carolina by Dorothy Allison - This is a harrowing story of a young girl growing up in the Deep South of America who gets sexually and emotionally abused by her step-father. As you may have guessed, this was another book I had to read for my trauma module. I adored this book - and I am currently doing my end of year project on it. I really recommend reading this - particularly if you're a young woman. I gave it 5/5.

Ugly Shy Girl by Laura Dockrill - I got this book because it was 99p on Kindle. It is a super short, very light read about a girl who is bullied at school before finding her friendship niche. I enjoyed it for the most part, but the ending confused me, so I gave it 3/5. It was also the first book I read which wasn't for my course.

Beloved  by Toni Morrison - I went into this book having already tried to read it three/four years ago. I was not looking forward to the experience at all, but I actually ended up really enjoying it. It is very hard to get into, but as soon as you become accustomed to the narrative style it is very rewarding. I ended up giving it 4/5.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  - This is a short essay on feminism. I really enjoyed this, although I did find it somewhat problematic in places. I am planning on putting up a review at some point this month once I've had time for a re-read to collate my thoughts.

In The Heart Of The Country by J M Coetzee - The final book I had to read for my trauma module, and possibly my least favourite. It follows a young woman called Magda who repeatedly acts out the death of her father and his new wife, as well as her own rape by her servant. Magda is very aware of her own insanity, making this a very confusing book to read with no real sense of truth and fiction or even right or wrong.

They were all the books I've read over the semester. I probably won't be able to do anymore reading until after my essay deadline on the 15th, as all my reading will be focused around that. However, I do have a couple of books in mind for when I finish my project.

To Rise Again At A Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris - I got a copy to review from my university newspaper, so I need to get on with this book as soon as possible. I'm currently 50 pages in and really enjoying it so far. This book was also Booker nominated.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith - My sister got this book from my grandparents earlier this year, and although crime fiction isn't really my scene I really want to read this outing from J K Rowling.

Do you have any recommendations for me? Or have you got any opinions on any of the books I've mentioned? Tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment below! Tomorrow is my Christmas Present Book Guide - so I'll see you then!

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