{Books in a Nutshell} January ~ March 2016

by Julia

 

 The Jealous Potter – Claude Lèvi-Strauss
|Italian Translation|

Anthropology is and always will be my first love, I never feel tired of it and I’m always on the lookout for something new to read. Lèvi-Strauss of course is a classic, but during my degree I had chance to read only excerpts of his work. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find anything in the original language at my local library, but well, that’s still better than nothing. His witty and sometimes humorous writing style makes this book almost an entertaining reading rather than a study book, so I believe it could be pleasant for peolple who are not necessarily into anthropology too.

Rated 4/5 stars on Goodreads

 

 Hotel Iris – Yoko Ogawa
|Italian Translation|

I’ve started picking up books at the library not only because I consider it to be the utter pleasure ever, but also because I’ve a long experience of not-so-well-written [at least for my taste] Japanese books. This one was actually somewhat different from those I read before, a little darker but without sinking into pure drama. The rather disturbing story was well rendered by the plain and essential writing style. Not my favourite genre but well constructed overall.

Rated 3/5 stars on Goodreads [but I would give it a half star more]

 

 Hong Fen – Su Tong
|Italian Translation|

I wasn’t able to find the English title for this novel, is it possible it hasn’t been published yet…? I find it rather hard to believe. Anyway. This was my first Su Tong experience and I did enjoyed it. I thought he was a writer from the beginning of the 20th century – and this is a good thing, isn’t it? Liked the style, liked the story.

Rated 4/5 stars on Goodreads

 

 Siddharta – Hermann Hesse
|Italian Translation|

A great classic, IMHO something that one should to re-read at least 3 or 4 times in his/her lifespam. It’s a book that tells you different things at different stages of your life. But most of all it’s a personal story, which has not so much to do with karma and dharma and samsara: it’s the perfect allegory of life anyone can benefit from.

Rated 5/5 stars on Goodreads

 

 The III-Made Mute – Cecilia Dart-Thorntorn
|Italian Translation|

One of my favourite 2016 books. I remember being told more than once by different people how boring and annoying this book was. I actually enjoyed every single page of it, the long description passages, the almost inexistant plot, the slow pace of the story. I loved it and it totally captured me. Already ordered No. 2 and 3 and can’t wait for them to arrive.

Rated 5/5 stars on Goodreads

 

 Two Novellas – Yoko Ogawa
|Italian Translation|

Another book that I wasn’t able to find in the English version. I liked the first story, it holds the familiar twisted thoughts of Okaga’s characters together with a form of lyricism I honestly found fascinating. On the other hand, I didn’t get the second story – I was really struggling to grasp what it was talking about.

Rated 3/5 stars on Goodreads

 

 Raise the Red Lantern – Su Tong
|Italian Translation|

I really liked the introduction (written by the author himself) – I actually enjoyed that more than the novel itself. It left a feeling of unfinished and unexplained, with some parts progressing really rapidly and others not going really anywhere. I appreciated the prospective it gives but I wish it could have gone a little more indepth.

Rated 3/5 stars on Goodreads

 

 The Soulforge – Margaret Weiss
|Italian Translation|

I loved this book less than the Dragonlance saga I read back in 2015, probably because I don’t really resonate with Raistling as a human being. I helped me understanding many things I didn’t catch in the previous books though, and the last part was particularly well written and gripping.

Rated 4/5 stars on Goodreads

 

 Please Look After Mom – Kyung-sook Shin
|Italian Translation|

I really, really loved this book. It has everything a good novel should have: interesting plot, great writing style, original plot twists, heart-breaking passages, multiple perspectives (I could go on and on). Definitely the best piece of literature so far this year.

Rated 5/5 stars on Goodreads

 

 Our Twisted Hero – Mun-yol Yi
|Italian Translation|

Well written, but definitely not a breakthrough. My problem with most Asian novelists is that I enjoy the book while reading it, but once finished it doesn’t really leave any impression on me. I usually find it hard to get where they’re leading up to, and in all honesty this is no exception. I just feel I don’t have all the tools to get the most out of these stories.

Rated 3/5 stars on Goodreads [but I would give it a half star more] 

Making this list I realised I’ve only read books in traslation, which is weird because in the last 3 years I’ve been reading more in English than in my native language. I guess this is partially due to the fact that I still have many novels I bought back when I still didn’t feel much comfortable reading in English, and I would like to finish off those before leaving for Scotland. I’ll try to vary more during the next trimester!

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