Category Archives: reading

Reading in 2016

Wow wow wow. In 2016, I managed to do even less reading than the previous one! 17 books read out of 35. I mean, come on, didn’t even get close to reading HALF of my reading goal. That is depressing. Many books left unfinished, completion due in date unknown. But here is the list!

When God Laughs and other stories Jack London The Woman Who Rode Away and other stories D.H. Lawrence The Prophet Kahlil Gibran Japanese Fairytales Yei Theodora Ozaki O Anticristo Friedrich Nietzsche The Heart Goes Last Margaret Atwood Big Magic Elizabeth Gilbert O Coração Disparado Adélia Prado Ecce Homo Friedrich Nietzsche Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops Jen Campbell More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops Jen Campbell Reflexões Franz Kafka Perto do Coração Selvagem Clarice Lispector The Signature of All Things Elizabeth Gilbert The Jewel of Seven Stars Bram Stoker Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie The Lighthouse PD James

There was a time when reading below my yearly goals felt ‘shameful’. I write that in quotes because I understand how ridiculous it can be to categorise an activity such as reading, something you are doing for sheer pleasure and nothing else, as a shame. But that’s how it felt back then. Now, I’m taking it more as any journey one has. It is not a competition. Nobody is going to hand out medals or awards for reading more or reading certain books or literary genres. Nobody really CARES. It is not important. It is simply – f u n . And as long as it makes me want to read more – whether I end up doing so or not -, discover authors, embrace different genres, expand knowledge, then it’s already a win.

Now seriously, 2017 – up your game, okay?

• reading in 2015 •

reading2015_collageA House of Pomegranates, Oscar WildeThe Strange Library, Haruki MurakamiTales of Space and Time, H.G. WellsFlower Fables, Louisa May AlcottThe Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman The Infinities, John BanvilleA Cidade e as Serras, Eça de QueirósO Banquete, Patrícia PortelaThe Apothecary’s House, Adrian MathewsHúmus, Raúl BrandãoMemoirs of a Geisha, Artur GoldenBetween the Acts, Virginia WoolfDream Psychology: Psychoanalysis for beginners, Sigmund FreudA Room of One’s Own, Virginia WoolfThe Sense of an Ending, Julian BarnesThe Voyage Out, Virginia WoolfThe Complete Uncollected Stories, J.D. SalingerThe Big Leap, Gay HendricksHow a Child Thinks: a Piaget Primer, Dorothy G. SingerO Mar, A Mãe, Marie DarrieussecqThe Moonstone, Wilkie CollinsDubliners, James JoyceThe Art of Asking, Amanda PalmerUnder the Sunset, Bram StokerThe Invisible Giant, Bram StokerNobody’s Story, Bram StokerA Dream of Red Hands, Bram StokerThe Dualitists, Bram StokerMoon-Face and Other Stories, Jack London

29 books out of a goal of 35. Not too bad, although I have to admit the Bram Stoker entries at the end of the year were one short story each, found and read in a shameful desperation to reach my goal. Despite these efforts, I came to December very behind but hopefully I can make up for it this year, as I set the bar at the 35-book mark. Again. Thumbs up for resilience! Or stubbornness. Or… both?

Some of the books read before mommahood seem to have been read a lifetime ago and, in a way, it probably is true. While looking at the titles lined up in this yearly round-up, the ones that stand out as favourites are Patrícia Portela’s O Banquete, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins was probably the longest book in terms of page count of the bunch but it read like a breeze, I couldn’t put it down, and Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking – it was a true eye-opener and gave so many lessons into trust and humility and passion, very important backbones to an artist and, quite frankly, to any human being.

Most of them have also been read in the ebook format which would come as a surprise for the reading-me of a few years ago. I don’t actually prefer it to the feel of holding a book in my hands but it came quite handy during nighttime feeds and insomnias when turning on the light wasn’t a possibility. So, yeah, that was a plus. But this year I’d like to read a few more books in the conventional format rather than a digital one.

Besides the ongoing reads that crossed over to the new year path, I have decided to begin 2016 with a collection of poems and other work by W.B. Yeats. This book was given by my sister on my 30th birthday last year – and yes, the joke in the title did not go by unnoticed – and it’s part of the Penguin’s Drop Caps series where each letter is assigned to a classic literary work. What tends to happen every time I pick it up is that I get mesmerised by its beautiful vintage cover design and don’t go beyond that.

I mean, just look. at. it.
Gorgeous!

So, in 2016, I am hoping to read this too from first to last page, at least one poem or short essay or story a day. It just seems a nice way to read something daily, whenever I can’t find the time to pursue any of my other current readings. And let’s hope this year I don’t get myself back into shamefully stacking ridiculous single short stories to reach a goal. It’s a good aim and the rest is all part of the attempt.

january reads • 2015

janreads-1

1. Oscar Wilde, A House of Pomegranates [ebook]
2. Haruki Murakami, The Strange Library
3. H.G. Wells, Tales of Space and Time [ebook]
4. Louisa May Alcott, Flower Fables [ebook]
5. Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at The End of The Lane
6. John Banville, The Infinities
7. Eça de Queirós, A Cidade e As Serras [PT / ebook]
8. Patricia Portela, O Banquete [PT]

- – -

January has started out very well, reading-wise. I can’t tell when was the last time I had read this much in such a short period of time. These past couple of years, reading has been sparse compared to the glorious college days and I’ve been slowly struggling my way back to that. Partly because of pride, partly because it genuinely makes me feel good when I look back and find such a page-filled year behind me.

After getting a tablet, a purchase I was frowning much upon, my reading habits took a turn for the better, albeit still quite scattered. But it helped me to keep reading while travelling, without having to carry a suitcase of books along – that has turned out to be the biggest plus. Also have been tackling many classics, found in public-domain digital libraries and a few Portuguese works, as well.

My passion for literature, and reading in general, has a newfound enthusiasm; I’m not too sure whether this will last throughout the rest of the year, with the impending mommahood and all, so I guess these last few months are the perfect time to get ahead on my reading goals for 2015.

murakami-library

Some thoughts on this month’s books:

➼ As already mentioned on my 2014 reading review, H.G. Wells was a surprising delight; didn’t expect to enjoy it so much since science-fiction isn’t one of my preferred literary genres. Although not all stories were to my taste, this particular collection of tales made for a truly interesting read.

➼ Perhaps I have read too many Murakami books already but The Strange Library didn’t get my attention as I was hoping. Luckily it is a really fast read and the illustrations make up for the frail story being told.

➼ First time reading something by Neil Gaiman, apart from random quotes here and there. It got me curious to read more from the author, even though the whimsical scenarios sometimes tended to try and bring my imagination overboard. Still, couldn’t seem to put it down and his writing is really easy to follow and enjoy.

➼ John Banville’s Infinities did seem to take forever to finish. This book was stuck in my currently reading shelf since last year and only this January did I muster the will to go through til the end. Some parts were okay but most of the story felt constricted, with a lack of flow and consistency.

And that is all for January!

Any good reads in this first month? Would love to hear some interesting recommendations!


• reading in 2014 •

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Women, Charles BukowskiGentlemen & Players, Joanne HarrisHam On Rye, Charles BukowskiHollywood, Charles BukowskiFlatland, Edwin A. AbbottMonday or Tuesday, Virginia WoolfOdília, Patrícia PortelaWasteband, Patrícia PortelaTrópico de Câncer, Henry MillerO Lago Avesso, Joana BértholoUnderstanding a Photograph, John BergerHenri Cartier-Bresson: A Biography, Pierre AssoulineClaraboia, José SaramagoThe Charleston Bulletin Supplements, Virginia WoolfThe Autograph Man, Zadie SmithReport from the Interior, Paul AusterThe Sacred and Profane Love Machine, Iris MurdochNuns and Soldiers, Iris MurdochThe Dharma Bums, Jack KerouacOrlando, Virginia WoolfWhite Fang, Jack LondonThe Tell-Tale Heart, Edgar Allan PoeVenus in Furs, Leopold von Sacher-MasochThe Masque of the Read Death, Edgar Allan PoeThe Raven, Edgar Allan Poe2BRo2B, Kurt VonnegutThe Star, H.G. WellsThe Pit and the Pendulum, Edgar Allan PoeA Descent into the Maelstrom, Edgar Allan PoeThe Invisible Man, H.G. WellsThe Purloined Letter, Edgar Allan PoeThe Murders in the Rue Morgue, Edgar Allan Poe

➼ surprising find of the year: H.G. Wells! Wasn’t expecting to enjoy his writing as much as I did, not sure why. the great thing about misconceptions is, sometimes, they prove you wrong. and there’s nothing I enjoy more than having my opinion changed about a book, literary genre or writer.

➼ read a lot from some authors, went through the rest of Bukowski’s novels and finally dipped into Poe’s sombre world, which I hadn’t had the opportunity to do until now: some short stories clicked, others not so much.

➼ favourites: O Lago Avesso; Understanding a Photograph, HCB: A Biography; Report from the Interior; The Sacred and Profane Love Machine; White Fang; The Star

We’re 11 days into 2015 and I already managed to get 5 books under my belt – it always begins like this and then I get lazy mid-way, although I’m not so sure laziness will be the culprit this time around… ;)

2013: favourite readings

Albeit few, there were some books who stood out from the pack. Here are my favourite readings of 2013, with no order of preference.

Winter Journal, Paul Auster

The Volcano Lover, Susan Sontag

The View from Castle Rock, Alice Munro

1913: The Year Before the Storm, Florian Illies

Realizing now all these books are, in one way or another, retellings. Which I must admit are one of my favourite kinds of stories: to be led through a series of events and/or memories past. Ah, the nostalgic soul in me rejoices every time.

• reading (?) in 2013 •

Let’s get one thing clear:

last year’s reading track record was a disgrace!

Way way back, in the beginning of 2013 I somehow got an insane idea into my head: to read a total of 55 books that year. I don’t understand why on earth I would come up with this number, maybe because I got to thinking that 30 books/year was a really lame score result. I felt confident I could top my usual reading record, no questions asked, and that is why that wretched 55 came into the picture.

Fastforwarding to december 2013, and what did I have? 18 books read up until then. How had that happened? So I promised myself to read a few more books so as to have at least 20 readings under my 2013 belt. And I did.

This doesn’t mean reading less reflects into reading poorly and it’s not a matter of reading more just for reading’s sake. But it was surprising to me how little I had read compared to previous years and even though I have retracted to a total (minimum) of 30 books for 2014, I will still try to pick stories that are meaningful while keeping my bookworm status intact.

And what are you reading right now?
Any interesting stories making you keep that bedside light on a little while longer? :)

• a natural disaster, lydia davis •

When you are reading a short story and it suddenly becomes all about your worst recurrent nightmare, in paper personified. And as that last sentence goes through your eyes, you realise there is water being held in them, there is a faint panicky feeling just waiting to rise and take over.

The story goes,

In our home here by the rising sea
we will not last much longer.

and after that goes on describing what happens as the sea continues to rise, swallowing everything and everyone that comes in its way. The house is surrounded, overflowed in despair. It is exactly how I dream it, minus those details that are painstakingly familiar and personal. But all it takes is the pictorial description of waves crashing over us, the sea that no one can stop, a force of nature too brutal to endure. That’s all it takes for me to sob and scream as if it’s already coming. 

• reading in 2012 •

Speaking of lists, I was able to complete my 2011′s reading challenge with a total of 45 books. Few for some and quite daunting for others but in my case it was the right amount. Sure, I would have liked to read a bit more but, even so, I can’t complain: that’s a good chunk of reading. As I usually say, better than no reading at all.

This year, I’ve upped my ante a bit more: 55 books is the target, while hoping not only to reach but surpass it.
Too much good wishing? We’ll see.