Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Book challenge - Part 4

I have had a busy few months and am actually taking part in another Book Blogging challenge for Blogtober. But I have finally managed to complete the 4th Part of my #26BooksWithBringingUpBurns challenge. You can read the 3rd Part here (and there are links to the other 10 prompts in that post too). Or just go ahead and enjoy prompts 16-20. Only one part to go...

16. A book you learned about because of this challenge - The Auschwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada
In order to choose the book that fit this criteria I asked a question on a wonderful Facebook group's page called The Bookshop Café (which I am very active on and I urge any book lovers out there, to join this group too. We have great discussions about books). The question I put to this lovely group of book nerds was 'What is the book which you think nobody should live their lives without reading??' I didn't want simply to know their favourite book or a book they find kind of ok. I wanted to know the books that every single person should read. And I got some great answers including this one, which, after I read the blurb, I was very excited about reading.

And, after reading this book, I have to say that I agree with whoever suggested it to me. This book is truly beautiful and should be added to every single TBR list immediately.

It is only very short at 128 pages but the emotions that the author manages to pack into this tiny novella is a little extraordinary. This book is set in a concentration camp in the early 1940s where Jewish Daniel has managed to survive due to his use as a carpenter. But his real profession is actually as a violin-maker and when his German commander learns of this, he is forced to make a beautiful violin as part of a bet that he has with another commander.

Of course, I won't tell you whether he succeeds and I can't tell you a lot more or I would accidentally give it away. But my god, is this book haunting. It has all the brutality that you would expect from a novel set in a concentration camp but it's so much more than that. There is some real beauty in there too and deep friendship is also portrayed. It really is worth a read and it will stick with you forever.

17. A book that will make you smarter - Get Rich Blogging by Zoe Griffin
I think if you read anything at all, it will automatically make you a smarter and a more rounded person. But I decided to read a non fiction book for this prompt as I don't often read them, apart from the very occasional autobiography. And I thought this particular book would help my knowledge of how to turn my hobby into a career.

This had a lot of waffle in it. A lot. But if you managed to wade through that, there was some really sound advice. I underlined and highlighted and scribbled throughout the book (much to the horror of one woman on the tube who wouldn't stop staring at me as I did this) and I think I have come away with some good tips. Even if I don't become rich it was really useful to see how I could enlarge my audience and begin to make money from something that I love to do. So watch this space. You never know, you might be looking at the next Carrie Bradshaw.

18. A book with a blue cover - On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
I love it when a front cover is actually relevant to the novel within its clutches and these days, so many don't relate at all. But you can always count on certain authors to do the job properly and the blue cover was 100% representative of the story.

This was only a short book - my copy was about 160 pages long. And it depicted one night in July 1962 - Edward and Florence's wedding night, with some flashbacks to their earlier courting.

A lot was packed into those 160 pages: love, loss, anger, betrayal, pure happiness and the deepest depression you could imagine. There was mental illness, physical illness, birth and death and it ended up spanning a little more than just that night. It truly was a beautifully written and exquisitely created book. Every word meant something. And Florence's pressure to perform was so emotive. Each character had their faults but you couldn't help loving them anyway and longing for them to succeed. Which they did but not in the way you would expect.

And where does the blue cover come in, I hear you ask? Well, blue has always been the colour of purity as it is associated with the Virgin Mary. So do you think this young bride succeeds in losing her virginity or not? Is that even a success anyway? Read the book and find out...

I really really recommend that you read this book. It will stay with you for a long time (I seem to be saying that a lot in this blog challenge).

19. A book you were meant to read in school but didn't - The Catcher in the Rye by J. D Salinger
I, of course, was a very good girl when I was at school with a huge love of literature. So I obviously read every single book that I was meant to. Therefore for this prompt I thought I would take a book that I read in school and reread it.

I studied The Catcher in the Rye for GCSE just over 7 years ago but have never reread it since then, which is very remiss of me because it is an excellent book.

However, on going back to it and despite loving it when I was studying, I found I didn't enjoy it half as much now. Maybe it's because I didn't have the wonderful passion of my year 11 English teacher behind me, pushing me to examine the text in depth. Or maybe it was simply because Holden Caulfield is so darn annoying!

I understand that he is meant to be this way. He is mentally very unwell which could have been caused by the death of his brother, or the (implied) inappropriateness from past teachers. But when I read, it's the characters which always make me engage with it and make/break a book for me. And this character just annoyed me. I couldn't deal with the fact that he kept on saying one thing then doing another. Or ostracising someone for a certain characteristic and then displaying that he had that characteristic himself. I just became angry with him and, although I did finish the book, I couldn't say I particularly enjoyed it this time. I will have to try again sometime in the future, and see if my views revert to their earlier love.

20. A book everyone but you has read - 1984 by George Orwell
This is the big one that most people are surprised I haven't read (I have now yay!). I have read Animal Farm which makes it a little better but the idea of the Big Brother-ness of 1984 always scared me

And I was right to be scared really. This book really really freaked me out. I finished reading it about a week ago and I am still feeling really unsettled by it. The thing is, the (hugely cruel) world portrayed, could so easily be a part of the one we live in today that it made me feel odd. And it is a reality to a certain extent, in places such as North Korea. But it is only one little step to being a part of daily life here in England and for us to be controlled by whichever governing body happens to be in charge. It's just a horrible thought.

But that shows what a truly brilliant book it is. It touched a nerve and stayed with me, and although it was written so many years ago, it is still very relevant today. Not many writers can say that.

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  1. I'm so happy to that you found Holden Caulfield annoying too! It seems like everyone loves The Catcher in the Rye, but when I read it, I really found it hard going because I just didn't get on with him as a character. xx

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