Saturday, 2 February 2013

Reading in 2012


Another year is gone. As far as reading is concerned it was a good year for me. A lot of new books and new experiences in sharing reading. Thanks for my friends Alex (The Sleepless Reader) and Patty (Three Tales of a City) (thank you for that) I got into blogging and created my own blog. Yet still in its first infancy but hope that 2013 will see it expand and grow. 2012 was the first year that I read and recorded the books. I have always been a vivid reader but it adds and extra touch to really note it down and from time to time write a review.

Looking back on the 70 books I read last year I was lucky to read one of the best books just in the end of the year. It was a Christmas present for my son (yes, I am still trying to get him interested in reading!) but so far I am the only one who has read it. It is a book for youngsters but can be read by adults without any problems. It is an absolutely fantastic book by Ransom Rigg 'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children'.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Rigg

Jacob Portman grew up listening to stories from his grandfather. The grandfather escaped Poland during the was and came to a home on a small island outside the Welsh coast. Jacob always thought that the stories was made up. As he gets older and challenge his grandfather about the truth the grandfather gets very upset and shows him some photographs. As the old man gets more and more eccentric the contact between the two fades out.

One day his grandfather calls him and says that the monster has come for him. Jacob drops what he has and hurries over to his grandfather's house. He finds it empty but with blood on the floor. He traces the blood out through the garden into the woods where he finds his grandfather on the ground dying. The grandfather utters a few cryptic last words and tells him to go to the island since he is not safe where he is. Jacob hears something in the bushes, flashes his pocket lamp and see a monster which then disappears.

Jacob starts thinking of what his grandfathers' last words and when he get holds of a box with old photographs he decides to head for the island. It is a fantastic story which has been based on a lot of photographs of 'peculiar' children. These kind of children or adults that once upon a time were shown as celebrities in circuses. The fantastic photographs are included in the book which also gives the story a sort of legitimacy. Lovely characters and settings and a very interesting, sometimes dark story makes this the best book of the year for me.

Loving Che by Ana Menendez

Another favourite book of the year is 'Loving Che' by Ana Menendez. It's about an ex-cuban exile in Florida who left Cuba during the revolution and grew up with her grandfather. When he dies she finds some letters and she decides to go to Cuba to look for her past. She is, maybe like most immigrants or people who had to run away from their country lost in the world. She thinks that looking for her past and to know what really happened to her mother and to know of her father will be what she needs.

It is a very interesting and touching story. The prose is absolutely wonderful, one of the most beautiful I have read. It is there through all the book. Here some examples:

As a child, I had been one with weather. When we went down to the farm on the weekends, and the nights without moon were so black that you could scarcely make out your fingers in the dark, I used to lie awake, battered this way and that with the sound of the wind. If there was a storm coming, I could feel it miles away, smell it; and often I would wake the family, my parents and all the cousins, with my howling. This is when I began to wonder if perhaps the outer world was no more real than our imagination and all its thrashings but a mirror of our own thoughts. And I wonder now if our recorded history isn't like this, if our 
idea of history isn't another way of saying an idea of ourselves. 


And his writings were so obscure that no one ventured to guess out loud. Sometimes I suspected that he proposed the complete destruction of language as a way to progress. Other times I wondered if he wouldn't destroy everything in order to preserve the purity that had once resided somewhere in the sentence but that was not under attack by modern man, with his babble of radios and half written newspapers. We might ponder, he wrote in a typical passage, why the Romance languages are so rich with syllables and colours, trellised with flowers and diversions so that we cannot say a plain thing even when we think it and all our endeavors become hopelessly entangled in the baroque.

When I turn, Ernesto is sitting at the edge of the couch, his legs spread out before him, watching me.
What are you afraid of? I watch him. I have never considered this question. As a child I was afraid of the black nights, the duendes in the walls. But it was more than that. Because I continued to be afraid long after I stopped believing in duendes. I open my eyes and look at the man before me, his beard so close, the rough hair that moments ago had touched against my rawness. I am afraid of his going, of the black space 
he will leave when he vanished from my life. 

The book came out already in 2003. A highly recommended read. Her first book was short stories and she also came out with her third book, 'The Last War' in 2009. Might be worth looking for this one.




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