Since I didn’t read much in both November and December, I figured I’d combine them into one! These are the wonderful books I read in the last two months of the year. Some might even be rementioned in my future post of favourite books of 2017!
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
For such a thick and slow paced book, this is a highly readable and page-turning novel! I’ve heard many good things about Sarah Waters before, and when I saw someone recommending The Little Stranger to read as a Halloween read, I didn’t hesitate to start reading.
A novel set after the second world war in a small town, it’s about a local doctor who befriends a small family who lives in a large dilapidated mansion. As he becomes closer to the family and the house, strange and creepy events start to occur, slowly driving the people there into madness.
A creepy and gothic thriller, this book is not your average Stephen King or Agatha Christie. It’s atmospherically written, with amazing descriptions of the weather, the setting (especially the house), and great narration from the main character’s point of view. The characters in this book are very well crafted, and I adore each of them in their own ways.
The plot of the whole book was slow in the beginning, but as you get to learn more about the characters and enjoy the writing style, it began to pull you into the story and I just couldn’t stop reading it. How the final series of events happened is probably far from what any of us expected, but it was still a good ending nonetheless, in my opinion.
I honestly found no flaws in this book, except for the occasionally slow pacing. I love the atmosphere, the entire setting and characters, the writing including the dialogues, and the overall plotline was geniusly gripping and creepy. A wonderful autumn read for lovers of slow-burning books. Absolutely cannot wait to read more by Sarah Waters!
The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell
This was a lovely collection filled with twisted and beautiful tales. I feel like I’ve known the author, Jen Campbell, the Youtuber. I also was so lucky to be able to meet her in person, in the Dutch Comic Con, and be able to hear her talk for a little bit, got to tell her how much I liked her channel, and got this book signed by her 🙂 (For more of my experiences at the Dutch Comic Con, read my post here)
Although not a perfect and amazing short story collection, I still really adore this book, mainly because of the writing and the creativity, and also the themes discussed in this book. The fantastical and out of this world elements, combined with themes like LGBT, loneliness, relationships, sadness, and finding out who you are really make up this book and although each short story are written differently with different stories, some with even different formats, they all feel connected to each other because of the similar atmosphere surrounding the stories.
My favourite short stories are probably Animals, Plum Pie. Zombie Green. Yellow Bee. Purple Monster., Little Deaths, and Sea Devils.
I highly recommend this collection for lovers of magical realism, fairy tales, and unique writing. I’m looking forward to reading more works by Jen, but in the meantime, I’ll just watch her online.
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
This is a novel about brothers, deceit, bravery, friendship and loss set in Nigeria and is centered around four brothers, the main character Ben being the narrator. It was famous for winning lots of awards, and I was intrigued to read it.
With the metaphorical writing style and the slow pacing in the beginning, I understand why some people had some problems with it. As I began to enjoy the writing style, I began to love it more and get used to all the metaphors. By the end I think these metaphors, especially those related to the characters and animals that are mentioned in the beginning of each chapter, really made the book what it was, and added a unique experience to the book.
The characters were very likeable. I really liked Ben as a narrator. I thought the author chose the perfect member of the family to tell the story. Ben was not too young in the book, but also not the oldest. Nonetheless he is still a child and is easily manipulated, easily afraid, yet at the same time on critical moments, we see Ben making adult decisions that really shaped him as a person and really showed us his true character. It’s a wonderful story of growing up. Additionally, the relationships between all the characters in the book are very real and interesting. Flashbacks of unique experiences scattered around the book, mingled with their conversations and how the author incorporated the importance of language and culture to the story was wonderful to read about.
The plot of the book was mainly clear and was definitely not a twisty-turny crime novel, nor is it a storiless book only filled with lyrical writing and metaphors. The book always made me want to know what happens next, and by the last third of the book, I was hooked and I enjoyed every single page I read.
Overall, I think this book excelled in all the aspects a book needs to excel on. Interesting premise, well-written characters, exciting story, beautiful writing, a sneak into a culture I’ve never read about before, all combined into this amazing book that I absolutely enjoyed. Another excellent five star read for 2017, and most probably one of the best books I’ve read this year.
The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish
This is a dark thrilling mystery novel about swimming pools, friendships, bullying, family, hidden secrets, middle aged women, and trauma. A thick book that I’ve never heard of, I had hoped it would be a nice and fast read that’s exciting and thrilling.
Though it was definitely a page-turner, in the end I didn’t love this book. Despite how it was quite dark and quick to read, this book was different from what I expected and just was not my thing. There was nothing special with the writing, the characters were all so frustrating, and the plot was okay. An overall okay read that had a great story, but ultimately I would probably forget about the entire plot and the names of the characters by the time the new year rolled by.
You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down by Alice Walker
This short story collection is my first Alice Walker, and it centers around women, race, love, sexuality, family, and many other aspects of life I never really deeply thought about before. Things like the society’s views on black men marrying white women (or vice versa), rape, the hardships of living as a black woman in America, abortion, all were discussed in the short stories here. Though it was thought provoking and quite deep with a very unique writing style, some stories fell short and was not very memorable for me. Others were interesting and well written, my favourites being Coming Apart, The Abortion, and Laurel. I’m very interested to read Alice Walker’s novels, and I think I might like them more than her short stories.
The Architecture of Love by Ika Natassa
A light, romantic novel written by a famous Indonesian author, this is my first book by Ika Natassa. I didn’t expect much from the book, not even knowing anything about the story itself. To summarize, this is a love story between two people with dark pasts, a writer unused to new romance, and a silent man, an architect still grieving for his past. These two Indonesians met in New York City, and that is where the story unfolds.
It’s a nice and lovely read, with great characters and a smooth plotline. Though too often scattered with English phrases I sort of wished the author had written the whole book in English in the first place, and despite the fact that I am not a huge fan of romance-y novels, this was a quick read and quite heartwarming. The ending was a little too loose and felt rushed, but overall a nice read to increase my reading count at the end of the year.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
This is a gothic, thrilling short novel set in a small town and focusing around a small family of three people, the Blackwoods, living in an isolated large house. The three people are shunned and hated by the rest of the townspeople, and as the story continues through the youngest child’s narration, we get to know why and what happens next.
This is a highly recommended book that everyone has raved about in the internet, and I impulsively chose to read this on a lazy holiday afternoon. I was immediately sucked into the world, with the interesting and rather childish yet also unreliable writing point of view, added with the touch of mystery and suspense. This book reminds me of The Little Stranger and The Phantom of the Opera, with its horror-y feel and dark, creepy atmosphere of the whole book.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I can’t wait to read more by Shirley Jackson.
- Bumi Manusia by Pramoedya Ananta Toer
- Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
- Revival by Stephen King
These were the books I read in November and December! What are your favourite reads in the months?