Sunday, 8 May 2016

Review: The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Title: The Silver Linings Playbook
Author: Matthew Quick
Year: 2008
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Pages: 289

In The Silver Linings Playbook we get to know Pat. He only just got out of a mental institution and it soon becomes clear that he's still a little unstable. He's very much in love with his estranged, Nikki, but they have agreed to have an indefinite 'apart time'. Pat's sure he'll win her back and tries to become the man she's always wanted. But then he meets Tiffany, who thinks about life quite differently.

It doesn't happen very often that I see the film before I read the book. Generally, I don't watch a film 'because I want to read the book first' but then I never read the book and consequently never get to see the film.
In the instance of The Silver Linings Playbook it was a little bit different: I desperately wanted to watch the film, but wasn't too interested in the novel. After I had seen the film, I kinda wanted to read it but still didn't pick it up. Until some friends started to recommend it. I picked it up, and finally got around to reading it.

I don't think I should compare the film and the novel, but I do want to say that I found they're very different. Not necessarily story-wise, but the characters of Pat and Tiffany intruiged me more while reading him rather than watching him.

This brings me to the first reason  why I really loved the book: the characters. They're so well-rounded, and there's so much development going on. Moreover, I just really liked the story. I had seen the film, so I couldn't say it was unpredictable, but don't suppose someone would be able to pin-point where the plot was headed. Because of the fickle nature of both Pat and Tiffany, you'd never know what they'd be up to.

What I didn't like, however, was the superfluous amount of  football references. Football is big in Pat's family, and I get that it's big in the United States, but I personally know little about it, nor do I care to know about it. There were quite a few parts in the novel that I skimmed, just because of the football.

Overall though, the novel was great. Perhaps less 'fun' than I had expected - there were some really sad parts, but I truly loved the characters, despite their many flaws. Great quick read - go read it!

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Review: More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

Title: More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops
Author: Jen Campbell
Pages: 128
Publisher: Little, Brown

More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops is the second book Jen Campbell wrote about her experience as a bookseller. It's entirely composed out of short conversations either she had in the bookstore she worked, or readers had - the latter part of the book were submissions.

Some quotes were funny, but some really weren't. None were laugh out loud funny, which left me feeling a bit disappointed. And honestly, I doubt the authenticity of some of these conversations. Perhaps made funnier than they originally were.

Still, it was a fun little book and I enjoyed reading it.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Dewey's Readathon - Live Blog

11:00 | Only three hours left

I've been enjoying reading V for Vendetta far more than I thought I would - I'm usually not really into graphic novels. I've read 150 pages so far, which brings my total page count to 848

I'm eating some fruit as a snack, and I've drank some lovely white dragon tea. 

The next few hours I'll likely finish my current read, and perhaps start a new one. Also, my friend'll probably be here within the next hour :) 

8:50 | 19 hours in

I slept until 7:15, made some breakfast, checked twitter and some blogs, and now it's time to continue reading. But which book?

While deciding this, I tidied the house a little, brushed my teeth, did my hair and makeup.. andd an hour later, I still don't know what I should read. 

V for Vendetta it is. Let's go!

1:00 | 11 hours in

I've just finished my third book for the day - Wie heeft er wel een boek bij zich? by 
Johan Goossens. A Dutch one this time, and it was a fun little book to read and I really enjoyed it. It was 175 pages, which brings my total to 696

I didn't snack, except for a few sweets, and all I drank was a glass of water. 

I know the true readathon'er stays up all night, battling through their tiredness. But to be quite frank, I've come down with a heavy cold a few days ago, and it'd be plain stupid not to get a decent amount of sleep. So I'm going to bed now, probably will be getting up at around 7:30 and read lots more! Tomorrow's extra exciting because a friend is coming over for the last few hours, and we'll be reading together :) 

23:00 | 9 hours in

Finished Silver Linings Playbook just in time for my next update! That means I've now read a total of 521 pages. The last three hours were exciting, just because I was really getting into this book. It's absolutely great! Thanks everyone for recommending it, it surely is a good book for a readathon :)

I didn't end up taking a walk. I didn't really want to go alone and I only wanted to go for a twenty minute walk or so and my boyfriend didn't wanna go with me for that short. So I just took another cup of tea and continued reading. 

I switched reading spot for the first time today as well - from a chair to the couch :') because my boyfriend was watching The Dark Knight and we were going to have some crisps  and some beer. I thought it would be sociable to move a little bit closer. 
Anyway, I got too engrossed in my book, so I didn't really watch the film. 

I'm excited to continue reading, but I don't know which book I'll pick up just yet. I should admit I'm not going to be able to stay up all night, too, so in the next few hours, I'll probably go to bed as well. I will update before that happens though! 

               20:00 | 6 hours in

I read the first 30 pages of Silver Linings Playbook before I started cooking dinner. 

Making and eating dinner took about an hour, and afterwards I read a little bit more. I'm now at page 100, which means my total count for today this far is 332 pages. Not going too fast, but I'm enjoying the readathon a lot, keeping up with twitter and instagram a lot more than I did last year. 

Other than dinner, I didn't have any snacks. I did drink tea, obviously. This time, white tea Jasmine. It's really good. 

I'm still feeling energised, but I do think I may go for a little walk in the next few hours. Also, I'm just going to continue the book I'm currently reading, as it's really great so far.  

17:00 | 3 hours in

I just finished reading Scarlet. As I'd already read about half of the novel, this sets my total amount of pages read to 232. I'm really glad I finally finished this book, and I'm glad I picked it up as my first readathon read. 

As for snacks, I've eaten a few pieces of frozen pineapple, and I had a piece of 'vlaai' which is a kind of pastry typical for the part of the Netherlands I live in. I've also drank quite a few cups of china gun powder tea.

My plans for the next few hours include cooking dinner and obviously reading. But I'm not entirely sure which book yet. Should I pick up Silver Linings Playbook?

14:00 | Kick Off

It's almost time for the Readathon to start, and I'm so excited, bordering on nervousness!

This morning, I prepared myself as best possible. Unfortunately, I woke up earlier than planned, but that allowed me to go to the store earlier so I could pick up some snacks for the day. I decided to keep it slightly healthy this year, eating mostly fruit.
I prepared dinner for as far as possible, cleaned the house a little, ate a big lunch and read tons of blogs, twitter posts and checked out instagram filtered on #readathon. It's so much fun to see everyone so excited.
I just took a shower, boiling water right now for my first cup of tea for the day and to be fair, I'm currently just waiting for the clock to hit 14:00.

The first book I'm gonna pick up is Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. I started this a while ago, and although I haven't been in the mood for YA recently, I think this will be a great start.
Are you ready? Let's go! :)

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Dewey's 24-hour Readathon

On April 23rd the lovely people over at are hosting yet another 24-hour Readathon.

Generally, I work every weekend, which is why I couldn't join in on October's edition. Yesterday, however, I found out that I'm not working this weekend which means I can join in this time!

This is very last minute, and I'm very indecisive about my TBR-pile, but I'm utterly excited as I thoroughly enjoyed it last time (April 2015). As this marathon starts at the same moment all over the world, for me it'll start at two in the afternoon. Inconvenient in the sense that I'll be awake for hours before the readathon starts, which may mean I'll need to sleep a few hours at night, but it also means I have time to prepare in the morning. I may go to the library, pick up a few extra books, and then head to the store to pick up some delicious reading food and drinks. Any recommendations for snacks?  

Here's a picture of books I might perhaps read, but as I mentioned, I'm having a hard time deciding.

V for Vendetta by Alan More and David Lloyd
Because a graphic novel may be nice to switch things off
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Because I love classics, but I know I shouldn't read those during a readathon - a children's book may be a good solution
Efter by Hanna Bervoets
Because I'm trying to read more Dutch
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
Because I'm dying to know how this series ends
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Because I started this months ago and never finished it even though it was a quick read
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
Because I'm sure it'll be a quick read
Everybody Sees the Ants
Because I've owned it for a long time and should get to it
Wie heeft er wel een boek bij zich by Johan Goossens
Because I saw this guy's comedy show the other day and it was great

I'll probably update this blog every few hours, like I did last year, but I'll also be over at twitter and instagram, as well as goodreads.

Are you joining? Please let me know, so we can support each other :D


Sunday, 17 April 2016

Review: Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Title: Tipping the Velvet
Author: Sarah Waters
Year: 1998
Publisher: Virago
Pages: 472

Nancy is your typical young girl in Victorian England. She helps her parents out in their oyster restaurant, and enjoys going to the music halls every once in a while. When one night she sees male impersonator Miss Kitty Butler perform, her whole life changes.  

The novel is divided into two parts, the first of which describing Nancy falling in love with Kitty. This part really shows Waters' writing skills, as you're truly experiencing first love all over again. You understand the emotional rollercoaster Nancy is going through - you feel happy when she's happy, but you're also as heart-broken as Nancy when she is.   

The second part is a lot different. I don't mean to spoil anything, but Nancy goes through so much - from being a whiny, heartbroken girl, to becoming a male prostitute, to becoming someone's sexslave, back to being a heartbroken girl. It's epic, it's big, amazingly written, but it's rushed, and lacks a depth I would have preferred. You experience life with Nancy through some of the most crucial moments in her life, yet you don't truly get to know her as you don't know what she's thinking. It seems as though Waters was rushing the story a little bit, focusing too much on plot development. That is not to say that there isn't any character development - there is, her actions change, but we don't know what moves her in that direction.  

One of the most magical aspects of this novel is the way in which it makes you feel like you're actually there. Events are described in great detail, allowing you to experience what is happening, but Waters also describes the surroundings so well - you almost smell the oysters in the beginning, see busy London, and feel the enchantment of the theatre.   

Tipping the Velvet is the debut novel of the now highly acclaimed novelist Sarah Waters. This is also the first Sarah Waters I've read, and I'm mesmerised, and certainly going to be reading more of this author's work. As I said, I enjoyed the first part more than the second, based off the fact that this was only her first novel, I can only imagine she has become even better an author, and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work. 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Review: Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Title: Far from the Madding Crowd
Author: Thomas Hardy
Pages: 448
Publisher: Penguin

"Hardy's powerful novel of swift sexual passion and slow-burning loyalty centres on Bathsheba Everdene, a proud working woman whose life is complicated by three men - respectable farmer Boldwood, seductive Sergeant Troy and devoted Gabriel - making her the object of scandal and betrayal. 
Vividly portraying the supersitions and traditions of a small rural community, Far from the Madding Crowd shows the precarious position of a woman in a man's world" 

I read this novel in the beginning of February, and I should have written the reveiw in the middle of February. I never jotted down any of my thoughts on this novel, and although I remember really loving it, I can't recall exactly why. So I'm terribly sorry for this super short and shitty review, but I'll just write down what I do remember: 
- I love Hardy's writing style;
- I loved how I disliked Bathsheba - such an annoyingly naive character, yet well-crafted
- The ending was marvelous
- It took me a while to get through, because the beginning takes forever, which is probably why I rated it four stars, rather than five. 

Friday, 8 April 2016

No More #FridayReads

I've decided to stop with my #FridayReads posts, for now at least.
My main reason for this is that I want to focus on writing more reviews, and reading lots of books. Writing these #FridayReads posts costs energy I'd rather spend on other (blogrelated) things.

For 2016, I've decided to read very many new books. Books that are nominated for awards, to be precise. I'm going to be reading (or at least, trying to read), shortlisted books for some literary prizes.

I do hope you check back soon for my next review :)

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Review: The Catcher in the Rye

Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Year: 1951
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 214

Probably the most well-known characters in American literature: Holden Caulfield. This angsty yet rash, sentimental yet conceited teenager is the hero of J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye - an American modern classic, that, although banned at times, has been read by a great amount of people, has influenced numerous lives, and inspired so many authors. It tells the story of 16-year-old Holden, who, after he has been expelled from prep school, leaves for New York, to go back to his parents and younger sister. However, as a result from a fight with his roommate, he has left a couple of days early, meaning his parents haven’t received the dean’s letter yet. Not wanting to break the news himself, he decides to get a room in a hotel and kill some time there.

To be fair, though, the plot isn’t really of much value as it is mostly a character driven, technically written novel which is fed by thoughts and literary devices. I’ll try and explain what I mean.

Firstly, let's take a look at our main character Holden. He thinks a lot, and he voices these thoughts to us, the readers. But he doesn’t really act. He philosophises, has profound ideas, but I don’t think people around him are aware of this. He might seem outgoing, but he very much keeps to himself. For example: the main theme of this novel is losing innocence, becoming an adult. For the reader a recurrent phenomenon throughout the novel, but for Holden a constant struggle in his mind, always holding him back. He tries to prevent becoming older by not doing certain things associated with becoming an adult: he is, for instance, still a virgin. His not finishing school also symbolises this rebellion against growing up. Moreover, he loves the museum - a place that can capture a moment, stop time. He wants to stay young, a child, as he admires the innocence and naivety in children. But as he slowly starts to realise he cannot prevent becoming an adult himself, he wants to help other children, such as his sister, by being a catcher in the rye.

“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all”

Let’s now talk about the technical side of the novel. The difficulty in explaining this lies in the fact that this is a combination of writing-style, narrative techniques, and the use of symbols and motives. As I should be weary that I don’t turn this review into an essay, I’ll try to be brief.

The way in which The Catcher in the Rye is written, is odd. The style takes some getting used to, but you can’t really put your finger on what’s off. The swearing, the slang, repetition - all devices used by Salinger to make Holden feel like a real person, yet there’s distance. This, I eventually figured out, is created by the passive tense. It took some research (watching Crash Course videos) to find out exactly why Salinger would do this: Holden, the 17-year-old version recounting the story, is trying to create a distance between himself and his problems. He’s struggling a lot, and by doing this, it might seem as if all the issues really aren’t his. This, along with the interwoven symbolism, clues and motifs, as well as the impeccable ending, is what make this novel a masterpiece.

However, I didn’t really love The Catcher in the Rye at all. The ending made up for many of the issues I had, and the research I did afterwards made room for appreciation and added the extra star to my original two-star rating. I’m having a hard time putting into words what was the problem for me with this novel. I hated Holden, that’s one. I didn’t care for him at all. But generally, though, with other characters in other novels, this doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t enjoy reading about them. But Holden aggravated me. I found him dumb, annoying, arrogant and inconsiderable and as a result, I really didn’t want to read about him. This, along with the writing style - the constant swearing, odd short sentences - , made for an unpleasant reading experience. As I said, though, I do appreciate it now that I see how much care went into the development of this novel. I might not have enjoyed this book much, but I do think that Salinger is one of the most clever authors that ever existed.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Friday Reads

Although I don't have too much to say, I thought I'd best make a(nother) comeback with a #FridayReads.

At the beginning of the year, I had decided to start reading more Dutch books, and I'd been failing a little, because Dutch books are expensive and I generally still bought English books. Since my sister recommended me to get a library subscription and I listened (!) things have been going a lot better. I didn't really know where to get started reading contemporary literature, so I decided to browse around some literary prizes and I found that the Libris Literatuurprijs Shortlist had just been announced. I picked up a few of those from the library (offline as well as online as ebook), and that's what I've been reading for the past week. I finished two, and I'm currently reading the third one: Als de winter voorbij is (When Winter is Over) by Thomas Verbogt. Only three more to go!

You may now think that this 'reading Dutch' thing is going to ruin my English blog, but I promise you it isn't. I have quite a few things - reviews as well as other posts - planned out. This Sunday, you can expect a review of one of the most well-known American modern classics.

Have a great weekend! :)

Friday, 26 February 2016


It's time for another #fridayreads! (two times in a row, you should be proud)

I did get quite a bit of reading done last week, so I finished Far From the Madding Crowd and it was amazing. I'll have a review up as soon as possible. I didn't read in either of the other two books I was reading last week - Scarlet and Justice so there's no use in updating on that. Check last week's post if you care to know what these books are about and what I think of them so far.

I did start a new novel, yet another one for my classics club, and I'm pretty excited about this, as I'm finally getting to know Holden Caulfield. That's right, I've finally gotten around to reading the book everyone read in highschool, but I didn't: Catcher in the Rye. I'm only a few pages in, but I am really enjoying this story about a sixteen-year-old boy who has just been expelled from prep school. Let's see where this widely-loved modern classic is going to take me!

Have a great reading week :)

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Review: The Dumb House by John Burnside

Title: The dumb house 
Author: John Burnside
Year: 1997
Publisher: Vintage
Pages: 204
Life and death, and the thin line between the two, has always interested Luke. As a child, he enjoyed dissecting animals, but now, as an adult, things have gotten out of hand. He could blame his mother for all of this: after all, she’s the person who told him about the Dumb House, about the experiment that was to test the innateness of language. If you were to raise children without ever speaking to them, would they still develop language? Even though the experiment had been conducted in the past, Luke finds there’s little evidence backing it up, and as his obsession with the tale grows, he feels he should contribute to the research. 

There are many reasons why this novel grabbed my attention, but to be honest, the reason I even heard of it was because of author and bookvlogger Jen Campbell, and the hype resulting from her mentioning the book. She spoke of it so passionately that halve of the booktube community started reading it, and ever since it was on my to-buy list. I had kind of forgotten about it when I was reviewing my list (I do this every once in a while, checking which books I should cross out) and when I saw this title, I looked it up. This is when I really became interested in reading it. It seemed every critic loved the novel, Burnside’s prose alongside the ingenious plot. Besides that, I also followed quite a few linguistic courses during my Bachelor’s and since, I’ve been interested in language development. This novel seemed like the perfect, albeit morbid, opportunity to combine this with my love for literature. So I bought it, and not long after, I read it. 

It’s easy to be dissappointed when you’re beyond excited, knowing for sure you’ll love a novel. I was prepared to be dissappointed. But it turned out there was no need to be. This novel is all critics promised it to be. Not only is Burnside a brilliant writer, using language in such a clever and beautiful way to describe a clearly disturbed character and his thoughts, he also manages to make the reader feel almost criminal: you clearly don’t approve of what is happening, yet you’re interested in knowing the outcome. 

But let’s back up to the depiction of our protagonist: Luke. It doesn’t take more than halve a sentence to know you’re dealing with an insane character. You don’t have to figure out he’s a psycho, and he clearly has some unresolved mommy-issues. But as you get deeper into the story, as you get to know him better, you actually learn you don’t know so much about him. The story is written from his perspective, meaning every aspect is biassed. This reminded my much of Lolita in which you follow a similarly perverse character and are made to think there is true love between a child and a grown man. The only reason you believe this is because the protagonist, through whom’s eyes you you see the story, believes it to be true. Reflecting these thoughts on The Dumb House you could argue that Karen and Lillian, for example, are likely to be very different from what Luke may want the readers to think. Now I don’t want to go into too much detail on this, but I thought this was an interesting concept (oh how I wish I was still a student, I would surely find an opportunity to write an essay on this). 

Another interesting aspect of the novel is its structure. From the very start, you know what Luke has done, yet you don’t know the exact details until the very end. This may not be a very innovative way to tell a story, but in this case it worked particularly well. It sucks you in immediately, and it will never let you go. You want to know more and more, and even though you learn things along the way, they’ll only leave you with more questions. 

I don’t want to talk too much about the actual plot, because I don’t want to spoil too much, but just know that the Burnside did his research, is insanely creative, and probably a bit mad. He did what not many other authors do – he found the perfect balance between good writing and a solid story: never having the one get in the way from the other.

All in all, this is a must read. Although it’s literary fiction, someone who might normally only read horror will also like it, and because of the way it intertwines language, psychology and philosophy, it’ll also be highly interesting for those who only read non-fiction. 

Friday, 19 February 2016

Friday Reads

As a consequence of a lack of reading, there has also been a lack of blogposts. But now I've started reading, and enjoying it, again, so be prepared for more posts. First off, let's update you on what I'm currently reading.

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Ever since read Tess of the D'Urbervilles, I've been interested in reading more of Hardy's work. I was intrigued by his writing and his story telling and I decided to read another of his well-known novels. Especially because I've been wanting to see the newest adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd, I chose this one. I'm currently at about 25% and I'm thoroughly enjoying it, even though it's much different from what I had expected. So far, it's not even a little bleak - as opposed to the depressing Tess, and though not always the smartest characters, they're not nearly as annoying as some of Tess'. I know now I should stop comparing the two, and continue reading Far From the Madding Crowd as a separate novel. I am interested to see how the story develops, though, because I'm pretty sure it will turn darker soon.
In case you're unaware of the plot, here's the blurb (because I'm having trouble summarising it myself):
Hardy's powerful novel of swift sexual passion and slow-burning loyalty centres on Bathsheba Everdene, a proud working woman whose life is complicated by three different men - respectable farmer Boldwood, seductive Sergeant Troy and devoted Gabriel - making her the object of scandal and betrayal. 
Vividly portraying the superstitions and traditions of a small rural community, Far from the Madding Crowd shows the precarious position of a woman in a man's world. 

Justice by Michael J. Sandel
I've always been interested in philosophy, but to be honest, I never read anything about it except for what I had to read for courses. Now I'm done with uni, and I'm kind of missing these obligatory texts. I discussed this with a colleague and he recommended this book. I bought it, and now finally have started reading it. And it's good. It basically discusses what's the 'right' thing to do in several scenarios, using many different philosophical points of view. I must say that I'm a person who's had to read a lot of theory devoid of examples in uni and although I found this difficult and sometimes craved a concrete example just to be able to understand certain theorists, I think this book could do with a few less examples. Sandel wants to reach a large audience, and this style of explaining does contribute to that: There's only few large pieces of text you'll have to get through, and every single idea is shown in examples. I started to find this tedious and consequently I haven't read in it for a good week. I'll start again, because I do find it interesting, and Sandel surely is a smart man I want to learn more from.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Scarlet is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles: a science fiction young adult series of fairy tale retellings. The first one, Cinder follows a girl who's a cyborg, and the story resembles that of Cinderella. This one, you may have guessed, follows Scarlet and her adventures with her grandmother and a wolf (yes, it's Little Red Riding Hood). That is not to say these are standalones, it does continue the story of the previous book, but it's now taken a different perspective.  
I don't read much YA anymore, but as I got this one and the third book in the series for my birthday, I decided to give this a go. I enjoyed the first one far more than I probably should have, and I was interested to see how the series continued. This is my 'bedside read', and to be honest, I don't read that much before going to sleep, so this is taking me a while. It's not my top priority even though I'm actually loving the story and thrilled to know what will happen next.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Review: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Title: Great Expectations
Author: Charles Dickens
Year: 1861
Publisher: Wordsworth Classics
Pages: 412

Great Expectations follows the orphan Pip, who lives with his sister, known as Mrs Joe, and her husband Joe. The novel is a classic example of the Bildungsroman, as it really describes Pip's development as a character. Still a kid, he is sent to London to be educated and turned into a true gentleman. We get to know him before, at the time of, and after the education. A lot happens in this novel, and one of the most influential events is at the very beginning: As a young boy he helps a convict escape by providing him with food and a file. It haunts him throughout his life, continuously thinking about the consequences of this act. But many more things happen: he meets interesting characters such as Miss Haversham, Pumblechoock, Herbert Pocket, and the enchanting Estella. He also redefines his relationship with people he already knew, and above all, he learns to know himself.

This was my first full length novel by Dickens. I picked this one as my first for two reasons: it's one of the most famous ones, as well as one of his shorter novels. Perhaps the latter shouldn't be a reason, and perhaps I should feel ashamed for admitting it, but come on, Dickens is intimidating as it is. So I started Great Expectations at the very beginning of the year, my first read of 2016.

To a certain extent, I regret reading this to set off my new year. I feel like a short but amazing read would have probably prevented the reading slump I was in for the month of January. For the past few years, there have been few months in which I only read one novel, but January 2016 was one of them. This was partly due to the fact that Great Expectations took me a long time to get through, just because I wasn't fully invested in the story, The beginning really did draw me in, and I loved it, but it gradually started to bore me. I didn't find the main character the most interesting one, and I was constantly longing to know more about side characters, while really only getting to know Pip. While Pip still is interesting, and a well-rounded character for sure, I wish more characters were described in great depth. For example, Miss Haversham, about whom, admittedly, we learn a lot, deserved a whole novel for her own story.

There's no doubt this novel is a classic. It's written beautifully and themes such as self-improvement and social class truly describe the troubles of nineteenth century England, But as a novel about ambition, about self-improvement, I was disappointed by how little the novel inspired me. It barred me as a reader, a writer and a critic. While reading it, I was constantly thinking about what to write in my review, and I just didn't know - what would I read afterwards, I didn't know - what did I think about this novel, I didn't know.

A couple of weeks after having finished the novel, letting it sink in, I know I enjoyed it. The story was good and solid, and I really enjoyed the reading. But I surely was disappointed by it. Nonetheless, I'm excited to read more Dickens, although I'm definitely going to wait a few months before I do.

As I said, I didn't read another novel after having read this. I started a few, but with each one, I was afraid it would disappoint me like Great Expectations did. After a while, I decided that perhaps, I just wasn't in the mood for reading, and I should let it go. So I did. I read a bit of nonfiction, a bit of philosophy, which did inspire me to write again, to follow my own ambitions. So I decided to start off February a little bit better: I read a few pages in a new book, I wrote this review, and I tidied the house. Sounds like the start of a good month. We'll see.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Review: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Title: Gilead
Author: Marilynne Robinson
Year: 2004
Publisher: Virago 
Pages: 282

In this epistolary novel, we learn about the life of Reverend John Ames who lives in a town called Gilead. At the age of 77 he figures he should write a long letter to his only seven year old son for him to read when the child is older, and the Reverend dead. In this letter, he reflects on his life, and the story becomes one of generations. He talks about his relationship with his own father and grandfather, who also led a vocational lifestyle. Family and friendship are main themes in this novel, but the most prominent one is that of Christianity.

As I heard about the premise of the novel, I became quite excited. It was supposed to be another great American novel, and with the knowledge of the aforementioned themes, it inevitably reminded me of The Grapes of Wrath, a novel I greatly enjoyed. Moreover, the author had already written a novel that was deemed an instant classic, and Gilead won the Pulitzer Prize. Needless to say, this all left me with great expectations, and when I finally received the novel in the mail, I started reading immediately.

Unfortunately, the novel let me down greatly. First of all, I found the story boring and uncompelling. I honestly don't mind plotless novels, as I enjoy thinking and pondering while reading, but this novel did not invoke any thoughts. I also couldn't empathise with the main character. One of the main reasons for this, was that he starts to complain about the fact that he spent too little time with his son so far, and rather than actually spending time with him, he just spends days and days writing the stupid letter.

The aspect that bothered me most, though, was the religious overtone. I had expected it to be religious, don't get me wrong, but there is not a page you can read without being impressed with Christian beliefs. I've read a few reviews which all claim that you don't have to be religious to love this book, but I beg to differ. The main issue with this aspect I had, was the fact that the religion is never challenged, never questioned, never even considered - it's just thought of as truth.

I did appreciate some parts of this novel. Sometimes, the writing was beautiful, and also the premise is still interesting, I just don't agree with the execution.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

The Classics Club

Somewhere in December, as I was trying to find interesting reading goals for 2016, I stumbled upon this blog called The Classics Club. After some exploring, I found out that this website encourages people to read more classics, by allowing them to set a personal goal. The idea is that you select 50+ classics you want to read. You can pick your own end-date, but the maximum duration of the challenge is five years. You are also supposed to review every single book you read on your blog.

I've decided to join. Between January 1st 2016 and December 30th 2020, I'll be reading 150 classics, of which I already own 134. The remaining ones, I will fill in by books I will buy in those years, as I'm sure I will. Every novel I've read will be reviewed and discussed on here. 

Want to see the full list of books? On this page I'll update which ones I've read and reviewed so far!