Okay, I did make a promise to buy read more books instead of buying more; it is actually part of my 2018 and 2019 Reading Goals and Resolutions. I swear, I tried my best to keep that promise. But how can I resist buying more when they’re practically begging me to buy them *innocent sobs*? Haha. I just can’t resist the temptation of buying more.
Whenever I pass by the mall, I can’t keep myself from buying. Whenever I say my social media friends posting books for sale, I can’t avoid peeking into their galleries (which inevitably ends up in a purchase). In January, I bought about 10 books (actually fourteen but the four books are still in transit). By the way, here is the list of books I have bought in January. All are physical books because I don’t read ebooks.
Title: The Swan Thieves
Author: Elizabeth Kostova
Publishing Date: 2010
No. of Pages: 607
Synopsis: “Dr. Andrew Marlow has a perfectly ordered life, full of devotion to his work and the painting hobby he loves. This order is destroyed when renowned artist Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery and becomes his patient.
As Oliver refuses to speak, Marlow’s only clue is the beautiful haunted woman Oliver paints obsessively day after day. Who is she, and what strange hold does she have over this tormented genius? Desperate to help, Marlow embarks on a journey that leads him into the lives of the women closest to Oliver, and to a dark story at the heart of French Impressionism – a tragedy that ripples out to touch present-day lives.”
Title: 99 Nights in Logar
Author: Jamil Jan Kochai
Publishing Date: January 2019
No. of Pages: 275
Synopsis: “Twelve-year-old Marwand’s memories from his previous visit to Afghanistan six years ago center on his contentious relationship with Budabash, the terrifying but beloved dog who guards his extended family’s compound in the rural village of Logar. But eager for an ally in this place that is meant to be “home,” Marwand misreads his reunion with the dog and approaches Budabash the way he would any pet on his American suburban block – and the results are disastrous: Marwand loses a finger, and Budabash escapes into the night.
Marwand is not chastened and doubles down on his desire to fit in here. He must get the dog back, and the resulting search is a gripping and vivid adventure story, a lyrical, funny, and surprisingly tender coming-of-age journey across contemporary Afghanistan that blends the bravado and vulnerability of a boy’s teenage years with an homage to familial oral tradition and calls to mind One Thousand and One Nights yet speaks with a voice all its own.”
Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Translator: Henning Koch
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publishing Date: 2012
No. of Pages: 337
Synopsis: “At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet, a curmudgeon with staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People think him bitter, and he thinks himself surrounded by idiots.
Ove’s well-ordered, solitary world gets a shake-up one November morning with the appearance of new neighbors – a chatty young couple and their two boisterous daughters – who announce their arrival by accidentally flattening Ove’s mailbox with their U-Haul. What follows is a heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unlikely friendships, and community’s unexpected reassessment of the one person they thought they had all figured out.”
Title: Bea Season
Author: Myla Goldberg
Publisher: Anchor Books
Publishing Date: May 2001
No. of Pages: 274
Synopsis: “Eliza Naumann has no reason to believe she is anything but ordinary, especially after her teachers place her in the class for slow learners. Her father, Saul dotes on her older brother Aaron’s rabbinical ambitions. Her mother, Miriam, seems fully absorbed by her law career. When a spelling bee threatens to reaffirm her mediocrity, Eliza amazes everyone: she wins. Her newfound gift garners an invitation not only to the national competition, but to her father’s sacred study where a new dictionary beckons, Jewish mysticism lurks in leather tomes, and language offers a spiritual awakening.
Eliza’s unexpected success sends her off-kilter family into a tailspin, and Eliza comes to depend upon her own divination to hold the family together.”
Author: Marilynne Robinson
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publishing Date: 2001
No. of Pages: 219
Synopsis: “’A modern classic that “brilliantly portrays the impermanence of all things, especially beauty and happiness” (Paul Gray, Time), Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, the eccentric and remote sister of their dead mother. The family house is in the small town of Fingerbone on a glacial lake in the Far West, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town “chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere.” Ruth and Lucille’s struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience.”
Title: The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea
Author: Yukio Mishima
Translator: John Nathan
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 1985
No. of Pages: 143
Synopsis: “After five years of celibate widowhood, Fusako consummates her two-day relationship with Ryuji, a naval officer self-convinced of his glorious destiny… and they are spied on by Fusako’s son, Noboru, a self-possessed thirteen-year-old, ‘No. 3’ in a sinister elite of precocious schoolboys.
Noboru hides his contempt for Ryuji until Ryuji and Fusako get engaged. Then ‘No. 3’ presents a long charge sheet to ‘No. 1’. And, cool and detached, they make plans for Ryuji…”
Author: Art Spiegelman
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Publishing Date: 1991
No. of Pages: 296
Synopsis: “At last! Here is the definitive edition of the book acclaimed as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal) and “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker). It now appears as it was originally envisioned by the author: The Complete Maus.
It is the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonisht coming to terms with his father’s story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in “drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust” (The New York Times).
Maus is a haunting tale within a tale Vladek’s harrowing story of survival is woven into the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century’s grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors. Maus studies the bloody pawprints of history and tracks its meaning for all of us.”
Title: Circling the Sun
Author: Paula McClain
Publisher: Virago Press
Publishing Date: 2015
No. of Pages: 369
Synopsis: “As a child, Beryl Markham is brought to Kenya from Edwardian England by parents dreaming of a new life on an African farm; only two years later, her mother has abandoned the family and returned home. Neglected daughter, scourge of governesses, serial absconder from boarding school, by the age sixteen Beryl has been catapulted into a disastrous marriage, emerging from the wreckage vowing to take charge of her own history.
Circling the Sun takes the reader from the spectacular beauty of the Rift Valley to the immaculate lawns of Nairobi’s Muthaiga Club, from the brittle glamour of the gin-fuelled Happy Valley set to the loneliness of life as a scandalous divorcee. We encounter unforgettable characters: Karen Blixen , the writer-farmer-baroness; Denys Finch Hatton, irresistible big-game hunter; Kibii, the friend of her girlhood; and Lord Delamere, the man who gives her a chance to prove herself. And at the heart of the novel is Neryl: dazzling, contradictory, brave, passionate and reckless, whose great loss in love finally frees her to pursue her dreams of flight – and freedom.”
Title: The Mayor of Casterbridge
Author: Thomas Hardy
Publisher: Transaction Publishers
Publishing Date: 1999
No. of Pages: 417
Synopsis: “Life most of Hardy’s novels, The Mayor of Casterbridge is a powerful and harsh study of characters defeated in their struggle with the physical and social environment, victims of their own impulses as well as capricious chance. While drunk, unemployed Michael Henchard sells his wife and daughter at a country fair to a sailor. His remorse leads him to forsake drinking and embark on a fruitless 18-year search for family. When a reunion at last occurs, it is marked by deception and tragedy.”
Title: The History of Love
Author: Nicole Krauss
Publishing Date: 2005
No. of Pages: 252
Synopsis: “Leo Gursky is trying to survive a little bit longer; tapping his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor n=know he’s still alive, drawing attention to himself at the milk counter of Starbucks. But life wasn’t always like this: sixty years ago, in the Polish village where he was born, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. And although he doesn’t know it, that book also survived: it crossed oceans and generations, and changed lives.
Fourteen-year-old Alma was named after a character in that book. These days she has her hands full keeping track of her little brother Bird (who thinks he might be the Messiah) and taking copious notes in her book, How to Survive in the Wild, Volume Three. But when a mysterious letter arrives in the post she undertakes an adventure to find her namesake, and save her family.”
But for 99 Nights in Logar I haven’t read any of the books I bought in January yet. If I were to be honest, it would take months before I get to read any of them. They’ll be in the dungeon for a while. Well, hopefully not because I look forward to reading all of them. However, reading takes time and patience. In their due time, I will read them and I will generously share to you, my readers, my thoughts on these books.
“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” ~ Mortimer J. Adler