In February, I started picking up my reading momentum, finishing 7 books in all. It was a time I caught up with my reading. However, in March, everything started slowing down again. I guess this is kind of normal since there are times when I am motivated to read and in February, I was just really feeling it. Albeit a slower month, March wasn’t bereft of good and wonderful reads. The gods of literature may ever be in my favor.
What defined my March reading journey is how the books I’ve read broadened my horizon. Without my initial intention of it being so, March has become some sort of an international literary journey as I devoured works from authors of different nationalities. It was also an enlightening experience; I enjoyed the journey all through out because it has always been my resolve to read more global works.
In total, I have completed reading four books (and started reading a new one before the month ended). I know, it is a measly total compared to my February output and is a far cry from my usual numbers. But then again, it is never about the quantity but about the quality. Quality-wise, it was a great reading month.
Here is the order of books I read in March and a simple insight on these books.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The journey started in Nigeria.
Ah. Chimamanda Adichie Ngozie, a name that I keep twisting my tongue whenever I try to mention it but still one that piqued my attention because of the number of times I encountered her name and her works in must-read lists. Because of this burgeoning curiosity, I bought a copy of her book, Half of a Yellow Sun. for the book to get priority, I included it in my 2019 Top 20 Reading List. Gladly, I was able to prioritize it in March.
What do I think of the book? It is ultra-dense as it deals with evils of warfare and the fight for independence. More than that, it is the portrayal of a pivotal part of the history of Nigeria and the short-lived Republic of Biafra. Due to the subject, it was a difficult read and I took my time with it. Albeit this heavy pall that hovered above the narrative, I still appreciated its significance and its subtle beauty.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Time to check out the jetsetting rich kids of Singapore.
Half of a Yellow Sun literally drained me with its dark subject and theme. To offset the heaviness and recover from the intense literary journey, I opted to go for a lighter and more entertaining read. Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians was obviously screaming at me from my bookshelves. I tried to ignore it at first but since it is also part of my 2019 Top 20 Reading List, I gave in to its seduction.
Of course, I knew of Crazy Rich Asians’ entertainment value, not oblivious to the events that are happening around me. It didn’t fail to make me laugh in spite of its dry wit and bland humor. During a job interview, my interviewer asked me what book I was reading. They were shocked when I said it was this book. I kind of expected the reaction because I had the same perception. Nevertheless, it is always a great idea to indulge in mindless, light and pleasurable reading every now and then. Especially if it is to take a break from works like the aforementioned Half of a Yellow Sun.
To read my complete review of Crazy Rich Asians, click here.
The Door by Magda Szabo
From Nigeria to Singapore, my international journey let me to to post-World War II Hungary.
I have neither heard nor read of Magda Szabo until this year, when I encountered one of her works through an online book reseller. Even though I barely had an inkling on who she was, I nevertheless bought her book. Out of curiosity. After all, the English translation was published by New York Review of Books, something that, I surmised, in the literary world means a whole world of prestige.
Without any expectations (but a whole world of curiosity), I dug deep into Szabo’s world. Her nostalgic writing transported me into a different epoch. She made me walk her street, she made my olfactory sense work with her descriptive writing. Yes, her writing is a little bleak but this figurative work and its numerous allusions made me see how wide and varied the world of literature is. It reminded me again of the power of books to transport one to a different place, to a different time.
The Seville Communion by Arturo Perez-Reverte
My fourth book for the month made me travel to Italy and to Spain. Oh yes, I have travelled to different places last month.
Like Adichie, Perez-Reverte is an author whose works I have encountered only by going through must-read lists. His Club Dumas keeps appearing repeatedly so I took the plunge and take at least in one of his works. I just bought The Seville Communion (too bad I missed out on Club Dumas) when I completed reading The Door. It was a perfect opportunity to read the work of an author I am curious of!
The Seville Communion, unlike the three other books I have read during the month, is a mystery novel. Ironically, I found similar attributes with Dan Brown’s books although it is bereft of symbolisms that Dan Brown books are doused with. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the novel involves a hacker and the church. I wasn’t totally impressed with the book but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to read Perez-Reverte’s other works.
I made a last stop for my March reading journey: Russia.
I closed the month by starting to read Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons. It is a book that I have previously started but unfortunately forgot about. It is but a shorter book than usual but due to my starting my new job during the month, I never had a sufficient time to complete reading it (I am still reading it as of writing. At this rate, this is the first less-than-200-page novel that I read for nearly two weeks! Haha).
To close it out, I plan to continue reading more international pieces in April as I have already started with Junichiro Tanizaki’s Some Prefer Nettles in late February. I hope I get to read more great books that transport me to different times and places. Lastly, I hope everyone is enjoying the books they are reading and that they are having a great time!
Happy reading everyone!