Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope that your week is going well and that you are also doing well. I know, most of us are still shrugging off some of that holiday hangover. But with the new year also comes new opportunities for us to be better, opportunities for us to turn on a new leaf. The new year also means new opportunities for reading new books and for new reading adventures. It is also a fresh canvas of book blogging year wanting to be painted with new memories.
This week’s topic: Top 5 books I will definitely* read in 2023
Whew. Another reading list. HAHA. I have made a couple already, including my 2023 Top 23 Reading List. This is a list of 23 books I will DEFINITELY read this year, come hell or high water. So for this Top 5 Tuesday, I am listing other books I am looking forward to reading this year. Happy reading!
Title: Raised from the Ground
Author: Jose Saramago
Translator: Margaret Jull Costa
Publishing Date: 2013
No. of Pages: 387
This early work is deeply personal and Jose Saramago’s most autobiographical, following the changing fortunes of the Mau-Tempo family – poor, landless peasants not unlike the author’s own grandparents. Saramago charts the family’s lives in Alentejo, southern Portugal, as national and international events rumble on in the background – the coming of the republic in Portugal, the First and Second World Wars and an attempt on the dictator Salazar’s life. Yet nothing really impinges on the farm labourer’s lives until the first strings of communism.
Title: Jonah’s Gourd Vine
Author: Zora Neale Hurston
Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Publishing Date: 2008
No. of Pages: 202
Jonah’s Gourd Vine, Zora Neale Hurston’s first novel, originally published in 1934, tells the story of John Buddy Pearson, “a living exultation” of a young man who loves too many women for his own good. Lucy, his long-suffering wife, is his true love, but there’s also Mehaley and Big’Oman, as well as the scheming Hattie, who conjures hoodoo spells to ensure his attentions. Even after becoming the popular pastor of Zion Hope, where his sermons and prayers for cleansing rouse the congregation’s fervor, John has to confess that though he is a preacher on Sundays, he is a “natchel man” the rest of the week. And on in this sympathetic portrait of a man and his community, Zora Neale Hurston shows that faith, tolerance, and good intentions cannot resolve the tension between the spiritual and the physical. That she makes this age-old dilemma come so alive is a tribute to her understanding of the vagaries of human nature.
Title: Portnoy’s Complaint
Author: Philip Roth
Publisher: Random House
Publishing Date: 1969
No. of Pages: 274
Portnoy’s Complaint n. [after Alexander Portnoy (1933-)] A disorder in which strongly-felt ethical and altruistic impulses are perpetually warring with extreme sexual longings, often of a perverse nature. Spielvogel says: ‘Acts of exhibitionism, voyeurism, fetishism, auto-eroticism and oral coitus are plentiful; as a consequence of the patient’s “morality,” however, neither fantasy nor act issues in genuine sexual gratification, but rather in overriding feelings of shame and the dread of retribution, particularly in the form of castration.’ (Spielvogel, O. ‘The Puzzled Penis’, Internationale Zeitschrift fur Psychoanalyse, Vol. XXIV, p. 909.) it is believed by Spielvogel that many of the symptoms can be traced to the bonds obtaining in the mother-child relationship.
Title: I’ll Be Right There
Author: Kyung Sook Shin
Translator: Sora Kim-Russell
Publisher: Other Press
Publishing Date: 2013
No. of Pages: 321
Set in 1980s South Korea amid the tremors of political revolution, I’ll Be Right There follows Jung Yoon, a highly literate, twenty-something woman, as she recounts her tragic personal history as well as those of her three intimate college friends. When after eight years of separation Yoon receives a distressing phone call from her ex-boyfriend, memories of a tumultuous youth begin to resurface, forcing her to relive the most intense period of her life. With profound intellectual and emotional insight, she revisits the death of her beloved mother, the strong bond with her now-dying former college professor, the excitement of her first love, and the friendships forged out of a shared sense of isolation and grief.
Yoon’s formative experiences, which highlight both the fragility and force of personal connection in an era of absolute uncertainty, become immediately palpable. Shin makes the foreign and esoteric utterly familiar: her use of European literature as an interpreter of emotion and experience bridges any gaps between East and West. Love, friendship, and solitude are the same everywhere, as this book makes poignantly clear.
Title: Poor People
Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Translator: Hugh Aplin
Publisher: Hesperus Press Limited
Publishing Date: 2002
No. of Pages: 130
Written as a series of letters, Poor People tells the tragic tale of a petty clerk and his impossible love for a young girl. Longing to help her and change her plight, he sells everything he can, but his kindness leads him only into more desperate poverty, and ultimately into debauchery. As the object of his desire looks sadly and helplessly on, he – the typical ‘man of the underground’ – becomes more and more convinced of the belief that happiness can only be achieved with riches. Theirs is a troubled, frustrated love that can only lead to sorrow.
Poor People is Dostoevsky’s first original work. As both a masterpiece of Russian populist writing, and a parody of the entire genre, it is a profound and uneasy piece, with many glimpses of future genius.