Swing Time – Zadie Smith

So, what I’ve seen so far Swing Time is a bit controversial, which yes, I do understand. I’ve been doing some research on this book and one sentence really stuck with me; someone said Smith should rather write less and say more. That statement pretty much sums up what I’ve been thinking whilst reading this book.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an interesting read with a relatable protagonist and Zadie Smith’ style of writing is quite fluent, but as much as I try to comprehend what it is exactly she wants to tell the reader, I simply have no clue whatsoever.

In short Zadie Smiths book tells the story of a girl who struggles with her academic and ambitious mother, her talented yet self-absorbed best friend and her famous employer whom she dedicates her life to, as well as the difficulties of trying to “enhance” a village in Gambia. And whilst the childhood of the protagonist is very specifically written, the grown-up nameless protagonist is a bit hard to grasp, which results in quite long-winded passages.

Therefore, I’ve come to the conclusion that Swing Time is a very good example of how the journey can be the goal and as soon as I started seeing the book from that point of view I just went with the flow and did enjoy it, although I probably won’t read it again.

The Harry-Potter-Series – J.K. Rowling

I entered the world of magic when I was eleven years old, and although that was almost exactly 10 years ago, my love for the Harry-Potter-Series is still going strong. Truth to be told, I’ve read all seven books 30 times in those past ten years, which might seem a tiny bit insane, but it’s Harry Potter, after all, so I think it may be allowed.

Anyway, Harry, Ron and Hermione accompanied me throughout my adolescence and Hogwarts became kind of a second home to me. In fact, the world J.K. Rowling created was my safe shelter, whenever life became too hard for me to bear. Looking back at those rather difficult years now, I’m very grateful to have had those books to have just a little break from reality.

So, now that you know that I am quite the Potter-Head, it’s about time to figure out why people of all ages and cultures fall in love with Rowlings masterpiece. Hence, I’ve put together a short list of reasons I like the series and in case you have any more to add, just leave a comment down below 🙂

  1. The story is gripping and very well written
  2. The characters are relatable and so vivid the reader starts to believe to know them in real life
  3. The great display of the different shapes of love
    • Ron & Hermione are the best example of how friendship can turn into love
    • Lilys love for Harry shows that a mothers love never really ceases to exist
    • Snapes obsessive love for Lily makes it clear that when it comes to love, there’s hardly anything one wouldn’t do for the other
    • Dumbledores short, yet intensive relationship with Grindwald displays the powerful, fierce and somehow all-consuming feeling of first love and that sometimes falling head over toe for something can turn out to be quite destructive
    • And of course, the relationship between Harry, Ron and Hermione simply is the epidome of friendship
  4. With the Dementors Rowling managed to give one of the best literal descriptions of depression ever
  5. Harrys acceptance of his fate, that showed the reader, that sometimes it’s best to just stick things out and never ever despair whenever it gets to hard
  6. The way the characters grow from being children to adults
  7. Dumbledores firm believe that love will always win in the end, and of course every other wisdom he shares with the world
  8. Showing that it doesn’t matter what other people think about you
  9. Getting back up, whenever life knocks you down
  10. The amount of loyalty, friendship, bravery and wisdom

Obviously, there’d be a lot more to say about the greatness of Harry Potter, but I don’t want to let this get too long, so I’m gonna wrap it up.

From my point of view, Harry Potter is one of the most amazing literal accomplishment of our time and I’m sure the reasonable hype around it will be passed on to the next generation. And in case you haven’t read the series as of yet, I’d highly advise you to do so, but be warned, once you’re a Potter-Head there’s no way back.

Always

LivingInsideABook

 

The Lord Of The Flies – William Golding

Honestly, The Lord Of The Flies left me utterly speechless and shattered. I have not the slightest bit of idea on how I went so long without having ever read it. And even though Golding’s masterpiece is labelled as a book for children, I still was frightened to a point where I could not read the book at night but had to read it during daytime.

With The Lord Of The Flies, William Golding created a, for lack of a better word, deeply unsettling psycho-thriller that fucked up my mind, and left me constantly muttering to myself “I wouldn’t do that, or would I?”. The honest brutality that develops in the boys’ minds kind of fascinated me. It’s no secret that kids do have the ability to be immensely cruel to each other and to adults, but it still took me a few chapters from having solely a vague feeling that some of the boys might not make it off the island alive to realize that that, in fact, was going to happen.

I think I might let some time pass before reading this great book again and then I’ll update this review since I firmly believe there’s a lot more to say about this book, but I might just need another read to fully discover what else it has in stock.

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

Seriously, I’m so amazed at how this book has stunned me every single time I read it.

I love Wild and would highly recommend reading it to everyone, but especially to those who struggle to push through with something (especially mental health-related) or who struggle to find their inner self.

Now, I don’t think you necessarily have to go backpacking for three months to achieve what Cheryl Strayed did, but her way of getting back on track and her telling her story with such a truthful attitude, without sugar-coating the tiniest thing is just so inspiring. That woman managed to show the bumpy journey that comes with finding yourself and coming at ease with who you are and who you were.

Forgiveness is a hard thing to reach and I personally found it even harder to forgive myself than forgiving other people. That’s why the paragraph in which Strayed realizes that all the actions she’s done and that put her in so much pain ever since are okay to have happened, which marks the exact moment her mind is finally free. Those are one of the most life-changing sentences I’ve ever read, simply because it showed me that with accepting your past (which you cannot make undone anyway) is totally fine since everything that happened led you to where you are now and now is the exact place you have to be. Therefore everything is alright and there’s no use of dwelling in the past and regretting this and that because it cannot be changed and it was ok to happen.

Wild is astonishing to read and again I would recommend it to anyone and for those who cannot be bothered to read it, at least go and watch the movie. It’s so worth your time, you will be doing something good for yourself.

I’ll Give You The Sun – Jandy Nelson

Jandy Nelson’s “I’ll Give You The Sun” may well be my favourite Y/A-novel so far. I first discovered it when my High-school English-teacher lent it to me when I was around 17. She thought I might like it, so there I was, reading this book for the very first time. Of course, my teacher was right about me enjoying it, though at that time I couldn’t exactly pin down why it got to me the way it did.

Now, that some time has passed and I’ve reread I’ll Give You The Sun multiple times I feel more confident in explaining why I love this novel.

First of all, Jandy Nelson did a great job in displaying how it feels to be an outcast in Highschool, who is more interested in art (whatever form it may be) than in playing sports or generally participating in things the popular kids like to do.

Also, the general structure of the book was a huge plus-point for me, since having both, Judes and Noahs points of view makes the story a lot easier to understand and in addition to that, points out the misunderstandings, which have huge impacts on each life of the twins, greatly. With that I’ll Give You The Sun is to me the proof that talking to one another, being empathic and trying to see the world from the others point of view is so, so important since it makes life a lot more bearable for all of us.

That’s the main message I’m taking from the novel, but there’s also the moral to be taken, that no matter what others say, stay true to yourself and be who you are, because trying to be someone who you definitely not are on the inside will never get you to where you actually want to be.

Other than that, I’ll Give You The Sun also manages to cover quite a few issues the teenager of the 21st century is concerned with, such as being gay and coming out to oneself and the loved ones, losing one’s virginity and regretting it afterwards, falling in love so deeply it seems like the world would fall apart, the difficulties figuring out what you want to achieve in your life comes with, the list goes on and on. Plus, the topic of losing a parent at a very young age and the effects it has on the remaining family is very well put. Furthermore, the difficult situation of divorce and the sheer endless emotions that go hand in hand with it, are written about in a relatable way.

All in all, I’ll Give You The Sun is a great read for teenagers as well as adults, who long to get lost in a fictional world and who want to have the feeling that everything will be alright in the end.

Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo

Shortly after I’ve finished Six Of Crows I had to read the sequel, because I simply couldn’t stand not knowing what would happen next. Due to the very well written first part of this two-piece, my expectations for Crooked Kingdom were pretty high. And I was so not disappointed.

There’s even more action going on than in Six Of Crows, you get more insights in the history of each member of the crew (which only makes you love them more) and the strategies being planned throughout the book leave you stunned. The world Bardugo created is so unique and wholesome it swallows you up and spits out a highly confused version of you, that keeps wondering what just happened. I love a good fast-paced book, with a plot so thought-trough you forget the “real” world still exists.

So, to wrap this up: huge thumbs up to Leigh Bardugo and a massive thank-you for providing her readership with another story of Jespers love for shooting, Ninas intelligence, Matthias heroism, Wylans geekiness, Inejs bravery and of course Kaz’ scheming face.

The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater

Ever since I read “The Black Stallion” by Walter Farley as a child, I’ve been looking for a book that captures the emotional relationship between a horse and a human being, like the one Alec and The Black had. With Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races I’ve finally stumbled across a novel that brings me straight back on the back of a horse, feeling the wind rustle through my hair and having a sense of freedom that literally nothing else could give you.

The Scorpio Races is an amazing read and the only reason for not getting five stars from me is the incredible slow beginning. I’m sorry to say, that the first 120 pages were exhausting to get through, but once you’ve made it past those it will have you in its grip and won’t let you go even after you’ve finished it.

Everyone who has read Stiefvater before will know how her language is out of this world, and it just goes so hand in hand with the plot and the legend of the waterhorses. Also, the display of the cruelty and beauty of nature and the fact that it can never really be controlled by human beings left me more often than not speechless.

And just don’t let me get started on Pucks and Seans relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I like some cheesy, romantic love-story every now and then, but it was just such a bliss to read a book which is actually labelled as Y/A and to not have that whole star-crossed lovers, very emotional questioning of whether they’ll end up together or not.

I’d highly recommend this book to everyone who likes a bit of action, some beautiful language (the number of beautifuls I’ve used in this review is almost embarrassing) with just a tiny bit of romance as the cherry on top. And also, of course to anyone who loves horses and may know the deep bond that can establish between horse and rider.

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland – Lewis Carrol

Being a classic tale, written for children, Alice is a nice read that kind of broadens one horizon in its own way. The beautiful language of the 19th century makes the book to an adventure where the lines between possible and impossible slowly disappear.

With Alice, Carrol created a world that evokes the childish innocence in every adult once again and lets us see the world from the angle of our childhood, where things were being taken for what they simply were without questioning their possibility or searching a deeper meaning behind every action.

The author himself said, there would be no moral to be taken from this tale, it would just be a collection of nonsense wrapped up in a dream of an innocent child, where worries about the future and dwelling in the past have no room for existing, hence the reader is almost forced to live in the moment alongside a weird collection of characters, none of which are to be taken too seriously, yet our generation may take the living in the moment-part as a little hint to practice that habit in their everyday-lives.

I quite enjoyed reading this book as a child and found it very refreshing when reading it as an adult and cannot wait to read it to eventual future children.

Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon

Well, here we go with yet another typical YA-book. There’s first, sort of star-crossed, love, dramatic meetings between the lovers and an overprotective parent. Everything, everything is an easy and quick read with easy-to-like characters, yet it is somehow a bit hollow and quite predictable. I’m sure teenagers aged between 13 and 16 would enjoy this read a bit more since there certainly is some depth missing and the Maddy’s and Olly’s love-story is, as so often, only displayed to the point where they eventually are able to spend their lives together. Yet, their entire relationship had been planted on her “sickness” and both try to free her for most parts of the story. But I just don’t really think this is how a relationship works. I mean they had this goal in their minds, I wonder what’s left of a relationship as soon as said goal is accomplished?

Anyway, there’s one thing I really liked about Everything, Everything and that’s how Maddy discovers the difference between existing and actual living. I believe nowadays lots of people are so stuck in their everyday-routines, where each day is so similar to the next, weeks, months, years even start to blur together and when at some point they look back at their lives and wonder where all the time has gone and why they hadn’t achieved, experience more, that’s when regret starts to kick in. For all the journeys not made, books not read, places not visited, coffee-talks not had; it’s an endless list.

In order to prevent that feeling of having wasted the time that’s been given to you it’s crucial to follow Maddy’s example: find out what’s missing in your life, take a deep breath, step out of your cosy comfort zone and live solely in the moment without fear for the future or regret for the past.

Six Of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Absolutely loved this one. I immediately fell in love with all six main characters and I adored the way each background-story unfolds itself throughout the book. Also, the way that none of the characters is just good or just bad really made me love this book even more. Six Of Crows features a complex plot which doesn’t allow the reader to picture the actual ending, although there aren’t that much major plot-twists.

The only reason I cannot rate this book with five stars is the rather slow beginning. I needed three attempts until I could finish the whole book. It’s only been the first few chapters though, that wouldn’t draw me in; after I got through those the story had me in its grip and I spent an entire day on reading because there was no way of putting Six Of Crows aside.

So, to all of you who’ve been longing to read an utterly extraordinary fantasy-story, that lets you forget you’re not actually living in the same world as the characters, get hold of a copy and prepare for a long night, since once this book got you, it doesn’t let you go 🙂